Telegraph: Two councils have instructed all schools under their control to shut for the annual celebrations of Eid-Ul-Fitr, Diwali and Guru Nanak’s Birthday, in addition to the Christian festivals of Christmas and Easter.
The directive, by Waltham Forest and Newham councils, in east London, even affects schools where very few pupils are Muslim, Hindu or Sikh.
After concerns were raised, a review of the policy has been launched in Waltham Forest, with some criticising the closures as inappropriate, unnecessary and «political».
Headteachers have argued that they should be given discretion in deciding which days to mark, as happens in big multi-ethnic cities including Manchester, Birmingham and Bradford.
Whereas one in six Waltham Forest residents is Muslim, according to the last census, Hindus make up only 1.8 per cent of the borough’s population, and Sikhs only 0.6 per cent. Jews outnumber Sikhs in the borough, according to the census, yet schools have not been told to close for any Jewish holidays.
Lynette Parvez, head of Kelmscott School, in Walthamstow, told officials conducting the review: «For a school such as Kelmscott where the vast majority of pupils are either Christian or Muslim, there is no need to take additional time out for Diwali or Guru Nanak.
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