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Virtual tour to replace school trip to mosque following parental concern

Tue 14 Nov 2017
By Tola Mbakwe

Alternative arrangements have been made for children in Staffordshire who feel uncomfortable on school trips to places of worship.

The County Council said youngsters can opt for a virtual tour instead, using a computer. It's produced the new guidance following concern from parents about visits to buildings like mosques.

Alison Ruoff, a former member of the Church of England's governing body, agrees with the policy. She told Premier's News Hour there's no reason why young children need to see a mosque.

"Small children should be taught about Bible stories and about the Christian faith and not have it muddled up.

"There's plenty of time for children to learn about different faiths, so why try and flood their brains with more and more stuff? It's unnecessary."

However, others disagree and believe the earlier the child learns about other faiths, the better.

A Premier News Hour poll found 67 per cent of listeners would not stop their child from visiting a mosque for a school trip.

Beth Grove is from the Pfander Centre for Apologetics, a Christian group which promotes engagement with Islam.

She told Premier's News Hour visiting a mosque could be beneficial.

She said: "We don't want to take the responsibility from the parents but I think it is important for our children to learn other ideologies and other viewpoints, but given also freedom to explore and challenge those viewpoints if need be."

She added it's important for them to hear what Muslims are saying and that's why she said she isn't sure if a virtual tour is a good compromise.

Grove said: "Do the children and the teacher and the parents actually talk and discuss with a Muslim or someone of an opposite faith? Do they actually engage? Is discussion allowed? I don't know that a virtual tour would allow for that?"

Listen to Beth Grove speaking with Premier's Tola Mbakwe here:

Listen to Alison Ruoff speaking with Premier's Tola Mbakwe here:

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