12th February 2024
New physical activity Ramadan guidance for schools
Ground-breaking Ramadan guidance developed by Dr Irfan Khawaja at Birmingham City University (BCU) will help create a more inclusive school environment for Muslim students and staff engaging in physical education (PE) during Ramadan.
Thought to be the first of its kind in the United Kingdom to support curriculum and extra-curricular PE, the guidance gives schools practical advice for supporting fasting Muslim students and staff during Islam’s Holy Month so they can continue to participate in physical activity.
Dr Khawaja, a Senior Lecturer in Physical Education at BCU, said: “I wish such guidance had been in place when I was a student and subsequently a PE teacher at secondary school.
“In this increasingly interconnected world, it is essential children and young people come to understand and respect diverse cultures and religions, including in the most pragmatic and straightforward of ways.
“It is my wish that this guidance should be a force for good in supporting the existing work that schools and other educational establishments do to create truly inclusive environments.”
Dr Khawaja collaborated with the Association for Physical Education (afPE), the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the Youth Sport Trust (YST), and the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) to produce the paper, which has been published by the afPE and is available to view on our Community of Learning page here.
In it, he advocates for inclusive activities and timetabling that minimise adaptations and avoid drawing attention to Muslim students during Ramadan.
To that end, the guidance includes practical adaptations for a comprehensive list of PE activities, including swimming, trampolining, athletics and gymnastics, so fasting students and staff can take part in the same activities as their non-fasting colleagues.
Vicci Wells, Head of Sport at the Youth Sport Trust, said: “Ensuring regular access to PE, sport and activity is vital for the physical, emotional and social wellbeing of children and young people.
“This valuable guidance empowers teachers and practitioners to collaborate with pupils, creating an environment in which they can safely and happily participate in PE and sport during Ramadan.
“It is a useful resource for schools, wider sport sector providers as well as young people and their families.”
Ramadan – or ‘the hot month’ in Arabic – is an Islamic celebration of fasting and prayer in honour of Allah – the Arabic name for ‘God’. It lasts around 29 to 30 days, during which time Muslims gather with their families and communities, fasting from dawn to sunset and reciting the Quran.
While Ramadan encourages Muslims to engage with daily life as normal, the paper also highlights the need for effective communication between schools and their staff and students.
That way, schools can offer appropriate support during Ramadan so that Muslim staff and students continue to enjoy PE lessons and any extra-curricular physical activity.