A Muslim student who was excluded from school because he refused to shave off his beard has been allowed back to class, it has emerged.
The pupil, who was one of two 14-year-old schoolboys to be sent home over their facial hair, returned to Mount Carmel Roman Catholic High School in Accrington, Lancashire, on Monday. His classmate is still barred from class. Governors said the boy could return to school after talks with Muslim leaders, but the school's policy remains unchanged, the BBC reported.
Mount Carmel head teacher Xavier Bowers said the school would comply with the European Convention of Human Rights, which insists schools must make "reasonable" adjustments to uniform policy if students object on religious grounds.
In a statement, Bowers said: "[There] will be no change to the school rule which requires boys to be clean shaven.
"However, following discussions with leaders of the local community, exemptions will be made in certain clearly-defined circumstances.
"Governors have taken the decision to only allow Muslim boys permission to grow a beard as a sign of their faith as long as they have started the Hafiz programme at a mosque."
The programme teaches five to 16-year-olds how to "memorise and review" the Quran.
Bowers added the school's governors would work with the Islamic community to "support boys who are genuinely and fully committed to their faith".
The teenagers had previously spent a month in isolation after refusing to comply with the school's rules about appearance. They were part of a group who were told in June they must shave off their facial hair before returning for the Autumn term.
After it emerged the boys had been banned from class, the National Union of Students' black students’ officer, Aaron Kiely released a statement saying: "It is completely wrong that two 14-year-old Muslim pupils are being punished at all and that they are being held in ‘isolation’ for nearly a month for refusing to shave their beards for religious reasons.
"The NUS Black Students’ Campaign is totally opposed to the victimisation of anyone for pursuing their rights to religious and cultural expression. We call on Mount Carmel Roman Catholic High School to end this draconian practice."
Lancashire county councillor for Accrington West Munsif Dad said: "I'm very glad that we are moving in the right direction and I'd like to thank the head teacher and governors for their understanding and co-operation."
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