Pupils 'banned from watching solar eclipse' for cultural and religious reasons

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A headmaster has admitted primary school children were banned from watching the eclipse for 'cultural and religious' reasons.

Council officials demanded an explanation from the head of the school in a multi-cultural suburb of west London.

North Primary School, Southall Credit: ITV News

Phil Belman, the father of a seven-year-old girl at North Primary School in Southall, rang the headteacher to express his anger.

Phil Belman Credit: ITV News

My daughter was sent home yesterday to make a pinhole camera for the eclipse. This morning I heard for religious and cultural reasons the kids were going to be banned from any part in the eclipse. I was put through to him straight away and he confirmed it, religious and cultural reasons. I said that was totally outrageous. I asked him to elaborate and he refused. It's just going back to the dark ages really.

Phil Belman, Parent
Credit: Reuters

Ealing Council confirmed the pupils were not allowed out of their classrooms but said they were able to see the eclipse on TV screens.

The headmaster, Ivor Johnstone, issued a statement saying he was sorry for any disappointment.

The school made this decision when we became aware of religious and cultural concerns associated with observing an eclipse directly. Although we are sorry for any disappointment, pupils were still able to watch the eclipse on screens in classrooms. However, the overcast conditions in West London today meant they would not have been able to see it live in any case.

Ivor Johnstone, Headteacher North Primary School