Waltham Forest is very proud of its diverse population, and it is in this spirit that this guidance has been produced. It is neither statutory nor a rigid set of prescriptions, and we fully recognise the fact that in almost every instance the final decision remains in the hands of individual headteachers. Rather our aim is to suggest compromise positions and encourage dialogue between schools and their local Muslim community, at the same time as ensuring the best possible education for all of Waltham Forest's pupils. This guidance also takes into account the most recent changes in child protection procedures.
According to the 2011 Census, Muslims form the second largest religious group in the UK. Almost a quarter of Waltham Forest residents (22%) are Muslims, having increased from 15% since 2001.
Obviously in some wards this percentage is higher, in others lower, but issues relating in particular to the month of Ramadan can affect all of Waltham Forest's schools. Finally, it is important to remember that the Muslim community in Waltham Forest itself is diverse. Muslims from Pakistan can be quite different in their observances from Somali Muslims.
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