HARROW Council has urged all headteachers in the borough to consider a non-Halal meat option in schools.

Angry parents and religious leaders have accused schools of ignoring the rights of non-Muslim parents and their children by making Halal the only meat option in secondary schools.

The council, as the education authority, has soaked up much of the criticism despite saying it has no power over what schools serve at lunch.

Heather Clements, director for schools and children's development, said: “It is clear that the use of Halal meat in schools is concerning a number of our residents and we recently met with Harrow’s Interfaith Council to make sure we fully understood the issues.

“While it is ultimately a decision for schools to choose their catering contractor, Councillor Brian Gate, responsible for schools and colleges, has written to all headteachers in Harrow and urged them, as key community leaders, to respect and recognise the views of the whole community.

“That means giving serious consideration to offering an alternative menu with non-Halal meat, which offers choice to all faith and interest groups.

“This will help schools focus on ensuring that all children across Harrow have access to healthy and nutritious school meals.”

Harrow Interfaith Council took a stand against the policy in September, warning that some mothers and fathers were even considering taking their children out of schools.

Sikh representative Paramjit Singh Kohli announced the launch of a petition over the policy last week, and said he will try to collect as many as 2 million signatures from across the UK.

Schools also provide vegetarian and fish options, but those who oppose the scheme say this is not enough.

Mr Kohli told the Harrow Times in September: “Fish and vegetarian dishes are not the alternative, the alternative is non-halal meat. Those dishes are for the people who are vegetarian and vegan.”

Harrow Central Mosque did not back the decision, saying it was grateful for the Halal option but other faith groups should be considered as well.

Ghulam Rabbani said he was concerned people might think the council was doing favours for the Muslim community.