Outwood Primary Academy Greenhill Principal, Mr Martin Fenton said a new catering company had been appointed

A primary school in Wakefield has apologised to parents for serving non-halal meat that was labelled as halal to its Muslim pupils.

Principal of Outwood Primary Academy Greenhill in Wakefield, Mr Martin Fenton said he discovered in recent days that not all the meat served to pupils in the past was halal, despite being labelled as such.

The school, run by Outwood Grange Academies Trust, set up its own kitchen in 2016, according to a letter sent out to parents by Mr Fenton. He said the canteen decided to serve only halal meat “some years ago… because that is important to the majority of our community”.

Mr Fenton said that following the issue, senior leaders had made “changes that will ensure this cannot happen again”, and a specialist catering company has now been appointed.

“I know that you will be very disappointed to hear this news but I would like to reassure you that it was a mistake and I am very sorry that it has happened,” he said in the letter to parents.

A spokesperson from Outwood Grange Academies Trust, in statement to Asian Express, said: “We offer a sincere apology for this unfortunate situation and have taken immediate action to prevent any recurrence.

“Since identifying this serious issue, which pre-dates the school joining our Trust, we have been working with the local authority, who oversaw the school until September 2022, to actively engage with the community, local councillors and faith leaders who have told us that they are confident in the actions we have taken.

“The school joined our Trust at the beginning of this academic year when it was rated ‘Inadequate’ by Ofsted. Since then, we have been auditing every aspect of the school’s operations, including its processes and contracts in order to raise standards. Moving forward, we will continue our formal investigation to ascertain the full details of the situation.”

‘Extremely disappointed’

Councillor Akef Akbar

Wakefield East councillor Akef Akbar said: “I am disappointed that the school has misrepresented halal food.

“Consuming halal is fundamental to the Islamic way of life. As Muslims we regularly eat vegetarian where meat options are not available, if the school were unable to cater it should have made known so that students and parents could have made an informed decision.

“On the other hand, I am appreciative that the Outwood Grange Academy Trust conducted an immediate investigation, acted transparently, and promptly to address and rectify the issue. Their actions demonstrate their commitment to treating this matter seriously.”

Cllr Akbar met with Sir Martyn Oliver, CEO of Outwood Grange Academies Trust, other leading members of the Trust, Andy Lancashire Service Director for Education at Wakefield Council, other local councillors and representatives from both Swafia and Ghausia Masjid.

Cllr Akbar explains: “Prior to 2017, school meals were provided by Wakefield Council’s school catering service, Kingswood. When Kingswood provided the school meals, all the meat was halal. But from 2017 onwards the school has delivered its own catering arrangements, in-house.

“Wakefield Council have expressed that they are extremely disappointed that a school in our district has misrepresented food served to their pupils.

“But, I appreciate the school’s transparent and prompt action and their commitment to treating this matter seriously.”

The school have profusely apologised as have the council. Sir Martyn has confirmed that he will ensure all schools under the trust obtain HMC certification.