Our Executive Principal’s Ramadan Blog

The Holy Month of Ramadan has been such an enlightening experience for all of us here at Beech Hall School Riyadh. As an international school attended by a truly global pupil population, it’s critically important that we ensure the month is understood, respected and valued by everyone here, regardless of their individual religious beliefs or cultural experiences. 

This high level of understanding and appreciation has been reached in several different ways – all of which, for me, really exemplify the level of empathy and pride of which each member of our community is capable.

Staff Development

Several of the British staff new to the Kingdom wanted to know more about Ramadan: the importance of it, how it’s marked, and especially how those of us who aren’t practising Muslims can support those who are. Many of the local staff were very keen to help develop their knowledge, and offered to run some Professional Development sessions on the topic. These sessions were very well-attended, and they really served to inform us all about why the month holds such importance, and how we can all be a part of it. This also enabled our staff to learn and develop as one, really enhancing our sense of community and shared vision. 

Student Engagement

Perhaps inspired by the brilliant staff, some of the pupils also took on the mantle of helping us all to better understand the month, and enable us to see the experience from their point of view. Grade 7 pupils created the most amazing presentations including slide decks, dates, and even quizzes with prizes. They took their showcase on the road, visiting our Primary classes to ensure their fellow pupils better understood the meaning and experience of Ramadan. I was blown away by the quality of their presentations, but even more so by the pride they so clearly hold for their religion, culture, and traditions. The Primary pupils asked some superb questions, showing a really high level of engagement and understanding.

A Community Iftar

It’s clear that the Holy Month holds such a high level of importance to our families and the local community, and it has been so interesting for me to experience my first Ramadan in Riyadh. Having checked first that it would be culturally appropriate to do so, I even attempted my first fast. I wanted to see what my pupils and colleagues were experiencing – and I am now even more impressed by their commitment than I was before! We also had non-Muslim children trying to fast, as one told me, in ‘support of his brothers and sisters’ who fast for the whole month. 

As we came towards the end of term, it was really important to me that we came together to celebrate an Iftar as a whole school community. All families and staff were invited to come and break their fast together here in our beautiful school. It was such an honour to welcome so many people to our event, and to see families sitting together, making new connections in the community and sharing the joy of such delicious food. Many of our local families were quick to explain to new families the traditions of Ramadan, and many of our international families loved experiencing their first Iftar. Having fasted for two days before the Iftar, I was delighted to sit and break bread (as well as many other delicious foods) with my colleagues and families from across our school. Watching the senior pupils end the evening with some chess was the icing on the cake – how mature and sophisticated our students are!

Through the collaborative efforts from both staff and pupils, we’ve deepened our appreciation for the significance of Ramadan, transcending cultural and religious boundaries. This level of empathy makes me very proud indeed, and shows me that we have really developed and enhanced a global community rooted in mutual respect, kindness, and shared values, fuelled by open-mindedness.

Clemmie Stewart,

Executive Principal