The family of a nine-year-old boy who is alleged to have died from an allergic reaction are desperately trying to confirm what ended the young boy’s life.
Paramedics were called to Al-Hijrah School in Small Heath, Birmingham on Friday after Ishmael Ashraf collapsed.
But they failed to resuscitate him and he was pronounced dead at the school.
West Midlands Police have launched an investigation into the tragedy, following initial reports that the pupil had collapsed after ‘suffering a suspected allergic reaction’.
Ishmael’s father was mourning for his son in prayer with dozens of friends and family who turned out in remembrance of the schoolboy at a mosque in Sparkbrook, Birmingham.
Ishmael’s uncle, who didn’t want to be named, said: ‘This has hurt the family deeply, and we’re now praying to get through this.
‘There are a lot of untruths in what has been said about my nephew’s death, nobody was even there to see what happened.’
‘He was a lovely boy and we’re now speaking closely with the authorities to find out what ended his life.’
His grieving father could not bear to share his feelings with anyone about his loss and was ushered in and out of the Jamia Masjid Sparkbrook, UKIM mosque.
The mosque’s Imam and the boy’s uncle were united with friends in saying how devastated the family are and they hope to be given time and space to come to terms with their loss.
Tonight mourners at Sparkbrook Mosque paid their respects to the young boy who has not been officially named
The Imam said: ‘This is a tragic loss for the community, and especially for the family of Ishmael.
‘Everybody is shaken at the passing of such a lovely boy and we are working with the police to find out what really happened.’
Ishmael, a year five pupil at Al-Hijrah School in Birmingham was taken by ambulance at 2.20pm to Heartlands Hospital where he died.
Ishmael’s relatives have denied claims made by a father at the school that he died from a reaction to his well-known fish allergy after being served fish and chips.
Police said they are working with the school and Birmingham City Council to establish the circumstances surrounding his death.
A parent whose son was in the same class as Ishmael said: ‘Fish and chips Fridays is a weekly thing at the school but why this boy was served when it is known by everyone that he has a fish allergy, I really don’t know.
‘The teachers couldn’t find his epi-pen kept at the school in accordance with his Special Educational Needs statement which says he has a fish allergy.
He said: ‘All the parents are mortified and furious that this has been allowed to happen.’
West Midlands Police have launched an investigation into the tragedy, following initial reports that the boy had collapsed after ‘suffering a suspected allergic reaction’.
Al Hijrah School has been at the centre of controversy
The Al Hijrah School in Small Heath, Birmingham, has been at the centre of controversy over the years.
It was placed into special measures by Ofsted in December 2013 after a damning report labelled it as ‘inadequate’.
A Government-backed interim executive board (IEB) took over running the school in May 2014, after the council forced out the old governors and sacked its headteacher.
In August 2014, former chairman of governors at the school, Waseem Yaqub, was sued for £100,000 over his conduct.
He was accused of harassment, intimidation and trespassing, but denied the claims, according to the Birmingham Mail.
Birmingham City Council also launched an inquiry in 2015 after claims were made that £1 million of public money sent to the Bordesley Green school found its way to funding construction of a school in Pakistan.
The council later revealed the school was ‘in excess of £3 million in debt’ in February 2015.
The latest Ofsted report into the school, published on Jan 5, 2016, said the school had improved, and classed it as ‘requires improvement’.
Police are working with the school and Birmingham City Council to establish the circumstances around his death – a post mortem will take place, and the child’s family are being supported by specially trained officers.
Colin Diamond, executive director for education at Birmingham City Council, said the school was ‘doing all it can to support the family through this terrible time’.
A parent at the school, who didn’t want to be named, said: ‘There was a choice of pizza or fish.
‘He went for the fish even though he was allergic as he didn’t fancy the pizza.
‘Being Friday they then went into prayers but he collapsed in front of everyone.
‘He was so popular with teachers and pupils. Everyone was devastated.
‘He has a sister at the school too.’
Another parent, Azra Ali, said: ‘My kids attend that school – they are eight, seven, five and four – and we’ve never had any problems with the school at all.
‘They have learnt a lot in that school, teachers are really good and always at home time tell us how the kids have been – I’m proud for my kids to go to that school.
‘As for the death of that poor soul – I cannot believe it, I’m still shaken. All the kids played in the same playground.
‘My son did see the ambulance, and some teachers were crying. But I do not blame the school for his death.’
Al-Hijrah school which educates 780 children from ages five to 16 has been in special measures since its last Ofsted inspection, and there is also an investigation into financial irregularities.
Although it is funded and managed by Birmingham City Council, it is not a faith school but all of its pupils are Muslim and the curriculum follows an Islamic ethos.
The controversial Al-Hijrah school has come under fire in the past – the school was placed in special measures by Ofsted in May 2014, after a damning report branded it ‘inadequate.’
A month later the entire governing body was sacked after financial troubles were revealed, which included a £900,000 budget deficit, and a new interim board took over.
A source said at the time: ‘The school in Birmingham is falling apart, its roof is leaking and there is little space for outdoor play. Yet the Trust has used £1 million to build a new school in Pakistan. It beggars belief.’
In June 2014 it was caught up in the Trojan Horse scandal, and protests broke out as parents and students fought a Department for Education takeover, amid claims their school was subject to a secret Islamist infiltration.
Six months later, in December 2014, an investigation was launched after claims £1million of taxpayers’ money had been used to fund a state-of-the-art sister school in Pakistan.
In 2015 the school was in the spotlight again, after Birmingham’s education commissioner said the debt-riddled and dilapidated building should be bulldozed and replaced.
The Imam of Sparkbrook Mosque and the boy’s uncle said the family are devastated, as they’ve lost a ‘lovely boy’.
The Imam said earlier: ‘This is a tragic loss for the community, and especially for the family.
‘We are working with the police to find out what really happened.’
The boy’s uncle added: ‘This has hurt the family deeply, and we’re now praying to get through this.’
People on Facebook have paid tribute to the young pupil as they slammed the school and branded it a ‘shambles’.
Mohammed Rashid said: ‘May Allah give his family patience in this difficult time.
‘That school needs to be shut down!’
Another Facebook user wrote: ‘I worked in Al Hijrah as a teaching assistant, it’s a complete shambles, no wonder they are under special measures!’
Another parent said distraught teachers were crying as the boy collapsed during post-lunch prayers.
A Birmingham City Council spokesman confirmed that a child had died.
According to a father at the school where the boy died, parents are outraged that he was fed fish in the first place.
But the boy’s uncle denied he had a fish allergy.
He said: ‘At the moment the death is a mystery and we won’t know the reason until there has been a proper investigation.
‘My nephew had a dairy allergy but was not allergic to fish as far as is known, so it is wrong to suggest that is what happened.
‘He was a bright, very happy child and he was loved by his school.
‘But there has been nothing yet to confirm how he died.
‘We have been left in the dark, we don’t know the cause of his death and we won’t know until an investigation has been completed.’
He also said that the tragic boy had been very close to his younger brother and sister and that his death had devastated the whole family.
He was not willing to identify the boy or his parents.
He said: ‘It’s too soon for that’.
A spokeswoman for West Midlands Police told the MailOnline: ‘Police are investigating after a nine year old child died after being taken ill at school yesterday.
‘Emergency services were called to the Al Hijrah School in Burbidge Road, Bordesley Green at 2.20pm Friday 3 March, following reports a pupil had collapsed after suffering a suspected allergic reaction.
‘The boy was rushed to Heartlands Hospital, where he tragically later died.
‘A post mortem will take place and the child’s family are being supported by specially trained officers.
‘Police are working with the school and Birmingham City Council to establish the circumstances around his death.’
Credit…ISOBEL FRODSHAM FOR MAILONLINE