Boy, 9, who died from allergic reaction after 'eating fish and chips school dinner' at Islamic school is named

Stephen Walter
A 10-year-old boy has died allegedly from an allergic reaction to fish served at Al-Hijrah School.  - Image license supplied to Caters from source

A nine-year-old boy who allegedly died from a suspected allergic reaction to a fish and chips school dinner has today been named as dozens of mourners gathered to pay their respects.

The death of Ishmael Ashraf has shocked the community of Small Heath in Birmingham after the youngster collapsed on Friday afternoon, and efforts to resuscitate him failed.

His family are said to be distraught as his father joined friends in turning out in remembrance of the schoolboy at a mosque in the city last night.

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.

"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 Sparkbrook Central Mosque yesterday evening.

A 10-year-old boy has died allegedly from an allergic reaction to fish served at Al-Hijrah School.  - Credit: DAN ROWLANDS/CATERS NEWS

The mosque’s 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."

Police continue to investigate his sudden death at Al-Hijrah School in Small Heath, where the popular dish is served every Friday. Birmingham City Council are also looking into the circumstances of his death.

Ishmael, a year five pupil at Al-Hijrah School in Birmingham was taken by ambulance at 2.20pm to Heartlands Hospital where he died.

A parent, whose son is in the same class as the boy, said: “Fish and chips Fridays is a weekly thing at the school.

"He ate lunch at about 12.30pm and at around 2pm the ambulance service were called and tried to do CPR but couldn't and he died. The teachers couldn't find his EpiPen.”

Azra Ali, whose four children attend the school, said: " 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.”


A 10-year-old boy has died allegedly from an allergic reaction to fish served at Al-Hijrah School.  - Credit: DAN ROWLANDS/CATERS NEWS

The school, which has 780 children aged four to 16, is funded and managed by Birmingham City Council, and although it is not a faith school all of its pupils are Muslim and the curriculum follows an Islamic ethos.

It was placed into special measures by Ofsted in 2013 after it was rated as “inadequate”. A month later the entire governing body was sacked over financial troubles.

Police also visited the premises over links to the "Trojan Horse" plot, when individuals working for the trust that once owned the school were said to have links with Muslim figures working to remove secular head teachers.

Two years ago, it was also at the centre of claims that it was sending money 5,000 miles away to fund a school in Pakistan while running up debts of almost £3 million.

This money, thought to be around £1 million, allegedly came from public funding earmarked for dining tables and chairs at the school, but instead pupils were made to eat meals on the floor due to a lack of basic facilities.

A West Midlands Police spokesman confirmed it had received reports the boy had collapsed after suffering a suspected allergic reaction.

Colin Diamond, executive director for education at Birmingham City Council, said: "We were so sorry to hear about this tragic death and our thoughts are with his family and friends."

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