The headteacher of a Bradford school at the centre of a legal dispute arising over its decision to refuse Muslim pupils a room to perform their daily prayers is said to have referred to the Government’s counter radicalisation strategy, Prevent, in a letter to a local MP setting out the school’s position.
The Huddersfield Examiner reports that Lorraine Barker, executive principal of Mirfield Grammar School, wrote to Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox about the dispute referring in her letter to the Prevent strategy. Solicitor Yusuf Lunat, who is acting for pupils and parents at the centre of the dispute, claims to have seen the letter. He has questioned why a policy focused on safeguarding individuals suspected of being vulnerable to radicalisation is being drawn into a dialogue about meeting the needs of Muslim pupils in school.
Lunat said: “I have put the contents of the letter to the principal who hasn’t replied. As far as I am concerned this has nothing to do with Prevent. This is simply to do with students wanting five minutes to pray.
“Why Prevent was referred to in that letter we can only speculate.
“Why all these emotive subjects and terms had to be referred to I don’t know.”
The school maintains that it does not have prayer facilities and that pupils are at liberty to attend a local mosque to perform the daily prayers. The option skirts the school’s willingness to accommodate the needs of Muslim pupils and neglects the interruption to the teaching schedule by pupils who are often late to lessons because of having to pray off site.
Parents of pupils at the school have threatened legal action over the dispute which has been going on since October 2014. Last week, the papers reported that Muslim pupils were left to pray outdoors in cold and wet conditions.