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Michaela School case and religious expression: A lawyer’s takeaways

michaela school case prayer ban

The Michaela School’s successful defence of a claim from a student challenging the school’s ban on prayer rituals has been widely reported. Here, Alex Temple from Bindman’s Education team takes a look at what the ruling could mean for religious freedom in educational settings.

Michaela School is well known for its strict behavior policies and regimented school day, with its headteacher boasting it is the “strictest school in Britain”.

The school has not historically banned prayer rituals, but says that before March 2023 no students took up the option of doing prayers in school hours. There was some dispute over this but, in any event, what was true is that the school had explicitly refused to have a prayer room on school grounds, despite half the student body being Muslim.

In early 2023, Muslim students began undertaking ritual prayers during their lunch break in the school’s yard, using blazers as prayer mats given the school’s ban on carrying personal property. Around March, some students began bringing in pocket prayer mats and some were confiscated, whilst the use of blazers for prayers was tolerated.

This led to very public accusations of Islamophobia against the school from members of the public who could see what was happening through the school fence.

Read more on Bindman’s website.

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Michaela School case reveals striking forced secularism

Photo by Towfiqu Barbhuiya on Unsplash

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