Pupils at Mirfield Free Grammar School are being forced to perform their obligatory prayers outdoors because it is believed the School is refusing them permission to use space inside the building. The dispute is now in its second year and parents are upset that their children once again have to brave the winter months praying either in the school car park or on the roadside or grass verge often in rain and snow and in secret.

Image Source: Asian Sunday
Image Source: Asian Sunday

With the shorter winter days the students are unable to go to any nearby mosques to pray their Zohar (midday) and Asar (mid-afternoon) and Friday prayers.  In the past the school had allowed students to use the sports hall to double up as a prayer facility but this has been denied since last year.

Muslim pupils have pleaded with the school to allow them to continue to use the school facilities to pray after it was suddenly withdrawn in October 2014 without any explanation.  A group of students went to the length of submitting a polite written request to the Principal asking her to reconsider the decision.  Even though this was countersigned by more than 70 students it was refused.  It is believed though, after nearly two years of courteous and respectful appeals, and despite attempts by a number of bodies and individuals, including the Kirklees Faith Forum led by Tony Robinson, the Bishop of Pontefract, representatives of mosques, a Councillor and Jo Cox MP for Batley and Spen to help resolve the dispute, the School has maintained its stance.  The only concession that has been made is for sixth formers to use the House of Resurrection for Friday Jumma prayers.  Students are however missing up to 30 minutes of lessons due to the distance and therefore reject this as an unsatisfactory resolution, added to the fact that this only applies to sixth formers.

Image Source: Asian Sunday
Image Source: Asian Sunday

Last year the students braved the cold winter months and were forced to pray outside in all conditions, including the rain and the snow and with this scenario repeating itself for a second year now that the winter months have set in, the students and parents have instructed solicitors to take on their plea as a last resort.

Mr Yunus Lunat, Solicitor Advocate from Ison Harrison of Leeds who is representing the pupils and parents said, “It is a sad and unfortunate situation that has been allowed to fester and perpetuate.  The phrase “taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut” comes to mind.”

Parents are anxious that the pupils have to go through the same anguish and distress for a second year.  To make matters worse many of the pupils have been disciplined by the Principal, with some on final warnings and facing expulsions.

Parents are also worried and concerned at the adverse effect all this is having upon on their education, with many of the pupils studying for GCSE and A Levels.

A parent of a pupil at the school stated: “We as parents are very worried and concerned that our children are having to pray outside and are fearful for their safety, especially with so much negativity about Muslims in the national media recently.  It is also not helping our pupils to concentrate fully on their learning and for our child this is a very important year. ”

Another parent complained of his child returning home in soaking wet clothing from having to pray outside in the recent wet weather.  The parent added “it cannot be easy for my son to go back into the classroom and concentrate when he is soaked to the skin and having to sit in wet and damp clothing.”

Asian Sunday contacted the school for comment, however they failed to respond. Campaigners have told Asian Sunday that Mrs Lorraine Barker, Executive Principle of the Mirfield Free Grammar School has already outlined a number of reasons for refusal including a lack of facilities and an inability to keep a check on whether students were praying or not.  Campaigners add that Mrs Barker has also claimed that this change in policy was decided by the Governors.  It has also been highlighted by campaigners that the school does not appear to have any Governors from the Muslim faith and therefore they feel the school isn’t representative of the needs of the children who attend.

Mr Yakub Badat, Chair of the Snowdon Street Mosque who the students turned to for support and has been a vocal campaigner of similar causes expressed disappointment at the stance taken by the school.  “We as a community want to work together in partnership with the school in providing the best possible learning experience for our children.  All the other schools in the area proudly boast of the facilities that they provide for Muslim children.  We would actually be willing to help the school by fundraising to enable the school to provide such facilities if cost is an issue.”

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9 Comments

  1. November 29, 2015 at 6:38 am — Reply

    Recently I’ve had some trouble focusing and committing to Salah. These students have inspired me to take Salah seriously again. I’m so proud of them, Masha Allah. May Allah SWT bless them with the highest of blessings in duniya and akhira. I don’t have proper words to express my love for them. Keep it up! You’re an inspiration to many…trust me.

  2. Abdul qadir
    November 29, 2015 at 8:17 am — Reply

    Assalamu Alaykum
    Keep on going keep strong never miss a prayer in jamat .. And keep knocking on those doors until they open .. You loose nothing

  3. Abu Isa
    November 29, 2015 at 11:47 am — Reply

    If anyone knows these brothers I know someone that could maybe rent a house next door to the school so they can pray

  4. Shaan Rafi
    November 29, 2015 at 5:11 pm — Reply

    As a former student of the school I find this absolutely ridiculous and unacceptable, especially when the school has such a large percentage which are Muslim. Instead of trying to stop hatred spreading, actions like this provoke it. And I’m sure if cost is an issue pretty much every Muslim family would contribute to praying facilities.
    Stay steadfast.

  5. Sabera Osman
    November 29, 2015 at 8:09 pm — Reply

    Allah will reward all those children for praying in such harsh circumstances. Ameen. Keep it up. InashaAllah you’ll will inspire more youth to pray their salaah.

  6. Rabiah
    November 29, 2015 at 8:32 pm — Reply

    I’m very proud of my brothers who r reading namaz in all these circumstances , May Allah swt reward them great here and hereafter, and they r example for other Muslim students as well. It’s very shameful for that school not to allow them reading prayer indoor

  7. November 30, 2015 at 2:39 pm — Reply

    This is beyond disgusting and I’m surprised that it is legal to discriminate against school children on the basis of their belief. After the Trojan Horse fiasco at appears that Muslims aren’t allowed to be governors any more, especially if they are observant, and now you have governors who are punishing the children others for following their belief.

    At-least it’s not France, where they’d be arrested for praying in public.

  8. Miss Dennis Queen
    December 1, 2015 at 10:07 am — Reply

    I am so sorry to hear this sad news – what a disgrace. If it isn’t illegal it ought to be and a big up to the students sticking by their beliefs and praying anyway.

    Phobic, disgusting, discriminatory, and unfair .

  9. Tallha Khan
    December 1, 2015 at 1:35 pm — Reply

    How can we show support for these pupils and make a point to the school?

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