Muslim student loses court bid over school’s Michaela Community School’s ‘prayer ban’


boy praying

A Muslim student’s legal challenge against a prestigious London school’s ban on prayer rituals has been unsuccessful, sparking a national conversation on religious freedom in educational institutions.

The student, whose identity remains undisclosed, brought a case against Michaela Community School in northwest London, contending that the prohibition discriminated against her faith, particularly because of its highly structured observance.

She asserted that the school’s restriction on on-site prayers violated her religious freedom and perpetuated a form of discrimination that marginalised religious minorities in society.

In a written verdict, Justice Thomas Linden dismissed the student’s claims, stating that by enrolling at the institution, she had effectively agreed to abide by its regulations, including those concerning religious practices.

He deemed the school’s policy on prayer rituals to be reasonable, finding that its objectives and the means employed to achieve them outweighed any negative impact on the rights of Muslim students attending the school.

Expressing disappointment with the outcome, the student and her mother affirmed their belief in challenging the ban, emphasising their commitment to their faith and personal convictions.

Michaela Community School, known for its stringent disciplinary measures, defended its policy as justified, citing concerns about potential divisions among students based on religious affiliations.

In response to the court’s decision, Katharine Birbalsingh, the school’s head teacher, hailed it as a victory for educational institutions’ autonomy in shaping policies that best serve their students’ interests.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan echoed this sentiment, emphasising the importance of empowering school leaders to make decisionsimg-align-ed with their respective school communities’ needs and values.