16th April 2024

High Court finds Michaela School acted lawfully in banning prayer rituals

Miriam Carrion Benitez

Linden J has today handed down judgment in R (TTT) v Michaela Community Schools Trust.  The London Borough of Brent, where the school is located, acted as an Interested Party and remained neutral to the dispute throughout the proceedings.

TTT is a Muslim pupil at the School founded and led by Katherine Birbalsingh, namely the Michaela Community School.  The pupil wished to pray during the lunchtime recess but the School refused on the ground that it did not promote the team ethos of the school which claimed to be one of inclusivity and social cohesion across all races and religions.

The Court found that the prayer ban did not breach the right to freedom to manifest her religious beliefs under Article 9 of the EHCR and section 19 of the Equality Act 2010.  Linden J found that any disadvantage caused to Muslim students by the ban was outweighed by the aims that the School seeks to promote in the interests of the School community as a whole.  On a narrow point, the Court found that a fixed term suspension had been unlawful in that the School had failed to properly investigate the facts, including taking the pupil’s account into consideration.

In England there is currently no national guidance on religious practices in schools and none is expected in the near future.

The Court’s press summary can be found here.

The London Borough of Brent was represented by Miriam Carrion Benitez.

Further information

For more information from the public-law team, contact clerks@36public.co.uk