After a request by students at Rosebery, a larger prayer space has been made available.

Originally a place to pray was offered in the small hub area of student services, but with implemented social distancing rules this winter, four Rosebery students talked to the deputy head about a more spacious and regular area for them.

For their specific prayer, Zuhr, the sun needs to be up. In summer it could be done at home, but now with shorter days in winter, the issue was raised for a necessary prayer room. With the impact of COVID-19, the previously used area isn’t big enough to accommodate.

“School resembles a workplace, it should be accommodating - for all faiths,” a key point that one of the students, Nadia Subhan, made.

Mr Lach, the Head of the school has been working with the group to arrange a space for them.

At the moment, they are using a classroom that is cleared out for lunch. Occasionally there were days when the room was not free, but this has been fixed - the room is now booked permanently, and all teachers have been made aware of the room’s use during lunchtimes.

There are plans to ask for a more permanent space, a multi-faith area for the sole purpose of reflection and prayer, similar to ones already available in airports and some other schools.

As Nadia says, “It’s better to have a solid room that you know will always be there.”

Not much word has been spread about the room’s new lunchtime function either, currently used by the four sixth formers only. Both Nadia and Nuha Rifai are worried the school might “forget about it if we’re not here.”

“They need to put a label to it; every year can be there.” The room is large enough to fit other years socially distanced, however the school has drawn no attention to it as of yet.

There’s a larger question at hand also: why, as an attributed multicultural society, are these spaces not catered for in every school? There is no policy in place, and a petition was held several months ago but did not achieve enough signatures.

There are some schools that do offer these spaces, Nuha gave the example of her old school, Epsom Primary.

With the success of a current room in use at Rosebery, it is clear now that more action is needed to make multi-faith prayer and reflection areas available in all work-related spaces.