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Slough teacher hits out as school cuts paid leave for religious holidays

Teachers at a special needs school have hit out after losing two days of paid annual leave for religious festivals.

Muslim members of staff at Arbour Vale School, in Farnham Road, Slough, had been preparing to take time off this week to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan.

But when they applied for time off before half-term a few weeks ago, they were told by the school’s new management they could only take unpaid leave.

The school converted to an academy in November and joined the Orchard Hill College Academy Trust (OHCAT).

Teacher Memtaz Khan said: “They (OHCAT) told all the staff there would be no changes and everything would stay the same but that hasn’t been the case.

“According to the old policy, we are entitled to three days of paid leave for religious festivals per year and they said, as they are now an academy, they are revising their policies.”

After returning from their half-term break on Monday, the school’s Muslim staff were told the trust had relented and agreed to one day of annual paid holiday leave for religious festivals.

But Memtaz, who started teaching at the school in 2015, said her colleagues should not be made to choose which religious holiday they could take off.

“How do we pick and choose which day we are going to get paid?

“Both of our Eid holidays are of the same importance.

“It’s like being able to take Christmas Day off as paid leave and then being told you have to take Easter as unpaid holiday.”

Dr Caroline Allen, chief executive and principal of the Orchard Hill College Academy Trust, said: “Schools that join the OHCAT come from different local authorities and with varying practice which we review to ensure there is clarity for all our staff going forward.

“All OHCAT policies are set with the best interests of our pupils and students in mind.

“OHCAT will therefore include a policy of one day paid leave for staff to celebrate religious festivals.”

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