PRESS RELEASE: Batley Grammar School protests

The importance of Trust Building

Dr Musharraf Hussain OBE, DL, of the Trust Building Forum, Karimia Institute (Nottingham) praises Batley Grammar School and the Muslim community for their efforts to work together and rebuild trust.

Willingness to talk and willingness to listen is essential to repair hurt and misunderstandings in our society. The spokesperson for the parents Mr Yunus Lunat said to me: “It’s crucial everyone behaves responsibly – that includes the press. The positive relationship between the school, its pupils, parents and wider community must be preserved”.

Whilst applauding the school’s admission of error, we also commend the wisdom of the Muslim community leaders for whom the love and the honour of the beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) is the foundation of their faith. We must of course acknowledge that Muslims were hurt by the RE teacher’s behaviour and lost a lot of trust in the school – but we must also celebrate that by sharing their feelings with the school, the concerned parents began to see things differently and realised that the teacher’s intention was not what we first imagined. As British citizens, we urge the school and the Muslim community to continue this path of dealing with the issue quickly and effectively.

This requires bold and wise leadership on both sides. You can’t put rebuilding trust on autopilot, it’s a manual process, a hands-on activity, we must champion, guard and nurture it. We must ensure that both parties can feel that their own vulnerability and needs are being respected. The dynamics of trust are delicate in any relationship. Trust is mutual, it’s an ongoing conversation between two groups.

Most importantly, we should not allow anyone to hijack this issue so they can spread hatred and ‘them’ and ‘us’ schism in our community. We must not allow ourselves to be distracted by those who would seek to use this to divide us and stand firm in our celebration of the open communication and commitment to progress that has and is continuing, to take place. As we have seen in Batley, trust can be earned, it can be lost – but it can be regained.