Burnham, May 27, 2005
CONTROLS on pupils bringing ceremonial knives into
our schools are virtually nonexistant, a survey conducted
by the Slough Express has found.
Of the 12 schools contacted by this newspaper only
one gave a clear policy on the wearing of 'kirpans',
the Sikh ceremonial knife, by pupils.
The quiz of heads and deputy heads followed our report
of how a Burnham Grammar pupil will be allowed to
wear the knife as long as the blade is under two inches
Burnham Grammar is now introducing a system for all
Sikh parents to declare if their child wears the symbol
in the classroom.
NRI, Dr Inderjit Singh, of the Network of Sikh organisations
- who upholds the right to wear the kirpan in schools
- told the Express, staff must know who is wearing
But this week, head-teachers and deputy heads said
it had 'never been an issue', with only one - Burnham
Upper School - having a system of declaration in place.
Concerned parents have contacted the Express all
week with views - one said she would no longer consider
Burnham Grammar as an option for her daughter in light
of the decision.
But many Sikhs contacted us to tell how important
the kirpan is to their religious beliefs and how the
responsibility of wearing one was not borne lightly.
A spokesman for Slough Borough Council told the Express
uniform policies were a matter for the individual
Here are just some of your comments:
John Gould, 36, a paint sprayer from Britwell and
father of Slough and Eton pupil Steve, 14 "I
think it is disgusing, especially when there is a
girl who can't wear a crucifix which is part of her
"Some people might class me as being racist,
but I am not very happy with them having it. It just
takes one child being bullied and it may be pulled
as a last resort and potentially stab someone."
Sukhvinder Sanghera, 47, a father of three from Baylis
who works as a security officer in Uxbridge: "The
kirpan is one of the five important items of a practising
Sikh, symbolising defence of the downtrodden.
"A baptised Sikh understands repsonsibilities
and acts sensibly.
"I can understand the need for teachers to know
who is wearing kirpans so they are aware of misuse
or them being snatched by someone else.
"It is not really a sword. I can't see it doing
damage when compared to items in geometry class. I
am surprised a crucifix cannot be worn by a practising
The mother of a Burnham Grammar sixth form student,
who did not wish to be named: "I cannot belive
that this boy is being allowed to wear a knife to
"With the level of violence in schools, can
anyone be trusted regardless of their religion.
"He is only a boy. I shall be writing to the
"We are not in India or Pakistan. When in Rome."
Tavandeep Singh Sandhu, 17, lives in Slough and goes
to a Sikh school in Hayes. The blade of his kirpan
is 'more than three inches' long
"The word kirpan comes from 'kirpa' meaning
'mercy' and 'An' meaning 'honour'.
"It's purpose is to defend the honour of those
who cannot defend themselves against oppressors.
"There have never been any cases of kirpans
being snatched from someone."