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Christian School Goes on 'Lockdown' After Parents Protest Removal of Cross From Logo

Oak CE Primary School
A parent participates in a protest outside of the holds up the new version of the Oak CE Primary School in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire to protest the removal of a cross from the school's logo. |

A new Church of England-associated school has been forced to go on "lockdown" as it faces outrage from parents and students for removing a cross from its student-designed school logo.

According to the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, parents and students are furious with Oak CE Primary School in the Crosland Moor district of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire after school officials decided to redesign the school logo by scrubbing out a cross featured in the logo.

The primary institution, which is funded by the state and governed by both the Kirklees Council and the Church of England, opened on May 3 as a result of a merger between three preexisting schools.

The school first launched with a logo that featured an oak tree with trunk and branches aligned noticeably in the shape of a cross, which was designed by a student who won a contest between students from each of the three merging schools. The logo was placed on welcome banners and sample versions of school uniforms.

But just weeks after the school opened, the logo was changed and the cross was removed and replaced by a tree trunk and three branches. The new logo was featured in a school newsletter that was sent to parents last week.

After noticing the removal of the cross from the logo, parents and students gathered out in front of the school's gates earlier this week to protest the removal.

The Examiner reports that the school sent a text to parents on Wednesday to notify them that all of school's gates would be locked "due to safeguarding concerns."

"Access will be from Main Gate only which will be opened from 3:10 p.m.," the school's text to parents read. "Should you need to visit school before this please ring."

A Kirklees Council spokesman told the Examiner that the school gates were closed as a "precautionary measure to ensure continued safety of pupils and staff during this period of increased media interest."

Officials from the Kirklees Council explained that the logo was only "temporary" and denied that any complaints had been made about the cross. Additionally, the school's headteacher, David Bendall, sent a letter to parents on Monday saying that the cross logo was never confirmed as the as the final logo.

"It was not confirmed as the final logo and was amended to give more prominence to the tree, which not only reflects the school name but is also an ancient symbol representing many beliefs," Bendall said in a statement. "Changing the design to include three branches also meant we could signify the way Oak Primary was formed, which was three schools joining together as one."

"The decision was made jointly by governors and the diocese and the change does not in any way alter the identity or ethos of our school," Bendall added.

Although school officials said that no complaints had been received about the logo, protesting parents are having a hard time believing the headmaster's explanation and some believe the cross was removed so that it wouldn't offend anyone in the community's Muslim population.

"Staff have said people have complained about the cross yet the head is saying it was only temporary," Niki Trepak, who has four kids attending the school, said, according to the Examiner. "Why would you make temporary banners and produce temporary uniforms?"

"This isn't about race, it's the fact that they've removed the cross so as to not offend people," Trepak added. "If it's going to remain a Church of England school it should keep the cross."

Chelsea Fox, another parent, told the Examiner that the logo change is disappointing and she feels "disgusted."

"The offensive card is always played and this one time I was proud of something, only to have it snatched back," she said. "Yes, it has remained a Church of England school as it is the church that keeps it open. … That needs to be given more respect."

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

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