The headteacher at a school being taken to court by a pupil after it banned Muslim prayer rituals says the case is “taking a massive toll”.

Michaela Community School in Brent claims allowing prayers - one of the five pillars of Islam - risks “undermining inclusion and social cohesion between pupils”.

The school claims the ban was brought in after a “vitriolic campaign of abuse, harassment and threats” against staff by those pushing for Muslim pupils to observe prayers.

The free school is facing a High Court legal challenge from a Muslim student who claims not allowing prayer on the premises is discriminatory and “uniquely” affects her faith due to its ritualised nature. About half of the school's 700 pupils are Muslim.

Headteacher Katharine Birbalsingh has asserted some pupils started prayer rituals amid a campaign of "violence, intimidation and appalling racial harassment of our teachers”.

The two-day hearing in London before Mr Justice Linden ended on Wednesday. The judge said he would deliver his ruling “as quickly as possible”.

Ms Birbalsingh, the founder of the free school, about half of whom are Muslim, told The Sunday Times the process was “taking a massive toll”.

“I go to school and am worried,” she said. “I am at Michaela at 6.45am every day.

“All my teachers and I are trying to do is run a successful school and make the world a better place.”

Ms Birbalsingh said the ban was necessary to promote integration between pupils of different ethnic backgrounds and religions.

“If a school is secular, it ought to be allowed to be secular,” she said.

Ms Birbalsingh told the paper the school would "definitely appeal" if it lost, adding: “I will not divide children according to race and religion; it will not happen under my watch.”

The pupil, who cannot be named for legal reasons, alleges the school’s stance on prayer was “the kind of discrimination which makes religious minorities feel alienated from society”, a judge was told.

Her lawyers said she is making a “modest” request to be allowed to pray for around five minutes at lunch time, on dates when faith rules required it, but not during lessons.

Reporting by PA