Parents sue school after girl, nine, is banned from wearing hijab

A Muslim couple are taking a south London primary school to the High Court after their daughter was banned from wearing a headscarf.

The parents were so annoyed when the nine-year-old girl was prevented from wearing the traditional Muslim hijab they withdrew her.

After failing to gain the support of the school governors, they have launched a legal action to reverse the ban.

The parents say it would be a sin for their daughter’s head to be uncovered while in the presence of male teachers.

The child’s brother remains a pupil at the school. But Kate Magliocco, head of St Cyprian’s Greek Orthodox Primary School in Thornton Heath, said the parents were informed about their uniform policy when their child was first admitted at seven.

She said: “The school is being taken to the High Court by parents of a Muslim girl. They believe that, because she is nine, she has reached puberty and it would be a sin for her not to be covered because the school has male teachers. The decision not to allow her to wear a headscarf was taken by the governing body.

“The school has a very particular uniform policy, which is shared with parents and, as head, I must follow the plan. The pupil in question came to us from a private school.

"Her parents actively chose us and, before she arrived, we held a meeting which included details of the uniform plan.”

She added: “They are a really nice family and it is a regrettable situation for both sides.”

Admission details on the school’s website begin with the promise: “The children of St Cyprian’s will be equipped with the knowledge, skills and spirituality to enable them to achieve their full potential and to prepare them to contribute positively to the challenges of a diverse multi-cultural society.” It adds that the school will “respect the religious beliefs and practice of all staff, pupils and parents.”

Its mission statement says it promotes “good relations between people of different ethnic origins”.

The uniform policy on the school website requires girls to wear a dark blue coat, an optional blazer, a skirt, white blouse and a navy blue pullover, but it does not mention a ban on headscarves. A court hearing is due to take place next month.