A primary school in London is being sued by Muslim parents after banning pupils from wearing the traditional Islamic headscarf in lessons. This is from the Telegraph…
St Cyprian’s Greek Orthodox primary in south London faces being hauled before the High Court amid claims that its uniform policy breaches children’s religious freedom.
The couple insisted it would be a sin for their nine-year-old daughter’s head to be uncovered while in the presence of male teachers.
The move represents the latest in a series of legal challenges against school uniform rules on religious and racial grounds.
In a landmark case six years ago, a Muslim schoolgirl – Shabina Begum – successfully challenged a decision by a Luton secondary school to refuse to allow her to wear a traditional gown, although the judgement was later overturned by the Court of Appeal
Last year, a north London school was also found to have broken antidiscrimination legislation when it turned away a pupil for wearing cornrow braids in his hair.
Current Government guidance on uniforms says that schools should “act reasonably” in accommodating various beliefs relating to clothes, hair and religious artefacts.
But it says heads should have the ultimate power to restrict the “freedom of pupils to manifest their religion” if it is justified on health and safety grounds or to protect other children.
In the latest case, parents are believed to have enrolled their daughter at the Greek Orthodox primary in Thornton Heath two years ago after pulling her out of a private school.
The couple – who have not been named – appealed to governors when the girl was prevented from wearing the traditional Muslim hijab in class.
But they withdrew the child and launched a legal challenge with the High Court when the school refused to reverse the ban.
Kate Magliocco, the head, said the girl’s parents believed that “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,” she added.
“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.”
The uniform policy on the school’s website requires girls to wear a dark blue coat, an optional blazer, a skirt, white blouse and a navy blue pullover – but fails to mention a ban on headscarves.