A Muslim family is to sue a Greek Orthodox School in Croydon after it refused to allow their nine-year-old daughter to wear a headscarf - arguing that she had now reached puberty.

St Cyprian's Greek Orthodox Primary Academy, in Thornton Heath, ruled that the girl could not wear the headscarf at school, and her parents have removed her from the school.

They have applied to the High Court to rule that their daughter must be allow to wear the hijab, because they wish her to return to the school, which her brother still attends.

hijab

A girl wearing a traditional headscarf


The school told Croydon Today that her parents believe it would be a sin for her head to be uncovered because she has reached puberty and is in the presence of male teachers.

Head teacher Kate Magliocco told Croydon Today that the school had discussed the uniform policy with the girl when she arrived aged seven. She is now in Year 5.

Mrs Magliocco said: "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.

"We are the only Greek Orthodox Primary School in the whole country. The parents actively sought our school. They must have done so with their eyes open."

The school, which has children between the ages of four and 11, was top of Croydon's league tables for primary schools. Around 60% of its pupils are Greek, according to an inspection from 2010, 10% are White British, and the remainder are ethnic minorities.

The head of the school described the girl's parents as a "really nice family and it's a regrettable situation for both sides."

The school's uniform policy, which specifies a white shirt, navy pullover, skirt and blue coat for girls, makes no mention of headscarfs.

The school's diversity policy says: "We respect the religious beliefs and practice of all staff, pupils and parents.


"However, as this school is a faith school, the staff, governors, parents and pupils have chosen this school for a specific faith based reason.

"In line with the principles laid out in this policy, the school respects the religious observance of the faiths of others."

It adds: "We recognise and celebrate the fact that a significant percentage of our children are from ethnic minority groups".

The Evening Standard reported that the case would be heard next month.