Primary schools allowing hundreds of girls as young as five 'to wear hijabs as part of uniform'

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Schools in the UK are allowing girls as young as five to wear religious headscarves as part of their uniform policies.

According to The Sunday Times, thousands of state primary schools across the country are listing the Muslim garments hijabs as items of uniform.

The growing trend has been criticised by some campaigners who pointed out the headscarf is supposed to be worn by a girl when she reaches puberty – not a child.

But others have disagreed and said that it is a matter of religion and has nothing to do with sexualisation.

In a survey conducted by The Sunday Times, a fifth of 800 primary schools surveyed were found to list a hijab as part of their uniform policy. 

Thirty-four per cent of primary schools in Tower Hamlets listed a headscarf on their website, and in Luton the figure was 36 per cent.

But in other regions with a high Muslim population, it was less common. In Leicester, for example, only 6 per cent of schools included the hijab.

Muslim politician Amina Lone told the newspaper: “In an Islamic context, the hijab is commonly understood as being for females after they reach the age of puberty. There are very few Muslims who would say a child should be covered.”

And Gina Khan, a children’s rights campaigner, said schools are listing the garment as uniform “because they are afraid of being called Islamophobic and they have been told that this is a religious garment”.

“But they need to support Muslim girls to have free choices, not to be set apart from other children,” she said.

Toby Howarth, the Bishop of Bradford, said, however, that girls often wanted to “look like their mums” and this should be allowed.

“The British policy is not to make too big a deal of it, but simply to say you have to wear the right colour,” he said. “This is a matter of religious identity not sexualisation.”

Ofsted reportedly said there was “growing concern” about the trend and a source said the watchdog is investigating whether schools has been pressured into adding the item to their uniform list.

The Department for Education said uniform policies were for schools to decide, adding: “If a school decided to allow a pupil to wear a burqa, that would be up to the school.”

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