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Blackburn schoolgirls rebel against headscarf policy
12:00pm Saturday 13th October 2012 in Blackburn
MUSLIM schoolgirls have rebelled against a school’s attempts to bring in a headscarf policy following students sporting ‘very, very big hijabs, posing a real health and safety risk’.
Pleckgate High School, Blackburn, is now working with a group of year 11 girls to design its third version of the headscarf, after many refused to wear the previous suggested models.
Girls complained the first version, introduced 12 months ago, fitted uncomfortably on their heads, leading the school’s governers to request a redesign.
However the second model has been described by students as ‘nun-like’, and was also met with complaints.
Student, Mariyah Mahmud, 15, said: “It is really short and shows the back of our necks and many of us believe it’s not right, immodest, and against our Islamic principles.
“I was told off a few times for refusing to wear it, but I’ve worn the school one for a few weeks now and you just get used to it, I suppose.”
She added: “I think it’s about time they asked our opinions, it’s the only way to get the girls to wear the scarf.”
Another student, who asked not to be named, said she was a senior prefect and was demoted for not wearing the scarf, despite the fact it did not fit her.
A handful of other prefects were also temporarily stripped of their responsibilities, the standard response to pupils wearing inappropriate uniform.
Anjum Anwar, dialogue development officer at Exchange, said: “There are many children in Blackburn wearing headscarves without any health and safety issues.
“It’s always better to have a conversation about uniform with others who have already done it, with an Islamic school about what sort of a headscarf is suitable for young girls.”
The Department for Education states that schools are expected to act reasonably in accommodating the needs of different religions and encourages schools, parents and pupils to work together to resolve any issues locally.
Cherry Ridgway, headteacher at the school, said: “We found some of the girl’s headscarves were getting very, very big and were posing a real health and safety risk, as in incidents of hijabs hanging over bunsen burners in science and this made us take the step of bringing in a uniform one.
“A small handful of girls complained, saying it was uncomfortable and refused to wear it and they have been allowed to continue wearing their own.
“We listened to the girls’ complaints and corrected the issues on the second design, but a few girls still weren’t happy with it.
“We now have a group of girls working with the deputy head to come up with a design they will be happy with.
“But some girls want to wear them in all colours and with various sparkly things on them, which doesn’t seem to be about modesty, but about something else.”