London: A secondary school in north-west England has become the first in the UK to offer hijabs or headscarves worn by Muslims as part of the uniform for pupils.
Sir John Thursby Community College in Burnley, Lancashire, reacted to concerns that some hijabs were being worn incorrectly by introducing a uniform version.
However, the move has come under fire from some Muslim parents and pupils, who feel the uniform hijabs are uncomfortable and not modest enough.
They have launched an online petition, signed by 150 people, protesting against the lack of consultation over the new uniformed hijab.
"Unfortunately, there was very little consultation by parents or the girls attending the school. Consequently, a scarf designed by the school has been created. It is very tight and in some cases too short as some of the girls have long hair and so it defeats the object to wear it," the petition reads.
It also questions the "real agenda" behind the move and if it is to "put girls off" wearing a headscarf.
Headmaster David Burton has written to parents to defend the policy and dismiss suggestions that the school is against headscarves as untrue.
"We are sorry that there have been suggestions that the school is against headscarves. This is not true. We respect fully the wishes of girls to wear a headscarf and we always have done," he said.
"Students, staff and parents had expressed some concerns that some students were not wearing headscarves correctly although the rules had not changed on headscarves," Burton said.
"We looked towards changing the uniform policy to include a uniform headscarf as we were aware that a change is needed to be considered. We started a consultation process in September and we are still collecting the views of parents.
Once we have collected these views we will be discussing them with governors," he added.
Before the new policy, schoolgirls wanting to wear a headscarf were permitted to choose their own style as long as it was black. The same rule applies at other secondary schools in the Lancashire area, which has a significant Muslim population.