CHILDREN should not be “forced” to wear the hijab as part of their school uniform, Bradford Council for Mosques has said after a report stated that the policy was being adopted in more than two in five Islamic schools.

The National Secular Society (NSS) found that girls in dozens of schools in England were being made to wear the garment, including two in Bradford, Feversham College in Undercliffe and Olive Secondary in Barkerend.

Both schools state on their websites that girls should wear the hijab or a headscarf as part of their official uniform policy.

NSS research found that out of 142 Islamic schools that accepted girls, 59, or 42 per cent, had uniform policies that suggested a headscarf or another form of hijab was compulsory. This included eight state-funded schools and 27 primary schools, three of which are state-funded.

Eighteen schools, 13 of which are state-funded, state in their online uniform policy that the hijab is optional.

The website for Feversham College, an academy specialising in science for Muslim girls aged 11 to18, states: “It is very important that the uniform is loose fitting and modest and that the hijaab is fitted closely to the head. The College uniform is COMPULSORY.”

The uniform policy at the independent Olive Secondary states: “Hair should be covered by a black scarf; outside the School the face must be covered.”

Ishtiaq Ahmed, spokesman for the Council for Mosques, said: “We have to accept that Britain, and a city like Bradford, is a multi-faith society, and faith is an important part of people’s identity. It is about tolerance and respect, and making efforts to understand people’s different way of life. People should have choices without the fear of being criticised.

“What is most important is communication between schools and parents. No child should be forced to do anything, any element of force or coercion should be avoided.”

The NSS has written to the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, calling for the Government to ensure girls from Muslim backgrounds are supported to have free choices, rather than having so-called modesty codes imposed on them.

Human rights activist Sara Khan, who grew up in Bradford and is a director of counter-extremism and women’s rights organisation Inspire, is a co-signatory of the letter.

She said it was “deeply concerning” that young girls were being directed to cover up through a uniform policy.

“They say it is to respect religious sensitivities, but there is no requirement in religion for young girls to be wearing a head scarf,” she said.

She added of Olive Secondary’s rules: “It’s outrageous that they are asking girls to cover their faces in Britain in 2017.”

Neither school responded to requests for a comment.