Ofsted battles to prevent gender segregation in faith schools

July 21, 2017

In the Court of Appeal last week, Ofsted challenged aspects of a Judicial Review which found against rulings by its inspectors that gender discrimination in a mixed sex faith school was discriminatory and illegal. The Judicial Review was heard in the High Court in November and pursued by the school in question, Al-Hijrah School, an all-through voluntary-aided school in Birmingham.

In its November ruling, the High Court rejected gender segregation as constituting discrimination, due to a lack of evidence that the practice disadvantages pupils by their gender. The school segregates pupils by gender throughout the school day.

Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain said ‘We welcome Ofsted’s challenge because Al-Hijrah School is employing gender segregation in an environment that is supposed to be non-gender segregated. This is a school that is letting faith principles over-ride its terms of reference as a mixed-gender school.’

The Accord Coalition has criticised Ofsted for previously issuing guidance to inspectors that they should not consider gender segregation in faith schools ‘… as a sign of inequality between different genders.’ The guidance was eventually removed in 2014. The Court of Appeals judgement is expected soon.

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