The Independent reports that the Department for Education has said religious schools that separate boys and girls into different classes can split in two to avoid a new law banning gender segregation. It comes after a landmark ruling by the Court of Appeal last month found a mixed-gender Islamic school guilty of sex discrimination because it did not allow girls and boys to attend the same lessons.
After the judgment, headteachers across the country asked the Government for urgent clarification on the issue.
The Independent has obtained a letter from the head of Hasmonean High School, a Jewish Orthodox school in Barnet, saying the DfE told the school it faced no further action if it “de-amalgamates”, or splits in two.
“I have now heard from the Department for Education regarding the outcome of the specific implications for Hasmonean of the recent judgment regarding the segregation of the sexes in coeducational schools,” Andrew McClusky said in a letter to parents.
“The DfE will require Hasmonean to de-amalgamate into two separate schools but there will be no further implications for the school other than this.”
Critics complained allowing segregated schools to simply divide without assessment of their treatment of different genders risked breaching equality laws. Ofsted, meanwhile, has said the Court of Appeal judgment on sex discrimination only applied to co-educational schools.
Humanists UK education campaigns manager Jay Harman said: “Single-sex schools are not inherently problematic. But if becoming a single-sex school effectively puts an end to any scrutiny over the nature of the education that girls in these religious communities are getting [compared to] boys, it could very well mean that the girls end up in a worse situation as a result of the judgment, rather than a better one,” he added.
Read the full article Government allows faith school to split in two to avoid gender segregation law
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