Some Islamic schools in England still segregating children

The Guardian reports that at least 10 Islamic schools in England are still segregating boys and girls in co-educational schools, while others are likely to be separating the genders for certain activities, despite a recent court ruling outlawing the practice.

Details emerged in an appeal court judgment on Tuesday, which turned down an attempt by the Association of Muslim Schools (AMS) to join a legal action to seek leave to appeal to the supreme court for a review of the segregation ruling.

The request followed a judgment last month when three court of appeal judges found that Al-Hijrah Islamic school in Birmingham had caused unlawful discrimination by formally segregating girls and boys from the age of nine.

The AMS, which represents 133 Muslim faith schools including Al-Hijrah, said 10 of its members and probably other non-members still had formal segregation policies in place, while other schools segregated children for particular activities. Other faith schools were also likely to be implicated, it said.

The written judgment said the AMS chairman, Ashfaque Alichowdhury, told the court the association’s role was to ensure member schools complied with their legal obligations and acted in a way that was consistent with Islamic teachings and practices.

The AMS also said the ruling had created uncertainty over future Ofsted inspections at affected schools, and complained of a lack of guidance from Ofsted or the Department for Education over segregation.

An Ofsted spokesperson said on Tuesday that any school potentially affected by the judgment could seek legal advice if required. 

“In each case, the school’s individual circumstances would need to be assessed. And the DfE, as the registration body for schools, will support it to make any necessary changes.”

Read more Some Islamic schools in England still segregating children

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