Islamic Faith School’s Gender Segregation Ruled Unlawful

By Benjamin Lowrie, Digital Producer 13 Oct 2017

An Islamic faith school which has a policy of separating girls and boys has been told the rules are unlawful.

Al-Hijrah school, based in Birmingham, also made pupils use different corridors to avoid contact in breaks, as well as separating students on school trips and at after school clubs.

In a hearing at The Court of Appeal today, judges ruled policy was unlawful discrimination, overturning a previous High Court decision.

However, while the school was found to be breaching the Equality Act 2010, the court did not agree that girls were at more of a disadvantage than boys. They also threw out claims there was a loss of opportunity to mix and socialise with the opposite sex due to a lack of evidence.

A Knock On Effect for Other Schools

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Both girls and boys between four and 16 attend the school in Bordesley Green and while they mix in the early years, they are completely separated from Year 5 onwards.

The case was brought after Ofsted, the watchdog for school standards, rated the school as inadequate, stating the separation of pupils as the reason.

Judges added in the ruling that Ofsted has made it clear that is the appeal succeeded: “It will apply a consistent approach to all similarly organised schools.”

There are believed to be around 20 schools across the country operating similar policies, including Christian, Jewish and Islam schools.

And What’s The Reaction To The Ruling Been?

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Speaking after the Court of Appeal, Ofsted Head, the policy was “discrimination and is wrong”.

“It places these boys and girls at a disadvantage for life beyond the classroom and the workplace, and fails to prepare them for life in modern Britain,” she added.

It places these boys and girls at a disadvantage for life beyond the classroom

Shadow Cabinet Member for Education in Birmingham, Matt Bennett, said: “It is now clear that practices breaching the Equality Act 2010 have been allowed to continue at this school, and others across the country, Action is now required at a local and national level.”

Southall Black Sisters, who protested outside the court, added: “This judgment is a vital step forward in our effort to persuade the courts and state bodies to take account of the reality of the misogyny and gender stereotyping that is promoted in our schools and universities in the name of religious and cultural freedom.

Featured Image: Southall Black Sisters