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Ofsted downgrades Jewish school for unlawfully segregating girls

Ofsted has downgraded a state-funded Jewish school for unlawfully segregating girls. The King David High School in Manchester was given a rating of ‘inadequate’ by the schools inspectorate. It did so  after inspectors found that female pupils attending the school’s single sex unit were being discriminated against. The school’s safeguarding arrangements were also described as ‘chaotic’. Pupils said ‘they are reluctant to report concerns due to the way that some staff might react.’ Humanists UK complained about the same issues at the school all the way back in 2015. Today it has welcomed the finding.

King David is a mixed school. However, it also has two single sex units, Yavneh Boys and Yavneh Girls, which provide a ‘modern orthodox’ Jewish education to subsets of pupils. Inspectors found that pupils at Yavneh Boys were allowed to mix socially with pupils from the main school (both male and female). But the girls were not. Pupils at Yavneh Boys also have better access to extracurricular activities. These included table tennis, a debating society, and film club. Yavneh Girls reportedly told inspectors that they feel ‘isolated’. Ofsted says the differential treatment consititutes unlawful sex discrimination contrary to the Equality Act 2010.

In 2015, Humanists UK challenged King David’s discriminatory admissions policy. The challenge was to the sex discrimination that happened as a consequence of the internal segregation. It was upheld by the Office of the Schools Adjudicator, which is responsible for enforcing admissions rules. After that decision, Humanists UK referred the school on to Ofsted. In 2019, the inspectorate criticised King David for segregation and for teaching girls a narrower range of GCSE subjects than boys. However, the report was subsequently quashed after the school threatened to judicially review its findings.

In 2017 the High Court ruled that segregation by sex in co-educational schools is unlawful. King David is one of many religious schools that have since been censured for the practice. Some of these have since become separate single sex schools so that they can continue to keep boys and girls apart and offer them different curriculums.

Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Robert Cann commented:

‘It is shameful that a state-funded school has been discriminating against girls in this way. Worse still is that it has been able to get away with it for so long.

‘All pupils should have equal opportunities to socialise with peers and participate in activities. But for far too many pupils in religious schools this is simply not the case. Ofsted and the Department for Education must now do all they can to make sure that no child is ever subject to sexist discrimination at school.’

Notes:

For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at press@humanists.uk or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.

Read the Ofsted report.

Read our most recent article on the DfE allowing a faith school that unlawfully segregated boys and girls to split into a single sex school.

Read our previous article on King David High School segregating boys and girls.

Read more about our work on faith schools.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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