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Three Muslim state schools identified as discriminating when hiring staff on the basis of sex

Last week Madani Boys School in Leicester was at the centre of controversy after it emerged that the school had advertised for a science teacher and an ICT technician while restricting both jobs to males. Now the British Humanist Association (BHA) has discovered that at least two other Muslim state schools, Madani Girls’ School and Feversham College in Bradford, have extensively engaged in similar practices. The BHA has expressed alarm at the findings.

Madani Girls’ School (the sister school of Madani Boys School) has frequently advertised for staff (including Headteacher, Head of Life Skills, Cover Supervisor and Teaching Assistant), while stating that there is a ‘genuine occupational requirement’ that the post holders are female. And Feversham College, a girls’ school in Bradford, has attempted to create an ‘all-female environment’, advertising for ‘enthusiastic females’ as Head of Humanities, Maths Teacher, House Leader, Technology Technician, Teaching Assistant, Attendance Officer, Exams Officer, Typist, Pupil Records Officer and Intervention Support Officer. In fact, of the 127 staff, just two appear to be male. In no case is it claimed that there is a genuine occupational requirement. The advertisement for a female maths teacher is current.

The Equality Act 2010 precludes discrimination in employment on the basis of sex and other grounds, except where a ‘genuine occupational requirement’ (GOR) can be demonstrated. Examples of this in practice would be ‘ministers of religion and a small number of lay posts, including those that exist to promote and represent religion.’ In spite of what the Madani schools claim, it is doubtful that GORs can be demonstrated in this case – and therefore the discrimination is unlawful.

The Department for Education agrees with this assessment: after the case with Madani Boys School came to light last week, a spokesperson said that ‘Schools must comply with equality law. We asked Leicester City Council to raise this with the school and the advert has now been withdrawn.’

BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal commented, ‘It is completely unacceptable that these schools are discriminating against staff on the basis of gender. Such behaviour is a wilful misuse of the genuine occupational requirement provisions and we have written to the Department for Education raising our concerns and asked for this to be brought to a halt as a matter of urgency.’

Notes

For further comment or information contact BHA Head of Public Affairs on 0773 8435059 or at pavan@humanism.org.uk.

Read about last week’s news involving Madani Boys School: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/10666129/Muslim-boys-school-bans-women-from-applying-for-job-as-science-teacher.html

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on ‘faith’ schools: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/religion-and-schools/faith-schools

View the BHA’s table of types of school with a religious character: https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/schools-with-a-religious-character.pdf

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

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