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Two years on from Court ruling, girls still being made to eat after boys at state Muslim school

Courts previously ruled that segregating by gender was unlawful.

Girls are being made to eat lunch after boys at a state-funded Muslim school in Birmingham, despite a Court of Appeal ruling in 2017 that found segregation of boys and girls at the school is unlawful.

An Ofsted director has told MPs that the alarming case of gender segregation is still happening at the Al-Hijrah School, as he called on Government ministers to back Ofsted by taking enforcement measures against such schools. While Ofsted inspectors often highlight cases of gender segregation in their reports, the Department for Education (DfE) is responsible for enforcement, including deciding whether schools should be closed or have their leadership changed.

Humanists UK, which has raised concerns about gender segregation and discrimination against girls in several schools, including the Al-Hijrah School, has urged the DfE to intervene to ensure the wellbeing of students.

The Ofsted director said the Al-Hijrah School is enforcing ‘very strict gender segregation’ which included ‘denying the girls to have their lunch until the boys had had theirs’ and added, ‘we had some very discriminatory texts for instance, encouraging violence against women.’ He also explained that similar problems exist at other schools.

After the 2017 court ruling, the DfE released guidance for mixed-sex schools stating they must not segregate children on the basis of the child’s gender, race, or religion or belief, but it is clear that this is not being complied with.

Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Ruth Wareham said: ‘Two years ago, the Court of Appeal found it is unlawful for mixed-sex schools to segregate boys and girls, so it is extremely alarming to hear that two years later, this is still occurring. Schools, regardless of their religious character, must not be allowed to foster a culture of prejudice that essentially prioritises the welfare of boys over girls and enforces damaging gender stereotypes.

‘We urge the Department for Education to intervene and take immediate action to ensure the welfare of all students at the Al-Hijrah School. The DfE must also take a strong stand on gender segregation and commit to stamping out this practice in any school which is caught doing so.’

NOTES:

For more information contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at casey@humanism.org.uk or 07 3933 44293.

Read our previous news item on the Court ruling here: https://humanism.org.uk/2017/10/13/comment-faith-school-gender-segregation-unlawful-court-rules/

Read more about our work on gender segregation in schools here: https://humanism.org.uk/2017/12/01/humanists-uk-asks-ofsted-to-take-strong-stance-on-faith-schools-with-a-sexist-ethos/

Read more about our education campaigns work here: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

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