Page 7 - Independent Schools Magazine
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Discrimination ~ the Court of Appeal ruling & its implications
The court of appeal ruled
last month (October) that a co-educational faith school
in Birmingham had caused unlawful discrimination by strictly segregating male and female pupils from the age of nine, teaching them in different classrooms and making them use separate corridors and play areas. The segregation policy was also applied to clubs and school trips.
The court overturned a previous ruling by the high court last year involving the Al-Hijrah school.
Ofsted argued that the school had breached the 2010 Equalities Act. (Single-sex schools are
given a speci c exemption from discrimination claims related to admissions under the Equalities Act).
OFSTED chief inspector
Amanda Spielman said after
the hearing:”Ofsted’s job is
to make sure that all schools properly prepare children for life
QIn a diamond-structure independent school boys and girls will be taught separately for some subjects at some ages. Whilst this is wholly different from the total segregation which was the subject of the Al-Hijrah case, what steps do you take to ensure that equal opportunities prevail throughout?
AFirst and foremost
we ensure that the curriculum offer
to boys and girls is exactly
the same – the last anomaly (whereby girls in Year 8 had fewer PE lessons than did the boys) was eliminated over a decade ago. Further, most of our staff teach in both the boys’ and girls’ schools, thereby ensuring comparability in delivery as well
in modern Britain. Educational institutions should never treat pupils less favourably because of their sex, or for any other reason. The [Al Hijrah] School is teaching boys and girls entirely separately, making them walk down separate corridors, and keeping them apart at all times. This is 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”
Does the case, and these subsequent comments, have any implications for independent schools which favour the ‘diamond-structure’ where girls and boys are taught together in early years and sixth form but separately for some subjects in the early teens?
Dr John Hind, Principal of the diamond-structure Dame Allan’s Schools, Newcastle Upon Tyne, provides the answers to some essential questions:
as content of lessons. We also ensure that extra-curricular opportunities are equally available to boys and girls – again, the quirk of history which saw the Duke of Edinburgh Award offered to members of the girls’ school only was ironed out over a decade ago.
Dr John Hind
sector average for ‘orthodox’ coeducational independent schools. Conversely, if one still presumes that food studies might be a ‘girls’ subject’
(and I recognise that my own twentieth century schooling may be in uencing my thinking here!) then the fact that boys make up 80% of our current GCSE group runs counter to the stereotype.
been looking at such matters in any case and the way in which we operate means that we should not need to provide huge amounts of extra evidence to support the bene ts provided by our model. Equally, if there
is a sense that either gender is disadvantaged by separate sex provision within an otherwise coeducational model, then surely the same questions ought to be asked of single sex schools (which clearly separate their pupils on gender lines) and,
for that matter, of ‘orthodox’ coeducational schools, where all sorts of gender bias might be hidden in provision which apparently meets all the requirements of the Equal Opportunities Act.
Far from reinforcing gender stereotypes,
diamond-structure enthusiasts suggest the model
actually weakens them. Have you any examples of this from your own school?
Do you anticipate that the Court of Appeal
in the fact that the percentage of girls studying A Level Physics at Dame Allan’s is above the
at inspection time, to prove that the Equalities Act is being adhered to?
I think the most obvious and telling example would lie
 nding will generate a requirement for extra work
I would hope not.
A good inspection team may well have
Independent Schools Magazine 7

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