Ofsted warns private school against gender segregation

Al-Furquaan prep has ceased its segregation of boys and girls, after a warning from Ofsted earlier in the year, according to Examiner Live

An Islamic private school, which was told by Ofsted that it must stop segregating female and male pupils, has stated that the practice has indeed been stopped.

In 2017, the Court of Appeal ruled that strict segregation by sex in schools is a direct discrimination contrary to the Equality Act 2010 – therefore it is against the law to split students up based on sex.

Al-Furquaan Preparatory School in Dewsbury, which is not registered as having a religious character but follows an Islamic ethos, was well aware that separating genders was unlawful before its inspection in June, according to the watchdog. Ofsted rated the school at ‘requires improvement’ level, due in part to the fact that boys and girls being educated separately created discrimination.

The school informed parents earlier in the year that the practice of segregation based on gender would no longer happen as of September.

On the subject of gender segregation, Ofsted said: “School leaders are currently continuing the discriminatory practice of segregating boys and girls for English and mathematics in years 5 and 6.

“School leaders, governors and the proprietor were aware that this practice is unlawful before the start of the inspection.

“Leaders are beginning to take action to stop this practice. For example, pupils are no longer segregated in the afternoons.”

Ofsted did say, however, that pupil behaviour was “often exemplary”, although attendance was lower than it should be.

Ofsted said that, until recently, pupils were segregated by sex for all lessons but not at other times of the school day.

The watchdog said such segregation “causes detriment to pupils as they are denied the opportunity to be educated alongside others of the opposite sex.”

Ofsted is intending to write to the Education Secretary to suggest he commission a further inspection of Al-Furqueen after September, now that the rules have been changed.

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A spokesman for Al-Furqaan Prep School said that it no longer practiced segregation. In a statement, the school said:

“Al-Furqaan Prep School in Dewsbury has been serving the community for more than 20 years. Our curriculum and ethos is based on promoting British values and equality.

“We do not practice segregation and all pupils are allowed equal opportunities to participate in all lessons, assemblies and extra-curricular activities together.

“Any lessons provided to individual groups are for the development and enhancement of positive outcomes for pupils and not on the basis of discriminating or gender biases.”

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