18th October 2017
Daily summary of the latest news and opinions from the world of independent education bought to you by Education Advisers...
Girls could be told to play rugby alongside boys following segregation case
Girls could be told to play rugby alongside boys in the wake of a landmark school segregation ruling, the head of the Independent Schools Association has warned.
The Telegraph reports that Neil Roskilly, chief executive officer of the ISA, has said that co-educational schools where boys and girls are separated for lessons, sports clubs or other activities could come under scrutiny following last week’s Court of Appeal decision that an Islamic faith school in Birmingham was being discriminatory by entirely separating boys and girls.
He said: “It seems to come down to registration. If there are boys’ and girls’ grammar schools on either side of a main road, which are registered separately, that seems to be fine.
“But if they are in the same school and happen to be under the same DfE registration number, that’s where it is a problem.
“The question is going to be asked as to where this might go.
“In an afternoon club, where the children are separated out and the girls go off any play hockey and boys go off and play rugby, there is a concern that that could be seen as discriminatory.”
Last week Amanda Spielman, chief inspector of education at Ofsted, said there were around 20 faith schools in similar situations to Al-Hijrah, the school which judges ruled on last week.
But in a letter published in the Times on Monday, Mr Roskilly said he was concerned that schools which use a “diamond” model, where pupils are separated by gender in different classes at different ages, could be particularly affected.
The letter said: “As well as faith schools that educate boys and girls separately, many state and private schools follow “diamond” models, where separation occurs at particular key stages, often to avoid the “distraction” of the opposite sex.
Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council, said: “It is our understanding that the Court of Appeal’s judgment is concerned with schools which have complete segregation of male and female pupils.
“Diamond schools within membership of ISC generally have mixed break times, lunch times, assemblies, school events etc.
“We would not therefore consider they would be affected by this judgment; however we await guidance from the Department for Education on any implications for the school sector.”
Ofsted boss defends single-sex schools following court ruling
Following Ofsted’s victory in a sex discrimination appeal, chief inspector Amanda Spielman has insisted that single sex education can be justified, Tes reports.
Ofsted’s chief inspector has defended single-sex education, just days after the watchdog won an appeal which found that a school’s segregation of boys from girls amounted to unlawful sex discrimination.
Amanda Spielman has said that schools practicing “rigid gender segregation should now be on notice that they need to change.”
This follows a landmark judgement from the Court of Appeal on Friday which ruled that the mixed-sex Al-Hijrah school in Birmingham – which segregated male and female pupils from the age of nine in lessons, breaks, school clubs and trips – amounted to discrimination.
But the Ofsted boss has argued today that single-sex schools can be justified as they stop girls from “selecting themselves out of some areas of education”.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Ms Spielman argues that single-sex schools can also help encourage girls and boys to choose subjects that they may not normally choose.
She writes: “I have been asked how Ofsted can defend the existence of single-sex schools. The easy answer is that single-sex schools are given a specific exemption in legislation.
“But there is a more fundamental point, which is the purpose of the segregation in question.
“If women are to take their full place in a world which is, to some degree, loaded against them, then it is reasonable for parents to choose single-sex schools, to stop girls from selecting themselves out of some areas of education.
“That is why most single-sex girls’ schools emphasise tackling gender stereotypes, and push girls to pursue their interests in ‘typically male subjects’.”
She adds that there is evidence suggesting that educating boys together can reduce the pressure towards gender stereotyping, allowing them to pursue their interests in arts and drama.
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