Gender segregation may be unlawful ‘sex discrimination’
Co-educational schools which segregate girls and boys may fall foul of sex discrimination laws, according to DfE advice issued today. Kate Richards, ISI’s Chief Inspector said:
“ISI inspections will continue to promote the welfare of pupils in independent schools, challenging sex discrimination as it impacts on the quality of their education and well-being.”
The government advice released today arises from Court of Appeal judgement in the case of Ofsted v Al Hijrah in 2017. Co-educational schools should read it carefully and, if in doubt, contact their legal advisors or Association to discuss the implications for their own arrangements.
ISI will be inspecting this issue from September 2018, looking at the impact of any gender segregation in co-educational schools on the quality of education. Gender segregation in single sex schools and for the purpose of competitive sport or to address disadvantage is lawful under the Equality Act 2010. In all other cases, inspectors will consider factors such as the educational impact of any gender segregation on the social development of pupils, their preparation for adult life, the availability to them of meaningful choice, and their access to academic options and co-curricular activities. Schools should consider not only classroom teaching but the hidden lessons children take away from gender stereo-typing or differential treatment at school, or from the school culture, about their role in society, their value as a person and their expectations for the future.
Further information will be provided through ISI’s usual circulars and the ISI Commentary on the Regulatory Requirements. There will be full training for inspectors in readiness for the Autumn term.
Co-educational schools which wish to amend their registration arrangements should contact the DfE.