Birmingham’s Al-Hijrah Islamic school ‘still stops girls from eating lunch until boys have finished’
Girls at an Islamic faith school have to wait for boys to finish their lunch until they can have theirs, a Parliamentary committee has heard. The school received a letter from Ofsted in October stating that it was operating an "unlawful discriminatory policy” among secondary students.
A Birmingham Islamic school is STILL NOT allowing girls to eat their lunch until boys have finished, an Ofsted boss has told MPs.
Al-Hijrah , in Bordseley Green, has been told in strong terms that its continued practice of segregating older boys and girls on faith grounds is against the law.
The school received a letter from Ofsted in October stating that it was operating an “unlawful discriminatory policy” among secondary students. It was ordered to stop the unlawful practice by the Court of Appeal in 2017.
But Luke Tryl, director of corporate strategy at Ofsted, told MPs the school is still enforcing “very strict gender segregation” which is “denying the girls to have their lunch until the boys have had theirs”.
He said: “The Court of Appeal rightly said that schools needed a transition period where they were segregating and yet still we have not just Al-Hijrah but we have countless other schools, mixed schools which are segregating on the basis of sex.
“This is where I talk about the isolation. We go out there. We make these tough decisions and we often take quite a lot of criticism for the stance we take but we don’t always see the enforcement action we would like to see.”
He added: “Our inspectors are going out and having to make some quite tricky judgements where there are those potential clashes between laws and religious freedoms.
“Similarly other schools who have refused to teach about sexual orientation issues. We have commented on reports but we haven’t seen a change there.
“We perhaps don’t always feel we get the support we need from the rest of Government in pushing that forward.”
Ofsted rated the school as inadequate in 2016. Since then things have not changed.
Court of Appeal judges ruled a year ago that city council-funded Al-Hijrah , which is in special measures, was discriminating against its pupils contrary to the Equality Act 2010.
In the letter, sent on October 3, Ofsted said: “We noted that the school continues to operate an unlawful discriminatory policy of strict segregation by sex in the secondary phase. Plans for the school’s future and current practice take some account of the need to address this practice.
“However, having considered all the evidence I am of the opinion that at this time: Leaders and managers are not taking effective action towards the removal of special measures.”