Court Upholds Manchester Jewish School’s ‘Outstanding’ Status, Quashes Inspector’s Downgrade

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A Jewish high school in Manchester, England has won a legal battle against a performance evaluation which downgraded the school from ‘outstanding’ to ‘inadequate’ due to issues of gender equality and secular studies.

The King David High School Manchester, which numbers some 850 pupils, succeeded in quashing the decision by the British Office for Standards in Education, known as Ofsted, to downgrade the school from outstanding to inadequate.

Inspectors were unhappy at the separation of girls and boys in the Yavneh streams of the school, which cater to the more religious students, claiming that it constituted ‘unlawful segregation’ of pupils ‘on the grounds of faith and belief and sex’, which the inspectors said was in breach of the Equality Act.

Additionally the inspectors decried the reduced amount of time being given to some secular subjects in the Yavneh streams as compared with the main campus.

The school turned to the courts to overturn the shock verdict, arguing that the inspection service had got the law wrong.

Ofsted said on Friday, “We have taken the very unusual step of giving consent to the quashing of the most recent inspection report on King David’s High School in Manchester, which was published in June 2019.

“We have agreed with the school that, given the school’s particular arrangements, it was not open to us to conclude that there was unlawful direct discrimination on grounds of either sex or religion and belief, when comparing a pupil in either of the single-sex streams with a pupil in the main stream.

“Quashing the report will allow us to re-inspect the school at an appropriate time, looking again at how it manages the separation of pupils by sex and assessing the education it provides against our new inspection framework.”

The school’s outstanding status has now been reinstated pending a fresh inspection. The school is one of the best scholastic performers in England, according to Ofsted’s own statistics.

Ofsted has been ordered to pay the school’s reasonable costs,in applying for the judicial review, which the school’s chairman said could be around £80,000.

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