JFS boy must be 'reconsidered'

JFS has been told it must reconsider admitting the boy at the centre of the recent court case.

The Court of Appeal ordered the school to think again about offering a place to the boy, known as M, who was originally refused entry two years because his mother was a non-Orthodox convert.

Two weeks ago the court ruled that the school’s entry policy as unlawful, because allowing entry on the basis of whether a parent is Jewish contravenes the Race Relations Act.

The court has also refused JFS leave to appeal to the House of Lords – which means the school must now go to the Lords to request an appeal.

The judges said that JFS must pay half the boy’s legal costs, the United Synagogue 20 per cent with the rest coming from the Secretary of State for Schools, Children and Families and the Office of Schools Adjudicator.

John Halford, of Bindmans, the solicitors that represented the boy’s case, said

“The Court has given a short, commonsense judgment today accompanying an Order requiring JFS to give urgent consideration to admitting the child at the centre of this case in September.

"If it does, he will have missed two years of the Jewish education he seeks, but the school will at least have shown itself to be honourable enough not to put its concerns about the effects of the judgement over the interests of a vulnerable child.

"The school can still decide to seek permission to appeal from the House of Lords. But as the Court of Appeal has pointed out today when refusing permission itself, there is in fact nothing radical in the way the law was applied in this case.

"Nor is it at all right to say that the judgement labels Orthodox Judaism ‘racist’. The Court has simply said that a law which protects all Jewish children against descent-based discrimination in the state education sector applies equally to Jewish schools.

"Those schools can lawfully prioritise places for children who come from families who practice Orthodox Judaism and the majority in fact have admissions policies which do so. Alternatively, those schools can lawfully prioritise applications from families who genuinely seek a Jewish education for their children.

"The judgment does not impact at all on synagogues, nor on Jewish welfare organisations: special arrangements are made for both by the law.

"Given all of this, it would be a shame if the school does take the case further. It risks undermining the protection anti-discrimination law gives Jews in all aspects of their lives simply to deny a handful children from Jewish families not recognised as such by the Chief Rabbi the opportunity to attend JFS each year.”

Last updated: 2:40pm, July 14 2009