Family & Education

Complaint against Menorah High entry policy partly upheld

Admissions regulator says asking men to do 'daily Torah study' not clear enough and women to avoid 'very brightly coloured' clothes not 'objective'


A popular state-aided Charedi girls’ school has been told it must revise its entry rules by the admissions regulator for the second time in three years.

The Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) partially upheld a complaint against Menorah High School in London that parts of its entry policy did not comply with official requirements to be objective, clear or fair.

The school, which is oversubscribed for the 60 available places each year, has regularly featured in the top 10 English state schools for academic progress for pupils from year 7 to GCSE.

While schools can set standards for entry, these must be set out by a designated religious authority for the school.

But the adjudicator Dr Bryan Slater found that Menorah High did not have a “prescribed faith body” in place when the arrangements were made for entry last year.

He noted that a requirement for “daily Torah study” by fathers did not describe clearly what a parents must do to comply with it; and that a requirement for applicants to demonstrate at least five years of Charedi practice had not been “laid out” in guidance from a prescribed faith body.

Menorah High has now designated its religious authority to be the “office of the Rabbi of the Gateshead Jewish Community”.  

Dr Slater also took issue with one of the conditions to meet standards of tzniut, "modesty", which stated that for girls and their parents, “clothing must not be very brightly coloured.”

He said he did “not consider that the phrase ‘very brightly coloured’… would be understood to mean exactly the same thing by all readers of the arrangements. The phrase is not objective in nature, and it renders the arrangements in breach of the requirement of objectivity”.

It is the second time in recent weeks the OSA has voiced the same view; in January, another Charedi girls school was told that asking parents to avoid “brightly coloured” clothes was too vague.

The OSA did not hold uphold other grounds of complaint against Menorah High, including some relating to arrangements to investigate potentially fraudulent or misleading applications.

The school has been given till the end of March to make changes to its admissions policy.

In 2019, the OSA ruled that it needed to amend some of its requirements to comply with the School Admissions Code.

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