A Liberal Democrat pledge to introduce gender-neutral clothing could pose problems for Jewish schools, the Jewish Leadership Council’s schools network, Pajes, has warned.
The Lib Dem manifesto says the party would require schools to have gender-neutral uniform policies - but does not say if religious schools would be exempt.
Pajes says this could “seriously challenge faith schools, even those that are single-sex”, in a briefing on the education policies of the three main parties in England.
Orthodox schools generally stipulate dresses and skirts for girls and trousers for boys.
The more Orthodox the school, the more detailed its uniform code is likely to be.
At JFS, girls’ skirts “must cover the knee”, while boys’ trousers must be plain style and not baggy.
Another difference is that boys are required to wear a kippah.
The policy at the school is only gender-neutral to the extent that neither boys nor girls are allowed to wear boots.
As for Labour, Pajes expresses “serious concerns” about the potential impact of a plan to produce a “common rulebook” for all schools. The proposal, which was “quite vague”, did not detail what changes might be intended.
Pajes also queries whether Labour would be able to fund its educational pledges, including a projected five per cent increase in pupils in the state sector following the removal of tax relief from private schools.
While the Conservatives promise to open more free schools, Pajes says the 50 per cent cap on selecting pupils by faith would “almost certainly remain in place”.
In the last election, the Tories said they would lift the restriction - but the government backtracked, instead offering more voluntary-aided schools where faith groups have full control over admissions.
Pajes says it would expect a Conservative government to offer another round of applications for voluntary-aided faith schools.