Family & Education

Menorah Primary considers split into boys' and girls' schools

School believes its practice of teaching boys and girls separately could fall foul of equality law


Menorah Primary in Golders Green is the latest Jewish school to consider splitting into separate boys and girls’ schools to comply with equality rules.

It follows a Court of Appeal ruling six years ago that a co-educational Muslim school which taught boys and girls separately was in breach of the law.

London’s Hasmonean High Schools, the Yesoiday Hatorah Primaries in Manchester and a number of independent Jewish schools have already opted to split into two in the wake of the legal decision.

The state-aided Menorah, which was founded in 1944, began separate classes for Jewish studies in the early 1980s and extended that to all subjects in 1991; boys and girls continued to mix for other activities.

Governors propose to formally divide the school into two for September, each with an intake of 25 a year and remaining on the same site.

The two schools would share the hall, the playground, the library and certain other areas, allowing them to “combine the advantages of single-sex education and interaction between boys and girls”, according to a consultation document sent to parents.

The two schools would be linked under the structure of a new federation.

Governors were aware that “the practice of providing separate education for boys and girls at the school is open to challenge by Ofsted.

“The possible outcome of such a challenge could be to compel the school to provide education in mixed sex classes, which is not consistent with the ethos of the school and is likely to be unacceptable to the community the school serves.”

It would place the school at “unnecessary and indeterminate risk” of enforcement action or legal proceedings.

The federation plan, parents were told, “would enable the continuation of the separate teaching of girls and boys which reflects the ethos of the school, the requirements of the school’s religious authority and the wishes of the existing parent body but in a manner which avoids any possible suggestion of illegality”.

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