The education watchdog Ofsted has admitted it was wrong to downgrade an Outstanding school to Inadequate over its single-sex education policy.
In its report, the inspectorate accused The King David High School in Manchester of breaching the Equality Act by ‘unlawfully segregating pupils on the grounds of faith and belief and sex’.
Ofsted backed down after the school threatened legal action and will have to pay the school’s estimated £80,000 legal costs.
King David’s operates a mainstream school, but also offers more focussed modern Orthodox Jewish teaching in separate streams – Yavneh Girls and Yavneh Boys.
Parents can choose for their children to attend either the mainstream school or to have more specialised single-sex Jewish education.
Ofsted recognised the school was strong in pupil attainment, effective teaching, behaviour and curriculum, but accused it of direct discrimination and gave the school an Inadequate rating.
Prior to the report’s release in June, the school’s Chair of Governors Joshua Rowe told the watchdog it was wrong to claim the school was acting unlawfully. When the inspectorate did not back down, he launched a judicial review.
Within three weeks of issuing proceedings, Ofsted took the “very unusual step” of backing down and admitted it was wrong.
The original rating of Outstanding will be reinstated.
A spokesman for the inspectorate said: “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.”