Muslim group fails to take gender segregation case to Supreme Court

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Nov 08, 2017
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The Al-Hijrah faith school in Birmingham was found to have broken equalities law by teaching boys and girls separately

A Muslim school association has failed in its attempt to take a dispute over gender segregation to the Supreme Court. 

The Association of Muslim Schools (AMS) had applied to appeal a Court of Appeal decision last month that the Al-Hijrah faith school had broken equalities law by segregating boys and girls. The appeal court ruling backed the view of Ofsted, the body that inspects English schools. 

Neither the school nor the local council sought permission to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court. However, in a letter on October 24, the association applied to be a respondent or interested party or, failing that, an intervenor.

Yesterday, the three-strong Court of Appeal bench of Sir Terence Etherton, the Master of the Rolls, Lady Justice Gloster and Lord Justice Beatson, ruled that the association had applied too late. 

The judges pointed that the school had sufficient resources to appeal and therefore had not been “disabled” from attempting to take the case to the Supreme Court. 

“The school, as claimant, has made a conscious decision to accept and to implement the Court of Appeal's decision,” the judgment said. “The school does not encourage or support the desire of AMS to obtain permission to appeal in order to overturn the decision.” 

The judges added that “even if we had agreed to the application for joinder we would have refused permission to appeal on the ground, among others, that an appeal would have no real prospect of success. 

“Any subsequent application to the Supreme Court would itself foster uncertainty for an unpredictable period and with an uncertain outcome with implications for the council and the claimant school which accept and wish to implement our decision.”

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