A Jewish state school is considering calling for a judicial review to challenge an Ofsted report that judged it to be "inadequate" because of the way it separates boys and girls.
Ofsted said that the way King David High School in Manchester kept some boys and girls separate in different sections of the school was “unlawful segregation on the grounds of faith and belief and sex.”
The inspection report moved the school from "outstanding" to "inadequate" and said pupils who are “affected by this segregation suffer detriment.”
Controversy: School refuses to let inspectors speak to pupils
The school have now strongly criticised this finding of the report.
In a letter to parents, the school’s chair of governors Joshua Rowe said they are considering legal action or splitting their school into three separate academies.
The school currently operates in three sections, with one for boys (Yavneh Boys) and another for girls (Yavneh Girls), and a third section which is not segregated.
King David High says that 30 per cent of its school is part of a Yavneh structure in which boys and girls are kept separate.
The Ofsted report says that the different treatment of pupils constituted "direct discrimination contrary to the Equality Act 2010 and breaches the school’s public sector equality duty".
However, in the letter to parents, Mr Rowe said: “The school lawyers and counsel believe that Ofsted is wrong on the law.
"Segregation is top-down: those in authority determining where a person may or may not attend whereas at our school, it is the pupils who choose where they wish to attend.”
He said that the school was considering a judicial review.
Mr Rowe said that another option would be to split into three different schools and run as a multi-academy trust.
And he said the school could work with the Department for Education – who he said had been very supportive – to find a solution.
The report follows the Court of Appeal ruling in 2017 that a faith school’s strict segregation of pupils by gender amounts to unlawful gender.
The case was brought by Ofsted following an inspection of the Al Hijrah school in Birmingham.
Mr Rowe said that following this case King David High had sought and received the approval of the DfE that it was compliant with the law and code.
He added: “This the lead inspector brushed aside, saying that he did not follow DfE guidance, only the Ofsted guidance.”
The letter to parents also says that inspectors had asked pupils and the chair of governors whether students had been encouraged to join the Israeli army and whether the school had adequate Prevent training.
The Ofsted report said that training for staff about the ‘Prevent’ duty is not systematic.