A state-aided Orthodox school breached equalities law by prioritising students whose rabbi could confirm they were “halachically Jewish”, a ruling has found.
The Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) upheld a complaint about Barnet’s Menorah Primary School admissions policy on multiple grounds in a decision published yesterday.
Among them was the fact that pupils whom a rabbi confirmed were “halachically Jewish” were given priority for admission to the oversubscribed school.
But the OSA found: “The Supreme Court has ruled that school admission arrangements that give priority on the basis of being halachically Jewish amount to unlawful discrimination on grounds of race.”
The school’s policy also gave priority to those who frequently attended the Golders Green Beth Hamedrash synagogue – which founded the school – or whose parents are members.
The regulator found this too would involve a breach of equalities law, as only those who were halachically Jewish could become members of the shul.
Those who were members are required to pay an annual fee. This fell afoul of rules which forbid giving priority based on any “financial support parents may give to the school or any associated organisation.”
The complaint, brought by a member of the public, also raised concerns about priority given to those who had attended a linked nursery.
The school had argued that this was always allowed, while the objector had argued that it was not always allowed.
The regulator found that in Menorah’s case, the prioritisation was unfair, because “gaining a place at the school’s nursery is effectively a condition of gaining a place in the school.”
The admissions authority is now required to change its policy within two months of the ruling.
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