A FAITH school has been “unlawfully” segregating pupils by sex, an unannounced emergency school inspection has found.

Markazul Uloom, an independent Islamic faith school in Blackburn, was subject to an Ofsted inspection called for by the Department for Education.

Ofsted found that the school ­— registered as a mixed school ­— is organised so the 176 pupils are segregated by sex “for the whole of their education and at social times”.

John Nixon, lead inspector, reported: “This is unlawful discrimination because of sex, contrary to the Equality Act 2010.”

Pupils are taught in separate buildings and follow different timetables at the £1,500 per year school and the segregation is said to have a detrimental impact on children’s education. Ofsted found boys can study history in Key Stage Four but girls cannot. Similarly, girls can study textiles or geography, but boys cannot.

The report added: “The school has one science laboratory. This is in the building designated as the girls’ section. As a result, boys do not have access to this high-quality learning resource to undertake practical experiments. As a result of the policy and practice of segregation by sex operating in the school, pupils from both sexes suffer detriment to their education.”

The inspector found that boys and girls have no opportunities to socialise during their time in school because of the ‘practice of segregation by sex that in operation’ with Mr Nixon commenting: “Pupils of both sexes suffer detriment as they are not well prepared for life in British society.”

Ofsted stated: “The separation therefore amounts to unlawful segregation on the ground of sex and direct discrimination, contrary to the Equality Act 2010. The proprietor has not ensured the school promotes respect for civil law because their actions model unlawful behaviour.”

The report noted that the school intends to make changes so it becomes two separate single-sex school.

The Ofsted inspection is the first since 2017, when the school was found to be “good with outstanding features”, and in which the inspecting team recognised the school had a girls and boys’ section.

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A school spokesperson said: “We have been operating in such a manner since September 2006 and have passed no less than four Ofsted inspections since then. Three of these inspections happened after the Equality Act 2010 came into force ­— two out of these three resulted in a ‘Good’ rating.

“After the landmark legal case against Al Hijrah School (Birmingham) the goalposts changed; for that reason, we have taken steps to bring ourselves in line with the current interpretation of the Equalities law, and are in the process of separating into two single-sex schools.”

National Secular Society spokeswoman Megan Manson said: Segregating children by sex harms children’s education and undermines their ability to form relationships with children of the opposite sex.

“But alarmingly some schools are continuing to segregate within the same school long after the practice was ruled unlawful.”