Jewish school is cleared of bias

London, UK - A Jewish school has been cleared of an accusation that its entry criteria racially discriminated against an 11-year-old boy it refused to admit.

The JFS in north-west London rejected him because his mother was not regarded as Jewish, the High Court heard.

The boy - named in court only as M - has a Jewish father. His mother converted to the Jewish faith before he was born but had been a Roman Catholic.

Mr Justice Munby ruled that its entry policy was "entirely legitimate".

'Not Jewish enough'

The state-maintained JFS, formerly the Jews' Free School, is heavily over-subscribed.

It gives preference to applicants whose "Jewish status" is confirmed by the United Synagogue.

In the eyes of the United Synagogue the 11-year-old was not Jewish because his mother was not accepted as Jewish.

His family's lawyer Dinah Rose QC accused the school of applying an application test "not based on faith but wholly or partly on ethnic origins".

M's father told the court that he was "appalled" that his son had been declared "not Jewish enough" to attend the school.

'Proportionate and lawful'

The judge said that the kind of admissions policy in question was "not materially different from that which gives preference in admission to a Muslim school to those who were born Muslim, or preference in admission to a Catholic school to those who have been baptised".

"But no-one suggests that such policies, whatever their differential impact on different applicants, are other than a proportionate and lawful means of achieving a legitimate end," he added.

The judge said a decision against the school could have rendered unlawful "the admission arrangements in a very large number of faith schools of many different faiths and denominations".

The British Humanist Association supported M's application for judicial review.