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Court Must Apply Current Standards

A separated Jewish couple who have divergent views on the best kind of education for their children have had the issue decided by the Court of Appeal.

The father, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, wished the children to attend single-sex ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools. The children’s mother opposed this, proposing instead that they should go to a mainstream Jewish school.

An ultra-Orthodox school provides Talmudic education, which effectively means that the children would not have the opportunity to obtain recognised educational qualifications after GCSE.

In such cases, the Court is obliged to act in the best interests of the children. It considered that this should be determined according to the standards of reasonable men and women of today. This, the Court considered, means allowing the children’s opportunities to be maximised ‘in every sphere of life’. The ultra-Orthodox education would not achieve this and the opportunities for girls would be particularly limited.

Accordingly, the father’s argument was rejected.

“It is every adult’s responsibility to act in the best interests of their children,” says Alan Kiddle. “When religious or other views may deprive children of opportunities or individual freedoms, the court can intervene, and will base its judgment on the social conditions that apply in the society in which we live.”

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