Jewish sect's ban on women drivers is 'completely unacceptable in modern Britain', says Nicky Morgan

North London community have responded that notice was not meant to 'stigmatise or discriminate against children or their parents'

Rose Troup Buchanan
Sunday 31 May 2015 11:44
Morgan, also minister for equality and women, has criticised the community's notice
Morgan, also minister for equality and women, has criticised the community's notice

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has labelled a Jewish community’s decision to ban women driving “completely unacceptable”.

Leaders of the north-west London Belz sect, part of an ultra-orthodox branch of Haredi Judaism, reportedly sent a letter telling parents their children would be prevented from attending school should their mothers’ drive.

The letter, seen by the Jewish Chronicle, claimed that female drivers were “contrary to the rules of religious modesty” and warned that from August children at the school in Stamford Hill would be turned away if their mothers violated the policy.

Ms Morgan, also minister for women and equalities, said of the notice: “This is completely unacceptable in modern Britain.

"If schools do not actively promote the principle of respect for other people they are breaching the independent school standards,” she said in a statement to the Guardian.

The Department of Education confirmed that an investigation was underway.

The school, one of two run by the Belz community in the area, has been rated “Good” by Ofsted in the past.

Belz leaders in Stamford Hill said children would be banned from its schools if their mothers drove

Ahron Klein, chief executive of the schools, defended the “religious principles” and “strong traditional values” of the community but claimed the notice had not intended to "stigmatise or discriminate against children or their parents".

“We are proud of what we stand for and we do not feel the need to excuse ourselves for our deeply held beliefs and staunchly maintained way of life. It has withstood the test of time and is not prone to the vagaries of passing fads,” he wrote in response to Mrs Morgan’s letter.

He conceded that the “issue of women driving cars” was one which the community “intended to address”. Mr Klein added that women who chose to drive would be “respected” within the community.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in