The Equality Act 2010 prohibits educational institutions from treating girls as second class in the quality or choice of their education. My Department—the Department for Education—takes seriously its responsibilities under the Act. We consider equality when deciding whether to open new schools and they are held to account through a rigorous inspection once they are open.
Does the Secretary of State not agree that there is a worrying tendency, certainly in some of the schools that I have visited up and down the country? I believe that separate is never equal, and separate education for girls in many faith schools is seen as important. I disagree. What does she think about it?
In co-educational schools, our expectation is that boys and girls will be taught together. There may be limited practical exceptions to that, such as elements of sex and relationship education or PE, and there may be situations when there is a genuine educational benefit. I should also point out that, as we showed in Birmingham last year, we will always respond swiftly and decisively to tackle those unacceptable practices if we discover them.