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R (SB) v Headteacher and Governors of Denbigh High School - human rights and religious dress in schools [2005] CFLQ 399

Date:21 SEP 2011

This commentary considers the implications of the Court of Appeal's decision in its judicial review of Denbigh High School's refusal to allow a female pupils to attend school wearing the jilbab. It analyses the legal basis of the decision and highlights the legal complexities that have arisen at the borders of Human Rights law and discrimination law. The decision is important in recognising the child's right to manifest her religion or belief at school and in emphasising the importance of following statutory exclusion procedures. The commentary argues that, nevertheless, many important questions remain unanswered and that the reform to extend discrimination law protection based on religion or belief to pupils, and/or to update education law opt-out provisions to cover religious dress requirements is overdue. However it also recognises that this process is far from simple and will need to acknowledge not only conflicting views on the place of religious expression in schools, but also the potential for adverse impact on female pupils and their educational rights.

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