School criticised by Ofsted

A Chasidic primary boys' school in Hackney has been criticised by Ofsted for giving pupils an inadequate secular education after an emergency inspection.

An inspector arrived unannounced last month at the Chaim Meirim school, which is run by the Visnitz Chasidic group for 230 pupils aged from five to 12.

In a report released this month, Ofsted said that pupils were "making inadequate progress" in English and maths - and their curriculum was "too narrow".

While some subjects were covered in Jewish studies, "not enough attention is given to history, geography, science, technology, creative activities and physical education".

English is an additional language for most of the boys.

Discussions with pupils showed that "they have a very limited understanding of other cultures and faiths and only a sketchy understanding of public institutions and services in England. They told the inspector that they had little involvement in their local and wider community other than their immediate religious community." The school's child protection arrangements were also found to be inadequate.

The emergency inspection followed two Ofsted visits to the school in 2012 and came because of "concerns about the provision made for pupils' welfare, the quality of the curriculum and teaching and pupils' progress, especially in English and mathematics".

Although independent schools are not bound by the national curriculum, they are expected to teach a broad secular education under government regulations.

A Chaim Meirim representative said: "We are considering the points and formulating a response."

    Last updated: 11:45am, February 17 2014