Charedi schools ‘erased women and Christmas from books’, Ofsted finds

By Simon Rocker, February 16, 2016
Stock picture (Credit: Flash 90)

Stock picture (Credit: Flash 90)

Ofsted inspectors have kept up their pressure on Charedi independent schools in Hackney, North London, with three new critical reports published in a week.

They said that pictures of women in one school had been erased, while the word “Christmas” was crossed out in another.

Inspectors said that Talmud Torah Yetev Lev and Beis Aharon, both boys’ primary schools in Stamford Hill, had still failed to make enough progress to meet state regulations since their last inspections.

A third boys primary school, Talmud Torah D’Chasidei Gur, which only three years ago received a top rating of outstanding, was ranked inadequate, the lowest grade.

Yetev Lev, which is one of the largest Jewish schools in the area with 794 boys from three to 13 and is run by the Satmar Chasidic sect, gave “insufficient time” to secular subjects, inspectors said.

“Most lessons are taught in Yiddish. This continues to impede pupils’ progress in basic literacy skills and their ability to speak, read and write in English,” Ofsted stated. “Pupils’ numeracy skills are not developed effectively.”

Inspectors were told by the school’s leaders that they had “no intention of providing pupils with experiences to enable them to acquire an appreciation of and respect for differences between people, based on culture, religion, sex and sexual orientation”.

Pupils were not given sufficient opportunities to interact with others “outside of their close community”.

Inspectors also found reading books “where images of females had either been erased or radically changed. Leaders also refused to allow pupils to talk to the female inspectors on a formal basis.”

The narrowness of the education at Beis Aharon was also criticised, with inspectors saying that only one hour a day was allocated to the secular curriculum.

Although English had been introduced for younger pupils, “the quality of teaching is poor and the time allocated for this is insufficient,” inspectors said. “Younger pupils still struggle to speak English.”

The word Christmas was crossed out in a reading book and pupils continued “to hold very narrow views about the role of women in society,” Ofsted said.

Inspectors also noted that leaders at Beis Aharon "obscure any images in reading books of women and girls with short sleeves or of children swimming."

Pupils still view the role of women is to be to "look after children, clean the house and cook", while men "go to work".

The Gur school was pulled up on the “limited breadth” of its curriculum. Children in the younger years do not learn to read and write in English, Ofsted reported.

When the Gur school received its outstanding rating three years ago, the inspector happened to be strictly Orthodox.

Last updated: 4:24pm, February 17 2016