Ofsted has delivered a damning verdict on a boys’ school run by one of the largest Chasidic groups in Stamford Hill, highlighting low standards in English and maths and a lack of teaching about computers.
Although Talmud Torah Machzikei Hadass, administered by the Belz Chasidim, was rated as good four years ago, it has now received the lowest inspection grade — inadequate.
With 649 pupils, Machzikei Hadass is unusual in Stamford Hill in educating boys from three to 16, when many other Charedi boys’ schools in the area stop at 12 or 13.
Ofsted found that teachers’ expectations for secular subjects were too low, the curriculum lacked sufficient depth and there was insufficient improvement in maths and English.
“Pupils’ work shows that the implementation of the curriculum for English and mathematics results in typically low standards. This significantly disadvantages pupils in pursuing the next stage of their education.”
Teachers’ comments in pupils’ books “do not demonstrate high standards of presentation and handwriting”, offering “a very poor role model to pupils who struggle to achieve consistently neat and accurate handwriting”.
Although Machzikei Hadass had introduced effective training for teachers in English for younger age groups, there were too few English books on display, except for the early years.
Although English was an optional subject after key stage three (age 14), the school’s leadership told inspectors they had received no requests for it from parents.
The school’s leaders also said they were “acting on the wishes of parents in omitting to teach pupils how to use computers”.
On the positive front, pupils were well-behaved and learned about respecting others and contributing to wider society.
They “sponsor the welfare of a young person in Afghanistan” and know the main features of religions other than their own, inspectors said.
But the school continued not to teach them about all groups protected under equality law, including those relating to sexual orientation and gender reassignment.
“Pupils are not prepared well enough for their future lives as a result of these gaps in the curriculum,” Ofsted remarked.
Machzikei Hadass declined to comment.