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School told to teach more about transgender issues

Governors say improvements already under way at Bury and Whitefield after critical Ofsted

    Musical evening at Bury and Whitefield School
    Musical evening at Bury and Whitefield School

    An Oftsed inspector suggested a state-aided Orthodox primary school should put up a poster to highlight transgender issues as part of its teaching about equality, parents were told.

    Bury and Whitefield Jewish School in Manchester, which was ranked outstanding in its previoius full inspection in 2007, has been downgraded to a school that “requires improvement” .

    A “lack of consistency in the promotion of equalities and British values” among different year groups was one of the criticisms made by Ofsted.

    While the report did not go into detail, a letter to parents from governors, the head and deputy headteacher said an inspector had made clear “we are not actively promoting the teaching of what is meant by cross gender and transgender”.

    The letter said,  “When we asked the inspector how they would expect us to be ‘promoting’ cross gender and transgender, the inspector advised that he would like to see some posters up around the school, highlighting such. We will have to address this issue going forward. It is a major concern to Ofsted. This also applies to same-sex parents, and gay/bisexual parents.”

    Harvey Jacobson, chairman of governors, told the JC this week that Rabbi Avrohom Jaffe, the vice-chairman, was looking into the question.
    “To find a balance between Jewish law and British law is going to be difficult to achieve,” Mr Jacobson said.

    Ofsted explained that an inspector, asked for advice, had given an example of other schools using posters to display different family types but “did not tell the school to display specific posters. We expect all schools to provide a broad curriculum that teaches respect and tolerance towards everyone. With this in mind, inspectors recommended that the school’s work to promote British values and equalities should be formally planned within the school curriculum, to promote greater consistency in pupils’ understanding.”

     While the Ofsted report was “a major disappointment”, the letter to parents acknowledged, the school’s leaders promised, “You will see many improvements as we go forward to the last term of the year, and beyond.”

    Inspectors found slow progress in maths among the earlier years, an undeveloped curriculum in science, history and geography and poor presentation of work.

    Pupils’ progress at the end of key stage two (the final year) was in the bottom 20 per cent of schools for reading and writing, Ofsted reported.
    But Ofsted said pupils with special needs made good progress.

    Governors told parents that with  the appointment of Kate Gibson to head the Early Years Foundation Stage and Chloe Pereira to head years one to three, they were “confident the school will thrive and move forward quickly”.

    They felt “very positive and excited about the future of our school”.

    Mr Jacobson said the school roll had been increasing over the last three to four years.

    Action has already been taken to improve the quality of school meals, with year-six pupils having told Ofsted they were “sloppy, malnutritious gloop”.

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