Family & Education

A dozen Charedi schools issued warnings about 'serious' regulatory failings in 2018, latest figures show

Inspectors told by one school that reference to sexual orientation or gender reassignment is a red line that will not be crossed


Education authorities issued warnings to a dozen Charedi independent schools about “serious” failings in 2018, figures have revealed.

They were among 139 warnings notices issued by the Department for Education to independent schools last year.

Notices are triggered by Ofsted inspections which identify “serious regulatory failings” in a school.

The school must then submit an action plan to the DfE on how it will make the required improvements.

But if it fails to show progress, it could face restrictions on admitting new pupils or, in the worst case, closure.

The government has proposed reducing the time schools have to implement an action plan- although it has yet to announce whether it will go ahead with the change.

Failings recorded in Charedi schools that have received notices vary from curriculum or the assessment of children to the quality of facilities.

But in most cases, they include the issue that has been at the heart of the clash between the educational establishment and the Strictly Orthodox community - the teaching of British values.

According to DfE guidelines, the teaching of respect for other people should take account of the groups protected under equality law - which includes people of same-sex orientation or those who have reassigned their gender.

Representatives of Charedi groups argue it is not necessary to cover all protected groups and Ofsted is going beyond the letter of the law if it insists schools do.

* Meanwhile, Ofsted this week said another Charedi school, the Beis Ruchel d'Satmar School for Girls, in Hackney, was still falling short of requirements.

While the school had made progress since being ranked inadequate three years ago, particularly in the teaching of English, inspectors said after a recent follow-up visit that the school's leadership still maintained that any reference to sexual orientation or gender reassignment was a "red line" that would not be crossed.

Inspectors reported again being unable to speak with girls about their personal, spiritual, moral and cultural development.

The DfE last month sent a letter to independent school heads, warning them they could be in breach of standards if inspectors were unable to talk to pupils.

But in a sharp letter last week to Education Secretary Damian Hinds, Berish Berger, the chairman of the Stamford Hill-based Torah Education Committee, said that if some parents had discouraged their children from talking to inspectors, it was the  "desperate response ...  to Ofsted’s inflexible, disrespectful and uncompromising approach to Orthodox Jewish schools".

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