Family & Education

Charedi schools group welcomes Ofsted policy on LGBT

Chinuch UK says Inspection service's recognition that primary schools do not have to teach about same-sex relationships is 'constructive step'


Chinuch UK, the Charedi schools' group, has welcomed a statement from Ofsted recognising that primary schools do not have to teach children about same-sex relationships. 

Over the past 12 months several strictly Orthodox primary schools were criticised by Ofsted for avoiding LGBT issues, alarming Charedi leaders. 

Chinuch UK said it welcomed Ofsted's “new policy guidance on how schools are required to promote tolerance and respect”, which “brings an end to schools facing censure for not teaching young children about this very sensitive subject.” 

Schools would have “greater freedom” to listen to parents’ voices and decide what is appropriate, it said.  

“While this guidance does not resolve all issues for Charedi schools, it is a very constructive step and will have a positive impact.” 

Schools will be expected to begin teaching the new relationships and sex education curriculum in the summer term but Ofsted said it would begin looking at their preparations to do so from January. 

According to Department for Education guidelines, secondary schools are expected to talk about same-sex relationships, while primary schools are only “encouraged” to. 

But Ofsted has previously pulled up some Orthodox independent primary schools which did not talk about families with same-sex parents on the grounds that they failing to meeting requirements to promote equality. 

In its policy statement on Thursday, Ofsted made clear that primaries which did not teach about LGBT people would not be penalised as long as they had consulted parents about their RSE policy. 

If a secondary school does not start teaching about LGBT relationships from the start of the summer term, it will not meet the DfE’s requirements for RSE. 

Additionally, an independent secondary school which does not already teach them will “fail” to meet existing standards on equality, Ofsted said. “This failure means the school will not ordinarily receive a leadership and management judgement better than requires improvement [the second lowest of the four inspection grades].”  

Faith schools, Ofsted said, could “explain that same-sex relationships and gender reassignment are not permitted by a particular religion. However, if they do so, they must also explain the legal rights LGBT people have under UK law, and that this and LGBT people must be respected.” 

In a separate statement, the inspection service addressed another issue of concern to Charedi schools, some of which have not allowed inspectors to talk  with pupils. 

“We recognise that some school leaders do not wish inspectors to ask pupils certain questions, for example about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues,” Ofsted said. 

“If a school requests that inspectors do not speak to pupils about a topic that the school reasonably believes is sensitive for its pupils, inspectors will not ask pupils questions about it.” 

However, Ofsted added that since secondary schools were required to teach about LGBT issues, if inspectors were unable to talk with pupils, they would be unable “to demonstrate that the school is meeting its obligations”.  

That, Ofsted warned, would have “consequences” when inspectors gave their judgment on personal development of pupils, the school’s leadership and management, and its compliance with independent school standards. 

Chinuch UK said it believed the new guidance "represents positive progress. It requires that inspectors, before starting an inspection, agree with school leaders how they will speak to children and what subjects will and will not be covered."

It also noted that "inspectors will not speak to pupils without another adult present if parents or the pupils themselves do not consent to this".

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive