Family & Education

Chasidic school inspected by mistake, report says

Department for Education acknowledges second Ofsted inspection of Salford school in less than a year was commissioned in 'error'


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A Chasidic girls school in Salford was inspected by mistake, the educational authorities have admitted.

Beis Malka, an independent school in Salford, which takes girls from three to 16, was judged to require improvement when it was inspected in May last year.

But it received another visit from Ofsted only five months later that said the school was not meeting some independent school standards, because it does not teach about all groups protected under anti-discrimination law (which include LGBT people).

However, an unusual note at the end of Ofsted’s latest report added, “During this inspection, which was requested lawfully, Ofsted were informed by the Department of Education (DfE) that the inspection was commissioned in error. 

“At the point this information was received from DfE, Ofsted had commenced the inspection and therefore Ofsted statutory inspection functions were engaged.”

The JC understands that the DfE's normal practice would be to request a follow-up visit only if it were considering enforcement action against the school or felt it necessary to check improvements.

Ofsted was asked by the JC to explain why it did not call off the inspection once it had been informed of the error but the inspection service so far has not responded.  

Last year’s report noted that the school’s curriculum was “interesting and ambitious” and that while girls spoke little English when they entered, they quickly developed “strong speaking and listening skills in English, alongside their home language”.

But pupils did not learn everything they needed to know about “protected characteristics” (groups protected by equality law), which “limits their readiness for life beyond school”.

The latest report said Beis Malka had submitted an action plan in September but this “did not pay sufficient regard to the rights of the different groups of people covered by the protected characteristics”. The plan was evaluated by Ofsted and rejected by the DfE.

Meanwhile, Ofsted has noted improvements made at a large independent primary school run by the Satmar Chasidic community - which teaches 434 boys up to the age of 12 - since its previous inspection two years ago.

But it rated Talmud Torah Yetev Lev as requiring improvement overall, despite some good features, because the curriculum was not always well structured in some subjects.

“Pupils are clear about fundamental British values, such as democracy, and are encouraged to show respect for all the protected characteristics in the Equality Act 2010,” Ofsted said. “Leaders provide opportunities for pupils to appreciate the importance of respect for other religions.” 

READ MORE: Gateshead schools complains to Ofsted over downgrade

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