Family & Education

Ofsted gives thumbs-up to Chasidic school on equality issues

Stamford Hill school passes latest Ofsted test - but Salford high school told it must teach about same-sex relations


 A Chasidic girls’ school in Stamford Hill that was previously criticised for avoiding LGBT issues has passed its latest equality check from Ofsted.

The inspection service said Beis Trana, which takes pupils from three to 16, was now complying with independent school standards.

But a state-aided Charedi girls’ high school, Beis Yaakov in Salford, which has been downgraded in its latest inspection, has been told it must teach students about same-sex relations.

Beis Trana was rated inadequate last year when, among other criticisms, Ofsted said that girls did not develop understanding for some of the “protected characteristics” under equality law; these include sexual orientation and gender reassignment.

But in its latest report, Ofsted says that new policies drawn up by the school now refer to “all the protected characteristics”. While work schemes do not refer to specific characteristics, “worksheets used by the school provide examples of different family groups using stylised drawings.”

The report does not spell out what kind of family groups are covered in the drawings.

But it is satisfied “the curriculum promotes pupils’ awareness of different relationships” and “better prepares them for life in modern Britain”.

The school, which abides by the authority of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, has also taken steps to broaden its curriculum, increasing the time allotted to English and enabling girls to take GCSEs in science and history.

Beis Yaakov, despite being rated well above average for academic progress by the Department for Education, has dropped an Ofsted grade from “good” to “requires improvement”.

Pupils were not fully prepared for life in Britain because “they are not taught about some of the characteristics that are protected by British law. In particular, pupils do not learn about issues relating to sexual orientation, gender identity and marriage and civil partnership.”

Ofsted noted positive attitudes to learning and strong progress made by girls. The school’s ethos was “kind, gentle and caring” and staff dealt capably with the exceptionally rare instances of bullying. Learning about different religions helped develop respect for others, the inspectorate said.

However, there was too little time for PE, no music and no opportunity to study a foreign language other than Hebrew. Girls lacked impartial careers advice and had “very few” extra-curricular activities.

Beis Yaakov was rated inadequate five years ago when Ofsted said the curriculum was too narrow and girls were not taught about other religions. But it quickly made changes and was rated good in a fresh inspection the following year.

Last year it was in the top 15 English schools for progress, according to the DfE which compares GCSE results with what might have been predicted for pupils when they entered school.


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