Family & Education

Ofsted head writes to JC to answer criticism

Amanda Spielman has responded to accusations of publicly humiliating a Strictly Orthodox school


Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman has written to the JC to deny that she publicly humiliated a Strictly Orthodox school.

The Ofsted head was quizzed on her attitude towards the state-aided Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls School in Stamford Hill by the parliamentary education select committee last week.

But following her appearance, Eli Spitzer, the head of another Charedi school, took her to task in a JC blog, describing her treatment of Yesodey Hatorah as  "public humiliation” and saying it had been “unfairly hounded” by her repeated references to it over the past two years.

In her letter, Mrs Spielman said she had been “saddened” by Mr Spitzer’s accusation.

“It is true that I have named the school in the past, in relation to measures it took to censor certain textbooks,” she explained.

“However, I would like to assure your readers, and Mr Spitzer, that I had not intended to discuss the school with the committee” – particularly, she added in view of the recent death of its principal Rabbi Avrohom Pinter.

“I was directly asked by the chair to name and discuss the school – leading to an exchange of views,” she said.

“Sadly, a significant number of faith schools – of different faiths – have been judged inadequate by Ofsted, for various reasons but including issues around censorship.”

But many faith schools, including Charedi schools, had balanced adherence to their faith with meeting pupils’ needs, earning a good or outstanding grade from Ofsted, she pointed out.

Yesodey Hatorah was downgraded to inadequate in 2018 when inspectors highlighted censorship of some textbooks, including passages in a history book about Elizabeth I.

But when Mrs Spielman suggested earlier this year it had “airbrushed women out of history”, the school said that was untrue and that girls learned about Queen Elizabeth as well as other female leaders.

Mr Spitzer heads Talmud Torah Tiferes Shlomo, a school for boys in Hendon, which was recently graded good by Ofsted earlier this year.



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