Family & Education

Ofsted repeats claim that Charedi school defied pupil restriction order

Bnois Jerusalem continues not to allow girls to sit exams for national qualifications, the inspection service said


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Ofsted has repeated accusations that a Charedi girls’ school has defied restrictions on admitting new pupils imposed by the Department for Education.

 Bnois Jerusalem, a large independent school in Stamford Hill which teaches girls from two to 16, was graded inadequate for the third time in four years in a report issued earlier this month.

 The school was told by the DfE in 2021 that it could not admit pupils from late September that year until its education proved - but Ofsted said in February this year that the school had added girls to the register before the cut-off date who were not due to start until January 2022.

 In the latest inspection report, Ofsted said leaders had “admitted pupils during the period defined in the restriction order. Leaders continue to use the admission register incorrectly by including many pupils awaiting admission.”

 It warned that the Secretary of State for Education “has powers to take regulatory action against schools found to be in breach of a restriction on their registration”.

 A spokesman for the school said, “We are currently in contact with DfE about Ofsted's interpretation of the restrictions and we seek to resolve the matter as soon as possible.”

 According to Ofsted last Feburary, the school had 804 girls on its book - six fewer than the previous year. Its current roll was listed at 722 in the latest report.

 On the positive side, inspectors said that pupils were receiving a better secular curriculum than before and reading a wider range of English books; in some subjects such as maths and history, the curriculum was more ambitious; and children got off to a better start because of improvements in early years learning.

 However, Ofsted reported, leaders had continued not to permit girls to take exams to achieve nationally recognised qualifications and pupils did not receive “impartial” careers advice.

 Leaders continued to “forbid any coverage of different religions, faiths and beliefs” and girls “do not receive adequate relationships education to equip them for life in British society,” Ofsted said. 

 RSE omitted “key concepts such as sexual consent, harassment and abuse” and pupils had “not been taught about legal rights and responsibilities” relating to groups protected under equality law, Ofsted found.

 (Protected groups include LGBT people.)

 Bnois Jerusalem’s spokesman said, “We are pleased that Ofsted has recognised the school is improving.”

Another Stamford Hill school received an inadequate rating for the fourth time in six years, although it was judged good ten years ago.

 Pupils at Bnei Zion Community School, an independent boys primary, were not learning to read English well or soon enough, Ofsted said. It recognised improvements to the secular curriculum made by its leadership including the introduction of a new phonics programme but found pupils’ skills and knowledge lacking in some subjects.

 Ofsted said the relationships and sex education curriculum had not been fully implemented, which meant that “pupils are not taught about different types of relationships that people may have and the legal rights of those with protected characteristics”.

 According to current guidelines on RSE and equality, secondary schools are supposed to teach children about LGBT awareness; primary schools are encouraged, but not required, to do this.

 Bnei Zion was operating “outside its registration agreement” because it was officially registered to take pupils from the age of three to five but was teaching pupils up to the age of 11, Ofsted said.

READ MORE: School 'breached' restriction

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