Family & Education

Orthodox school criticised by Ofsted over creationism

Bnois Jerusalem did not teach pupils about scientific theories of the origins of life or let them sit GCSEs


A Strictly Orthodox girls’ school in Stamford Hill which does not allow pupils take GCSEs because it is unable to censor exam papers has been judged inadequate by Ofsted.

Bnois Jerusalem school, one of the largest Jewish schools in the area with 840 girls aged from two to 16, was also criticised for inappropriately teaching “creationism” in geography and science classes.

While the school had made improvements particularly in maths and careers education since being rated inadequate two years ago, its leaders had “limited the scope of the curriculum of the curriculum to make it fit with Orthodox Jewish teaching,” Ofsted reported.

Images and text in geography books had been redacted, inspectors said, and pupils did not learn anything about the “scientific theories about the origins of life”.

While they learned about creationism in Jewish studies, it was “inappropriate” to do so also in geography and science.

“Pupils do not take any external GCSE or other qualifications, because leaders would have to break examination regulations in order to censor the papers,” Ofsted stated.

Although they sat past papers and received internal certificates, these did not count towards qualifications they needed for further study.

Fiction books were “censored and redacted”, while there were no English language books in the library.

Speaking skills in English were weak - often pupils gave only “one-word answers in class and speak quietly so as not to be heard”.

Girls had “limited or no knowledge of other faiths and cultures”, while the leadership did not promote respect for “all groups” listed in equality law (which includes LGBT people).

The school’s fortunes demonstrate Ofsted’s tougher policy in recent years - in 2012 it was considered a good school.

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