Inspectors criticise narrow education in Charedi schools


Charedi independent schools are continuing to feel the heat from inspectors, according to a new batch of reports released over the past month.

No fewer than six strictly Orthodox schools were judged by Ofsted to fall short of the required standards.

But on the plus side, three Charedi schools have bucked the critical trend and received favourable inspections.

Beis Rochel, a girls' school in Stamford Hill run by one of the most conservative Chasidic sects, Satmar, which was ranked inadequate last year, has now satisfied Ofsted.

Inspectors said its education had "significantly improved" over the past year; a full English lesson was taught every afternoon, science and citizenship GCSE were being introduced and a PE teacher had been hired.

Pupils learned about diversity and democracy and "the focus on tolerance and mutual respect is especially celebrated all around the school", they said.

Chasidic girls generally enjoy a broader secular curriculum than their male peers at yeshivah.

Manchester Senior Girls School was rated good in its first inspection since opening in April last year. Girls are expected to achieve five or more GCSE A*-C passes with good grades predicted especially in maths, science and history.

Leeds Menorah, a small, mixed school with 29 pupils, has also been classified as good. Inspectors praised the quality of teaching and noted that pupils "learn to respect members of all faith and all cultural groups".

But other reports indicate that many Charedi schools are struggling to meet the demands of the secular authorities.

Beis Ruchel, another Stamford Hill girls' school which is operated by a different faction of Satmar, has been downgraded from good to inadequate.

While sewing was well taught, the curriculum was not broad or balanced enough and "the desire to provide a sheltered learning environment for its children means that pupils have very few opportunities to learn about other faiths".

Gateshead Boarding Jewish School has also dropped from good to inadequate, with boys taught too few GCSE subjects to prepare them for life in Britain, according to Ofsted.

Pupils "have very little experience of society beyond their own immediate community", inspectors found, and "very little opportunity to learn about, experience and gain an understanding of other cultures".

Another northern boys' school, Talmud Torah Chinuch N'orim in Manchester, was labelled inadequate. Despite steps being taken to improve English and Maths and other subjects, these were still at "a relatively early stage".

Although secular studies were improving too for boys at Beis Hatalmud in Salford, it had yet to reach the level to comply with independent school standards.

Two Chasidic boys school in Stamford Hill also need to do more to pass muster with Ofsted. At the Wiznitz Cheder, an inspector reported litter strewn across the school yard and "dangerous" equipment.

Getters fell down on checks and record-keeping on teachers. It is the third time the school has been found to be failing in various areas since it was rated inadequate two years ago.

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