Ofsted blast for 'driving ban school'


A Chasidic school that was at the centre of the driving ban controversy earlier this year has been criticised by inspectors for not teaching children about sexual orientation.

Ofsted said the leaders of the Beis Malka Girls' School in Hackney, north London, considered that their faith took precedence over the standards required of independent schools.

In spring Belz leaders caused uproar when they threatened to ban pupils from their schools in London if their mothers drove cars as it went against their traditions of modesty.

But the schools withdrew the proposed policy after the Equality and Human Rights Commission warned that it would be illegal.

In a report published last week following an emergency inspection in summer, Ofsted noted that the girls knew about "a range of different faiths and beliefs".

However, inspectors said, "the headteacher accurately predicted the pupils' lack of knowledge about homophobic bullying because they 'didn't know that word'".

Talking about sexual orientation and preference was prohibited because that would contravene the school's ethos. "The headteacher commented: 'If we had to teach that, we would have to close as an Orthodox school,'" inspectors reported.

Ofsted added that career advice was limited and did not "help pupils to fulfil their potential" - 28 of those leaving after GCSEs were going to seminary.

In its previous inspection in 2013, Beis Malka - which has 479 pupils aged from three to 16 - was judged a good school. But its applications for state aid have been rejected.

While the girls took part in volunteering programmes, Ofsted observed, there was "insufficient evidence to demonstrate that pupils are able to contribute positively and more widely to society outside their faith community".

Beis Malka should ensure that teaching "does not undermine fundamental British values", inspectors stated.

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