Strictly Orthodox inspectors off Ofsted list


An education inspector who criticised Ofsted's approach to Jewish schools no longer appears on its approved list.

Rabbi Nesanel Lieberman, head of the Bnos Beis Yaakov School in Kingsbury, north-west London, accused the government's inspection service of "having an agenda to knock down our schools" earlier this year.

Neither his name nor that of two other strictly Orthodox inspectors, rabbis Chanan Tomlin and Yonoson Yodaiken, were included on the new list of approved inspectors this week.

None of the three was available for comment this week. Rabbi Lieberman, a registered inspector since 2009, claimed earlier this year that Ofsted was reluctant to send Jewish inspectors into Jewish schools.

Ofsted said it had introduced new arrangements for managing inspectors, resulting in fewer being registered.

It would not say whether any of the three men had applied to remain with the service, and strongly rejected any suggestion that they had been dropped because they were thought to be too favourable to strictly Orthodox schools.

Rabbis Lieberman and Yodaiken were part of the inspection team that last year ranked one strictly Orthodox school - Machzikei Hadass, in Hackney - as "good".

An Ofsted spokesperson said: "These changes are aimed at ensuring inspection of even higher quality and greater consistency."

The spokesperson added that the selection process did not include an analysis of inspectors' published judgments.

Over the past 15 months, a number of state-aided Jewish schools have been downgraded, while several independent Charedi schools have been judged inadequate - the lowest inspection grade.

Earlier this year, Ofsted said that changes to the system "should not be seen as a criticism of the current inspection arrangements".

Two former Hasmonean High School headteachers, Beverley Perin and Rabbi David Radomsky, remain on the Ofsted approved list.

Jonathan Rabson, National Association of Orthodox Jewish Schools executive director said he regretted Ofsted's decision. "It is important that inspectors understand the culture and ethos of the school," he said.

A Board of Deputies spokesman said: "Where a school with a religious character is being inspected, it appears that the latest Ofsted policy is to use inspectors who are not from that community to ensure complete objectivity, although when a specialist knowledge is required, experts will be brought in."

The Board said that it had been instrumental in helping Jewish schools to explain their aims and ethos to inspectors.

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