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Education watchdog criticises Orthodox school over 'very limited' teaching

    The Beis Aharon Trust is mounting a legal challenge after the Department for Education demanded an improvement in standards at the strictly Orthodox boys school it runs in Stamford Hill, north London
    The Beis Aharon Trust is mounting a legal challenge after the Department for Education demanded an improvement in standards at the strictly Orthodox boys school it runs in Stamford Hill, north London

    A Charedi boys' school has been criticised by government inspectors for refusing to teach about evolution or sex and relationships.

    Ofsted said Getters Talmud Torah in Stamford Hill, north London, which has 241 pupils aged from three to 13, limited the teaching of secular subjects to between 45 minutes and an hour a day with “no provision for younger years”.

    Boys held stereotypical views about gender roles in believing that men went to work while women cook and clean.

    The school was still failing to meet the required standards for independent schools and arrangements for safeguarding students were “ineffective”, Ofsted said.

    The secular curriculum focused on numeracy, comprehension, spelling and grammar but there was “ very limited” teaching of topics to do with geography, history and citizenship. Science was also limited.

    The school’s policy promoted the teaching of “incorrect content” because it excluded references to evolution or prehistoric events predating the creation of the world 5776 years ago. “Therefore the curriculum still does not ensure pupils have correct knowledge and understanding in the required areas of their education,” inspectors declared.

    Pupils had not heard of drama and were not taught music or art.

    Getters continued to “preclude any reference to sex and relationships education because to do so would contravene the precepts of their faith”, Ofsted said.

    Pupils, who were taught Jewish studies in Yiddish, were well- behaved and polite, inspectors noted.

    But as they did not learn about respect for people of same-sex orientation, inspectors said, “this aspect of the curriculum still does not meet requirements”.

    The report is further evidence of a tougher inspection stance towards strictly Orthodox independent schools over the past two years.

    Another Chasidic school in Stamford Hill is awaiting the outcome of an appeal against a Department for Education order not to admit new schools until it complies with Ofsted requirements.

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