Hasidic School In London Reprimanded For Not Teaching About Sexual Orientation

A Hasidic school in London was reprimanded by Britain’s Office for Standards in Education for not teaching its students about sexual orientation.

The inspection report released last week praised the Talmud Torah Machzikei Hadass in Stamford Hill for making strides in some areas, but it criticized the school for avoiding teaching subjects related to gender or sexuality.

“The school’s ethos is based on its founding principle of ‘unconditional adherence to the Shulcan Aruch (code of Jewish law).’

This means that pupils are shielded from learning about particular differences, such as sexual orientation,” the report said. “In practice, across the curriculum this means that the explicit teaching of all the protected characteristics, specifically those that relate to gender or sexuality, is avoided.”

Inspectors noted in the report that the school had made progress in literacy and numeracy schemes, although the planned revisions of science and physical education had yet to be implemented, and had improved its career guidance.

“The last inspection reported that the school failed to meet a number of the independent school standards relating to promoting pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Leaders have taken action towards addressing the unmet standards” in this area, it said.

The report said that students “continue to show respect towards themselves and to others in their community.”

It also said: “During visits to classrooms, pupils were observed discussing confidently respect for one another and for those of different faiths and religions.”

In May 2015, the Belz-run school said in a letter that allowing women to drive was against the Hasidic sect’s traditional rules of modesty and students would not be allowed to enter school if their mothers drove them there. The school later retracted the rule after Britain’s education secretary ordered an investigation.

1 reply
  1. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    Private Beis Malka Girls’ School and Talmud Torah Machzikei Hadass in Stamford Hill have said they won’t back down in the face of severe criticism from education watchdog Ofsted this week.

    Beis Malka governor Dovid Spitzer said the government has now made clear that its religious beliefs are a “barrier to our school’s success”.

    Mr Spitzer said: “We believe this part of our children’s education is the duty and responsibility of the family; these subjects are not to be taught at school.”

    He added: “Whilst we always strive to improve our school, it seems that our religious beliefs about the teaching of relationships are now a barrier to our school’s success.”

    Both schools, which teach ages 2 to 16, are now locked in a tense stand-off with the Department for Education (DfE).

    They could close down if they repeatedly fail to teach pupils about sexuality or gender – a legal requirement set out in the DfE’s regulations for independent schools: the Independent School Standards.

    Both schools, part of the Belz Hasidic community, were rated “good” by Ofsted at their last full inspections in 2013 and 2014.

    But since then, inspectors have returned twice in 2015 and this year to find they do not comply with the law.

    In an Ofsted inspection report published last week, Machzikei Hadass school leaders said that they don’t, and “do not intend to,” teach pupils about sexuality or gender.

    The topic was also “avoided” at Beis Malka, another report on Monday stated.

    A spokesman for the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations said the community would “not give in”.

    He said: “The rabbis in the Orthodox Haredi community are very adamant that none of the schools should speak to children about sexuality. Parents don’t want the schools to teach their children this.”

    He added that the issue has been raised with education secretary Nicky Morgan.

    A Department for Education spokesman said: “All children, whether they go to an independent school or a state funded school, should receive a broad education that prepares them for life in modern Britain.

    “Any independent school that refuses to comply with the Independent School Standards risks being removed from the register of independent schools, meaning it would no longer be able to operate.”

    It is not the first time the schools have run into trouble with the DfE. Last year, Belz leaders threatened to ban pupils if their mothers drove them to school over concerns about modesty. The proposed policy was withdrawn after a backlash.

    Machzikei Hadass was also until recently an unregistered “illegal school,” Hackney Council has confirmed. It is now on the register.

    Beis Malka also had an unregistered crèche on its site, which was closed down in April, according to Ofsted.

    As illegal schools are founded under the radar, they cannot be held accountable to Ofsted or the DfE.

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