Charedi boys are miss­ing out on sec­u­lar ed­u­ca­tion

Latest ta­bles show strik­ing dif­fer­ences in the amount of sec­u­lar ed­u­ca­tion given in Ortho­dox schools

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY SI­MON ROCKER

STRIK­ING DIF­FER­ENCES in the amount of sec­u­lar ed­u­ca­tion be­ing given by strictly Ortho­dox schools are ap­par­ent in this year’s sec­ondaryschool league ta­bles.

The two best-per­form­ing Jewish schools in the coun­try at GSCE level — in terms of the av­er­age points per pupil — are both strictly Ortho­dox in­de­pen­dent girls’ schools in Lon­don: the Meno­rah High School in Dol­lis Hill and the Lubav­itch Se­nior Girls’ School in Stam­ford Hill.

But the fig­ures also re­veal that in some schools pupils are tak­ing few, if any, GCSEs at all — and Charedi boys gen­er­ally re­ceive far less sec­u­lar ed­u­ca­tion than girls.

Es­ther Pearlman, head of Meno­rah, which opened six years ago, said: “We’re thrilled at our per­for­mance. We have a fan­tas­tic team of ded­i­cated teach­ers who are re­ally con­cerned with the de­vel­op­ment of each child.”

The school’s GCSE score of 523 is the equiv­a­lent of 10 grade As for ev­ery girl. Pupils de­vote a third of the week to Jewish stud­ies and take GCSEs in bib­li­cal He­brew, mod­ern He­brew and re­li­gious stud­ies.

Rabbi S h muel Lew, h e a d o f Lubav­itch Se­nior Girls’, which also scored above 500 at GCSE, said: “We have put a lot of ef­fort in en­hanc­ing our gen­eral-stud­ies pro­gramme over the last few years. We had a num­ber of very good girls last year.”

The aca­demic re­sults are all the more im­pres­sive given that Jewish stud­ies oc­cupy half the timetable (in­clud­ing bib­li­cal He­brew and re­li­gious stud­ies GCSE).

By con­trast, at one of the largest Hack­ney Ortho­dox schools, the Beis Rochel d’Sat­mar, just two per cent of girls at­tain five GCSE grades at A*- C, re­flect­ing a much lower em­pha­sis there on sec­u­lar stud­ies.

The dif­fer­ence be­tween girls and boys in the Charedi com­mu­nity is ev­i­dent from the ex­am­ple of the Ye­sodey Hato­rah Schools in Hack­ney. Three­quar­ters of the girls’ school, which be­came state-aided in 2005, achieved at least five GCSEs at A*- C, with a high av­er­age points score of 468 for the 45 pupils.

The boys’ sec­tion, how­ever, scored just 105 on av­er­age, and there were just seven boys in the GCSE year — in­dica­tive of the fact that many Charedi boys be­gin yeshivah at a young age.

At the Gateshead Board­ing School for boys, only 13 per cent achieved five or more GCSEs.

While Lubav­itch boys may at­tain fewer for­mal sec­u­lar qual­i­fi­ca­tions at school than girls, Rabbi Lew com­mented: “Our chil­dren are ed­u­cated to be able to use their minds and study, what­ever the sub­ject is. We try to gear them to­wards be­ing able to go into what­ever pro­fes­sion they want. Some will go into pro­fes­sions, some into busi­ness, many into ac­tiv­i­ties to help the com­mu­nity.”

Rabbi Avra­ham Pin­ter, prin­ci­pal of Ye­sodey Hato­rah schools in Stam­ford Hill, was dis­ap­pointed at his school’s show­ing: “We were sec­ond in the coun­try two years’ run­ning four years ago.

“Re­ally, only the value-added ta­ble has any mean­ing be­cause it shows you are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence. The ta­bles are not help­ful be­cause they do not en­cour­age schools to wel­come chil­dren with spe­cial needs who are more chal­leng­ing. Our aim is to turn out chil­dren with a love of Ju­daism, with good traits and so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

Asked why Ye­sodey Hato­rah has listed only seven boys for the end of the GCSE year, Rabbi Pin­ter ex­plained: “There are about 750 girls and only about 250 boys in the Ye­sodey Hato­rah schools. How­ever, the sec­ondary boys’ school is go­ing through a re­struc­tur­ing, with a new head­mas­ter, and when it is fin­ished the num­bers will in­crease.”

He felt that the poverty that af­fected many fam­i­lies in the Charedi com­mu­nity did not af­fect the ed­u­ca­tion of the com­mu­nity’s chil­dren.

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