Of­sted in­spec­tors drop in on JFS cam­pus with­out warn­ing

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY SI­MON ROCKER

THE COUN­TRY’S largest Jewish school was the sub­ject of an unan­nounced in­spec­tion from Of­sted ear­lier this month, the JC has learned.

But nei­ther JFS nor the in­spec­tion ser­vice would di­vulge the rea­son for the two-day visit.

Of­sted would say only that the in­spec­tion had been prompted by “con­cerns” it had re­ceived.

A spokesman for the school said that it was not at lib­erty to dis­close the pur­pose of the in­spec­tion un­til the find­ings were pub­lished, which would be likely in the first half of Septem­ber.

Schools are nor­mally alerted in ad­vance of a reg­u­lar visit from the in­spec­tion ser­vice.

But Of­sted re­cently an­nounced the in­creased use of sur­prise in­spec­tions fol­low­ing its in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­leged Is­lamic ex­trem­ism in several state schools in Birm­ing­ham.

One veteran Jewish ed­u­ca­tion­ist, who did not wish to be named, said the in­spec­tion “does seem very strange” and spec­u­lated that there could be a knock-on ef­fect from the Birm­ing­ham in­quiry.

“None of the Birm­ing­ham schools are faith schools,” he said. “What is a prob­lem for faith schools is that we are be­ing tarred with the same brush.”

In its last two reg­u­lar Of­sted in­spec­tions, in 2006 and 2009, JFS was ranked an out­stand­ing school — and it has con­tin­ued to per­form well aca­dem­i­cally.

Pre­vi­ously, the pol­icy had been for out­stand­ing schools to be in­spected only ev­ery five years and for­mer Edu- cation Sec­re­tary Michael Gove had favoured a lighter in­spec­tion regime for the best schools.

Mean­while, a fresh re­port into the Birm­ing­ham schools af­fair was pub­lished this week by Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mis­sioner Peter Clarke, who found ev­i­dence of a con­certed at­tempt to in­tro­duce “an ag­gres­sive and intolerant Is­lamic ethos” into a num­ber of non-faith state schools.

Apart from ref­er­ences to hard­line preach­ers and ho­mo­pho­bic views, on two oc­ca­sions “of­fen­sive im­ages that can only be in­ter­preted as anti-Is­raeli” were posted on a web dis­cus­sion group.

In one school, Mr Clarke re­ported, “a three year-old in nurs­ery said that his fam­ily was poor be­cause, ‘All the Jews and Zion­ists have all the money’.”

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