Of­sted blast for ‘driv­ing ban school’

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY SI­MON ROCKER

A CHA­SIDIC school that was at the cen­tre of the driv­ing ban con­tro­versy ear­lier this year has been crit­i­cised by in­spec­tors for not teach­ing chil­dren about sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

Of­sted said the lead­ers of the Beis Malka Girls’ School in Hack­ney, north Lon­don, con­sid­ered that their faith took prece­dence over the stan­dards re­quired of in­de­pen­dent schools.

In spring Belz lead­ers caused up­roar when they threat­ened to ban pupils from their schools in Lon­don if their moth­ers drove cars as it went against their tra­di­tions of mod­esty.

But the schools with­drew the pro­posed pol­icy af­ter the Equal­ity and Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion warned that it would be illegal.

In a re­port pub­lished last week fol­low­ing an emer­gency in­spec­tion in sum­mer, Of­sted noted that the girls knew about “a range of dif­fer­ent faiths and be­liefs”.

How­ever, in­spec­tors said, “the head­teacher ac­cu­rately pre­dicted the pupils’ lack of knowl­edge about ho­mo­pho­bic bul­ly­ing be­cause they ‘didn’t know that word’”.

Talk­ing about sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and pref­er­ence was pro­hib­ited be­cause that would con­tra­vene the school’s ethos. “The head­teacher com­mented: ‘If we had to teach that, we would have to close as an Ortho­dox school,’” in­spec­tors re­ported.

Of­sted added that ca­reer ad­vice was lim­ited and did not “help pupils to ful­fil their po­ten­tial” — 28 of those leav­ing af­ter GCSEs were go­ing to sem­i­nary.

In its pre­vi­ous in­spec­tion in 2013, Beis Malka — which has 479 pupils aged from three to 16 — was judged a good school. But its ap­pli­ca­tions for state aid have been re­jected.

While the girls took part in vol­un­teer­ing­pro­grammes,Of­ste­dob­served,there was “in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to demon­strate that pupils are able to con­trib­ute pos­i­tively and more widely to so­ci­ety out­side their faith com­mu­nity”.

Beis Malka should en­sure that teach­ing “does not un­der­mine fun­da­men­tal Bri­tish val­ues”, in­spec­tors stated.

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