The National Association of Orthodox Jewish Schools says the government has approached haredi schools negatively, creating a “climate of hostility” and also claims the government is discriminating against haredi schools.
The Guardian reports:
A group representing Orthodox Jewish schools has said Ofsted [the British government's Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills] created a “climate of hostility” during visits by inspectors, with pupils interrogated about sex, relationships and lifestyle during snap inspections carried out recently.
The National Association of Jewish Orthodox Schools (Najos) has written to the education secretary, Nicky Morgan, and Ofsted in protest at the questioning. Ofsted said its staff were following national guidelines, some of which were introduced in the wake of the Trojan Horse scandal involving Islamic influence in schools in Birmingham.
The Najos letter complains that Jewish schools are being disproportionately targeted by Ofsted for inspections, and that “Jewish values and ethos are being questioned by inspectors in a climate of hostility” designed to unsettle pupils.
“The targeting of Jewish schools is unacceptable and we feel this suggests another agenda which is extremely worrying, particularly in the current climate where anti-Semitism is on the rise and our community is placed under attack,” the letter by Jonathan Rabson, executive director of Najos, stated.
An Ofsted spokesman said: “We have written to Najos to respond to their concerns and to assure them that Ofsted has not been disproportionately targeting Jewish schools for unannounced inspections. Nor are we questioning Jewish values and ethos. Inspectors must, however, ask questions that probe the extent to which pupils are prepared for the next stage in their education or for employment and for life in modern Britain. Inspectors are asked to use age-appropriate questions to test children’s understanding and tolerance of lifestyles that may be different to their own.”
Last month Ofsted carried out no-notice inspections at three Orthodox Jewish schools, including Beis Yaakov high school, a girls secondary school in Salford. Pupils were said by staff to have been questioned about their use of the internet and their views on homosexuality.
Yaakov pupils are required to sign a pledge that they will not use the internet outside of school, and the school has suspended pupils for sending emails.
During a recent inspection, nine-year olds at an Orthodox Jewish primary school were asked whether they knew how babies were made and whether they knew any homosexuals, Jewish News reported.
“The girls felt bullied into answering their questions and the pupils and staff were left feeling traumatised,” said Rabson, who is seeking a meeting with Ofsted leadership to address the concerns.
The Jewish education community was already unhappy about Ofsted’s decision last month to downgrade JFS in London – the largest Jewish school in Europe – from outstanding to “requires improvement”, Ofsted’s second-lowest grade.
After another no-notice inspections, Yesodey Hatorah senior girls school, which takes pupils from the ultra-Orthodox community of north London, saw its rating fall from outstanding to good.
The experience of the Jewish schools mirrors that of a conservative Muslim primary school in Luton this year, where angry parents confronted inspectors over their questioning of children regarding gay marriage.
The use of snap inspections came in the wake of the Trojan Horse affair, alleging Islamic involvement in state schools in Birmingham, along with a government requirement for inspectors to judge attitudes to discrimination and exposure to British values.
A Catholic secondary school in Suffolk fell foul of the new regulations this month. Ofsted downgraded St Benedict’sin Bury St Edmunds after inspectors queried how it taught “the dangers of extremism and radicalisation”. The inspection report was later withdrawn by Ofsted.
What the Guardian report does not make clear is that all of thse haredi schools had broblems with basic secular education, not just tolerance questions like "do you know any homosexuals"?
Hasidic schools in the US (especially in New York) , Belgium and Israel are notorious for teaching zero or very little secular studies. Belgium has taken legal action against haredi schools as has Israel. New York has not, but that is seen as a byproduct of the massive corruption that permeates the state's political leadership and of the massive haredi bloc vote.