Three Charedi schools in London may be in-line for closure after Ofsted inspectors published damning reports about a lack of progress, saying children are “not developing effectively” in several areas.
In the latest round of highly critical inspections, schools refused to let children talk to female inspectors, provided books with women’s images erased and refused to teach about different sexualities or cultures, with pupils left thinking “the role of women is to clean the house, look after children and cook”.
Reports published last week follow unannounced inspections this academic year, with visits to Talmud Torah Yetev Lev and Beis Aharon, two boys’ primary schools in Stamford Hill, and Talmud Torah D’Chasidei Gur, which caters for up to 800 Satmar Chasidic children.
Officers said Talmud Torah Yetev Lev – deemed ‘inadequate’ in 2014 – was still “not meeting standards” after safeguarding concerns were raised last year, and after its response was judged “unsatisfactory” by the government. Following a September visit, inspectors said the school was now guilty of “a serious breach of the safeguarding and welfare requirements”.
They said teachers “do not plan activities to develop learning”, and young children “still do not learn to speak, read or write in English”.
They added: “Standards are still not met in relation to the quality of the curriculum,” with “significant weaknesses in the teaching of secular studies”. They further criticised the quality of teaching as “inadequate” and said resources were “of poor quality and quantity,” with “pupils’ learning… not routinely checked”.
The report, which is publicly available online, even says that school leaders “told inspectors that they have no intention of providing pupils with experiences to enable them to acquire an appreciation of and respect for differences between people, based on culture, religion, sex and sexual orientation”.
It adds: “Pupils are not given sufficient opportunities to interact with others outside of their close community… Inspectors found reading books where images of females had either been erased or radically changed. Leaders also refused to allow pupils to talk to the female inspector on a formal basis.”
Likewise, inspectors visiting Beis Aharon last month said in a report published on Tuesday that it “continues to fail a significant number of the independent school standards,” allocating only one hour per day to secular (ie non-religious) studies, despite school leaders saying they teach “a broad and balanced curriculum”.
They said the children were “unable to show mutual respect and tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs,” that “younger pupils struggle to speak English” and that children adhere to a vision of women at home and in the kitchen. “Pupils universally consider that the role of women is to ‘look after children, clean the house and cook’, while men ‘go to work’.”
The report adds that pupils have “limited knowledge of British law and democracy,” and that the school “still does not promote knowledge of or mutual respect for different faiths,” with the word ‘Christmas’ “crossed out whenever it appears…”
Meanwhile Talmud Torah D’Chasidei Gur, which relocated last year and counts 794 boys aged between three and 13, was downgraded to ‘inadequate,’ having only recently been ranked as ‘outstanding’ by a strictly Orthodox inspector. It was told to “urgently tackle” safety concerns after inspectors said leaders “have not checked the premises now occupied thoroughly enough.”
The report also added that “arrangements for safeguarding are ineffective” and urged improvements in several areas.