Charedi leaders welcome new guidance on school inspections
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Charedi leaders welcome new guidance on school inspections

Body representing 80 strictly-Orthodox schools respond to new rules on how inspectors can speak to students - now allowing an adult to be present when they interact

Classroom
Classroom

Strictly Orthodox Jewish educators have welcomed the government’s new guidance on how school inspectors should talk to pupils on inspection, as it now allows an adult to be present when they do.

Chinuch UK, which represents 80 Charedi schools, including independent schools, academies and grant-maintained schools, gave its verdict after the national inspectorate Ofsted outlined what will and will not be appropriate.

The issue became a sore point in relations following several recent downgrades of Charedi schools, during which leaders complained of inspectors asking children questions they deemed inappropriate in a faith school setting.

The guidance, issued on Thursday, outlines how Ofsted inspectors should talk to pupils during their visits, when they are charged with gathering evidence about the school and judging whether the relevant regulations are being met.

Of particular sensitivity to Charedi school leaders has been the assessment of teaching about characteristics protected under the Equality Act 2010, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) issues.

“We recognise that some school leaders do not wish inspectors to ask pupils certain questions, for example about LGBT+ issues,” Ofsted said.

“If a school requests that inspectors do not speak to pupils about a topic that the school reasonably believes is sensitive for its pupils, inspectors will not ask pupils questions about it. Before speaking to any pupils, inspectors will offer assurance to school leaders about any concerns they may have.”

In secondary schools, pupils are required by law to be taught about LGBT+ families and issues, in line with Department for Education guidance, while primary schools must legally consider age-appropriate teaching of LGBT+ issues “through consultation with parents and after considering pupils’ religious backgrounds”.

Ofsted said: “If a secondary school does not allow inspectors to speak to pupils about these issues, inspectors will not be able to demonstrate that the school is meeting its obligations under the guidance.

“This will have consequences for the personal development judgement, the leadership and management judgement and compliance with any relevant independent school standards.”

The outcome “recognises that parents in some faith communities are nervous about their children speaking to inspectors,” said a Chinuch UK spokeswoman.

“Over a number of years there have been several occasions in the Charedi community when inspectors’ conversations with pupils have led to a loss of trust in Ofsted by the community. This new guidance represents positive progress.”

The document requires that inspectors, before starting an inspection, agree with school leaders how they will speak to children and what subjects will and will not be covered. It also clarifies that adults may be present whilst inspectors speak to pupils on a range of topics including potentially sensitive topics but excluding safeguarding.

The guidance also states that inspectors will not speak to pupils without another adult present if parents or the pupils themselves do not consent to this.

“We thank Ofsted for engaging with this issue and hope that by continuing to work together, trust can be rebuilt and the difficulties surrounding this subject can be put behind us,” said the spokeswoman. “Going forward we hope that inspections will be carried out successfully for the benefit of pupils and the entire school community.”

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments