Charedi school chair accuses Ofsted of ‘obsessive persistent attacks’

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Charedi school chair accuses Ofsted of ‘obsessive persistent attacks’

Theo Bibelman of Yesoday Hatorah Senior Girl’s School attacks the chief inspector of the education watchdog for targeting the community

Yesodey Hatorah's Senior Girls School in Stamford Hill
Yesodey Hatorah's Senior Girls School in Stamford Hill

The chair of governors at one of Stamford Hill’s largest Orthodox schools has accused the Chief Inspector of Ofsted of “obsessive persistent attacks” against the community, after she said his school provided girls with an “extremely limited education”.

Theo Bibelman of Yesoday Hatorah Senior Girl’s School ripped into Ofsted head Amanda Spielman after her comments during a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Wednesday.

In a letter to PAC chair Meg Hillier MP, he said Spielman had an “ill-informed view that the pupils at our school continued to fail to receive a rich education,” which he described as “absurd and quite frankly, false”.

In 2006 the school was graded “outstanding” and in 2014 it was listed as “good,” but after a damning inspection in March last year it was categorised as “inadequate,” despite high grades in English and Maths.

At the time, Bibelman publicly railed against a “secularist plot” after inspectors blasted the school for not teaching the girls “key information” such as the basics of reproduction in science lessons.

Amanda Spielman

Inspectors also said the school’s “leaders do not prepare pupils well for life in British society,” adding that the redaction of books like ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and ‘Elizabethan England’ was “detrimental to pupils’ learning…pupils do not have equal opportunities for learning compared to pupils elsewhere”.

They were particularly scathing about the school’s redaction of Helpline numbers, saying this “prevents pupils protecting themselves, because they are unable to seek independent, confidential advice if required”.

Spielman told the PAC that the school censored texts which would be “absolutely normal for a teenager to see in any book available in this country,” but Bibelman accused the Chief Inspector of singling out Yesoadah Hatorah.

“That Ms. Spielman chose to name our school without prompt… speaks volumes and indeed confirms many, if not all our concerns,” he said.

“What is beyond our comprehension is why Ms. Spielman felt it appropriate to name our school specifically and yet refuse to disclose the name of any other religious school for fear of breaching confidentiality.”

He added: “Ms. Spielman’s obsessive and persistent attacks on the Orthodox Jewish community are a testimony to the inflexible and uncompromising attitude of Ofsted and the body’s total lack of understanding of the basic tenets that uphold our culture and community.

“It is deplorable that a person in Ms. Spielman’s position has used such a public platform to perpetuate an ignorant and false impression of our community, when our community had no opportunity to defend ourselves.”

Help perform the greatest mitzvah: save a life

While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.

That's why Jewish News, the leading source of news and opinion for the entire UK community, is throwing its full weight behind UNICEF’s VaccinAid campaign by using this platform usually reserved for encouraging donations towards our own journalism to instead urge our readers around the globe to perform the greatest mitzvah: saving a life.

We have never before done this for any charity fundraiser but it's hard to recall a campaign that affects so many people, and indeed an entire planet aching for a return to normality. Just like the Chief Rabbi and Rachel Riley, we hope to boost the mission to deliver two billion vaccines, 165 million treatments and 900 million test kits around the world by the end of this year.

Please donate as much as you can, in the spirit of the Talmudic sages: “to save one life is to save the world entire”

read more: