Council angry over JFS head’s claim it ‘failed’ students on safeguarding

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Council angry over JFS head’s claim it ‘failed’ students on safeguarding

It is understood senior figures within Brent Council reacted with "outrage" at comments made by former Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Former Ofsted Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw, who has taken over at JFS
Former Ofsted Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw, who has taken over at JFS

A major row has broken out after the new interim headteacher of JFS attempted to lay the blame on Brent Council for the school’s failings over the safeguarding of students.

Speaking to Jewish News on Tuesday, Sir Michael Wilshaw said mounting concerns at JFS “were swept under the carpet” and the local authority had “failed” students over safeguarding.

Wilshaw, ex chief inspector of Ofsted also claimed Europe’s largest Jewish secondary has already been improved in a matter of weeks, following the shock resignation of headteacher Rachel Fink at the end of May.

But it is understood that senior figures within Brent Council have reacted with “outrage” at the interim headteacher’s claims.

Sources within the local authority point to the 2016 Ofsted report into JFS, that was published during Wilshaw’s stint as chief executive with the official education inspectors.

They pointed to the fact that the 2016 report described safeguarding at JFS as “effective” and added that pupils “knew where to seek help” if needed.

They same sources also insisted it has been Brent who had intervened “very recently” to ask Ofsted to look at the school over safeguarding concerns.

One source added: “It is laughable to read Michael Wilshaw suggesting he has managed to turn a school around in a matter of weeks.

“Senior figures at Brent are meeting to decided how to respond to his comments, but the feeling is there are far bigger issues at stake here that Mr Wilshaw.”

Speaking to Jewish News, Wilshaw, who was chief inspector of Ofsted from 2012-16, identified the key issue as being a poor “culture and behaviour”, which was linked to safeguarding of students.

Saying the school’s culture has already been “transformed”, he insisted he was “not being arrogant and boastful”, but that “the corridors are calmer, the classrooms calmer, teachers are teaching, children are learning. And we’ve set up all sorts of systems in the school to improve the quality of our behaviour around around the place.”

Wilshaw also hit out at the local authority, Brent Council, for having “failed” to identify safeguarding concerns.

He said: “When they knew there were issues around safeguarding and mental health issues, they should have been in here monitoring the situation – well before Ofsted. The local council has failed this school, there is no question about that in my mind.”

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...


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.


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.


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.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso 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: