Every student at Charedi school opts out of sex education

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Every student at Charedi school opts out of sex education

Ofsted report says Ateres Girls' High School's approach 'remains only to teach pupils in general terms to be respectful of others, including those with ‘different lifestyles’'

School children in a classroom.   Photo credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
School children in a classroom. Photo credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

All pupils at a strictly-Orthodox school in Gateshead opted out of the government’s sexual education scheme according to a recent Ofsted report.

Ateres Girls High School “does not meet all of the independent school standards that were checked”, the inspectorate said, following a visit in April of this year.

Its report outlined the school’s “curriculum planning for pupils’ personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) development had some shortcomings” and that its approach “remains only to teach pupils in general terms to be respectful of others, including those with ‘different lifestyles’.”

Ateres Girls High School, which teaches 246 girls aged 11-16, prepared a “separate” PSHE programme and has “consulted with parents about the content to be taught.” The Ofsted report said: “Following consultation, all parents have exercised their right to withdraw their child from the teaching of sex education.”

Pupils are “not being prepared fully for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life in British society”, according to the inspectorate.

Ian Mearns, MP for Gateshead told Jewish News: “I have regular meetings with the Jewish Community Council in Gateshead and I know that almost all, if not all of the community were concerned about the imposition of age appropriate sex and relationships education in all of the communities independent schools.

I relayed these concerns on behalf of the community and its schools, to Department of Education Ministers prior to the introduction of this requirement.”

The report was criticised by Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Dr Ruth Wareham, who called it “deeply concerning that every pupil at this school has been denied a vital part of their education merely because of their parents’ beliefs.”

She claimed “whistleblowers from the Charedi community have told us how difficult it is for members to say anything that contradicts community leaders. As a result, we know of cases where pressure has been put on parents to remove their children from sex education in large numbers so the school does not have to provide it.”

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: