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.”
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