The Board of Deputies and a charity that provides services, support and strategy to Jewish schools across the UK have welcomed an Ofsted consultation on how schools balance good standards of education and how they choose to teach pupils.
The Partnerships for Jewish Schools (PaJeS) said the consultation, launched today and lasting until 4 April, said it was “a benefit to our society to have a variety of schools offering differing approaches towards education”.
And the Board of Deputies said it would “submit a detailed response which reflects the needs of our community”.
The Board added: “We are examining the Ofsted consultation in detail and will submit a detailed response which reflects the needs of our community.
“For mainstream Jewish schools, the slight strengthening of elements around equality and diversity, as well as relationships and sex education will pose little difficulty.
“Charedi schools will likely continue to be discomfited by the direction of travel, but most of those schools are independent schools and the Independent School standards have not yet changed.”
PaJeS said: “Ofsted have to find the right balance between ensuring that every school delivers a good standard of education and giving schools the freedom to educate in a manner best suited to their students and educational ethos.
“A one size fits all approach cannot work within a school and certainly not for the body inspecting schools.”
PaJeS noted that the consultation included some “very positive initiatives, including the creation of new categories for personal development and behaviour and attitudes.
“This will be helpful in enabling schools to meet the requirements of teaching relationship and sex education, which should now be more clearly defined.”
However, it added, it was important schools do not feel stifled by these guidelines. “The Department for Education should be encouraging schools to explore innovative curriculum models that can better meet the needs of children.
“The role of Ofsted should be focused on ensuring standards are met and satisfactory outcomes achieved, but not to dictate methodology of delivery. Many school leaders will consider some of these proposals as having crossed this line,” said PaJes.
Ofsted said it was proposing a shift that will “re-balance inspection to make sure that young people are being taught the best of what has been thought and said.
“Instead of taking exam results and test data at face value, Ofsted will look at how a nursery, school, college or other provider’s results have been achieved – whether they are the result of broad and rich learning, or gaming and cramming.”
It added: “Shifting the emphasis away from performance data will empower schools to always put the child first and actively discourage negative practices such as off-rolling [getting rid of under-performing pupils].”
Ofsted head Amanda Spielman said: “The substance that has all children and young people exposed to the best that has been thought and said, achieve highly and set up to succeed.
“And the integrity that makes sure every child and young person is treated as an individual with potential to be unlocked, and staff as experts in their subject or field, not just as data gatherers and process managers. And above all that you are rewarded for doing the right thing.”