Pupils at a strictly Orthodox boys’ primary school in Stamford Hill have told Ofsted inspectors that teachers and staff “manage behaviour” by pinching, smacking and slapping children.
The damning details of “inappropriate physical contact” were recorded by inspectors in their report, published this week, following their unannounced visit to the 1,200-pupil Talmud Torah Yetev Lev last month.
“Of greatest concern is that pupils reported that physical sanctions are adopted by staff in the event of pupil misbehaviour, including cheek pinching, smacking and slapping,” they said of the Satmar school.
Inspectors’ safeguarding concerns have now been referred to Hackney Council, whose officers will consider the report, which also found the school to be ‘Inadequate’ in every category and noted “an area filled with rubbish and large holes in the playground”.
Ofsted said “staff use inappropriate methods of discipline that are harmful to pupils’ physical and emotional wellbeing,” adding that the use of smacking and slapping for punishment was “of significant concern”.
The school, which is located on Cazenove Road, teaches boys as young as two years old and charges £10,000 for early-years children.
Elsewhere, they described the school’s leadership as “inadequate,” oversight as “limited,” resources as “poor” and the curriculum as “narrow,” while recording pupils standing on tables and running through corridors.
In addition, inspectors said the school had more than 1,200 pupils are on roll but that “this is more than twice the number that the school is registered to take. The owner has bought another building to prevent overcrowding, but “has not notified the Department for Education that this building is in use”.
On the plus side, they said the religious studies curriculum “encourages pupils’ strong moral values and contributes well to their personal development,” adding that “pupils behave well during lessons” and “appear keen to learn”.
Ofsted has been accused by Orthodox school leaders of being part of a “secularist plot” in the past year, following a series of downgrades for reasons including schools’ unwillingness to teach children about people who identify as different sexualities and genders.
During their visit to Talmud Torah Yetev Lev last month, inspectors said they were told not to ask pupils about characteristics protected under the Equality Act, adding that religious studies take up all but 90 minutes of lesson time.
The school has been approached for comment.