Ofsted has slammed an independent Jewish girls school in Hackney for teaching creationism in science and geography lessons, censoring books, omitting English language books from the library, and preventing pupils from sitting their GCSE exams.
Humanists UK, which has long campaigned for more stringent regulations on independent religious schools, has expressed alarm that the most recent Ofsted report for Bnois Jerusalem Girls School uncovered a range of serious and significant failures at the school. It has called on the Government to investigate and take steps to close the school.
The Ofsted inspection report found pupils’ fiction books are censored and redacted and that there are no English language books in the school library.
The report also added: ‘Leaders have limited the scope of the curriculum to make it fit with Orthodox Jewish teaching. Text, photographs and illustrations in geography textbooks are redacted. Pupils learn about creationism, according to religious teachings, in the kodesh curriculum. However, this is also taught in geography and science, which is not appropriate. Pupils do not learn anything about the scientific theories about the origins of life.
‘Pupils do not take any external GCSE or other qualifications, because leaders would have to break examination regulations in order to censor the papers. Pupils take internal school examinations using past-paper questions. Subjects are graded and the school issues certificates. However, these have no value outside of the community. Pupils do not have access to meaningful qualifications and so they are not prepared for life in modern Britain.’
Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Ruth Wareham commented: ‘It is hugely concerning that pupils in this school are being systematically denied their right to a broad and balanced education, and that a school which censors geography books, has no English language books on its library shelves, and refuses to allow pupils to sit their GSCEs is permitted to continue operating as a school.
‘What’s more, because school leaders prevented pupils from speaking to inspectors, they were unable to ascertain whether even basic safeguarding is effective, meaning that pupils attending the school are most likely at risk.
‘We urge the Government to seriously investigate this shockingly inadequate institution and take steps to close it. The Government must ensure the welfare of these children is protected and that they get the education they deserve.’
For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Press Manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 020 7324 3078 or 07393 344293.
Read more about our work on private faith schools
Read more about our past investigations into Charedi Jewish schools censoring examination questions
Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.