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Inadequate private faith schools failed by Ofsted for refusing to discuss LGBT people

Schools inspectorate Ofsted has failed two Charedi Jewish boys’ schools for refusing to cover LGBT content or even allow inspectors to discuss understanding of sexual orientation or gender identity with pupils. Humanists UK – which has long campaigned for fully LGBT inclusive lessons in relationships and sex education for pupils in all schools – has expressed alarm that private religious schools are continuing to erase LGBT people from their curricula, with very little being done to give children attending these schools proper access to information in this area.

The Gateshead Cheder Primary School in Gateshead and the Yeshivah Ohr Torah School in Salford were both subject to monitoring inspections in December after failing to meet the independent school standards – basic legal standards that all private schools in England must meet in order to stay open – at previous inspections.

All schools are legally required to teach that LGBT people are entitled to respect and equal treatment under the law. But in spite of this, the Ofsted report relating to Yeshivah Ohr Torah School says inspectors were told ‘there could be no discussion with pupils to explore their understanding of sexual orientation and gender reassignment’ because leaders ‘felt that such discussion was not in keeping with the school’s faith and beliefs’. Similarly, inspectors visiting the Gateshead Cheder Primary School – which actually caters for boys aged 3-16 – did not discuss LGBT issues ‘at the request of the headteacher’ who also confirmed ‘the school does not discuss these issues with pupils.’ Inspectors also noted that ‘older pupils had no understanding of stereotypes or the legal status of a marriage, as required by the relationships and sex education (RSE) and health education curriculum’.

Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Dr Ruth Wareham commented: 

‘LGBT people come from all walks of life and many are born into religious communities. It is therefore vital for the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people in these communities to learn that LGBT people are entitled to equal respect and treatment under the law.

‘Ofsted has made it clear that, in line with the Equality Act, all schools are expected to teach respect for all the protected characteristics, not simply erase all mention of sections of the population based on religious prejudice. But far more needs to be done to enforce this expectation, since the schools failing their pupils in this regard are nevertheless continuing to operate for many years with impunity. We therefore urge the Government to remove faith-based carve outs to the content of RSE and further empower Ofsted to make schools cover LGBT issues or face closure.’

Notes:

For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Dr Ruth Wareham at ruth@humanists.uk or phone 020 7324 3000 or 07725 110 860.

Read our most recent article on Catholic school resources which say ‘man was created to be the initiator in sexual relationships’.

Read our article on the legal challenge to LGBT inclusive teaching thrown out by the High Court.

Read our piece on new Ofsted guidance that says schools must teach respect for LGBT people.

Read our piece on the introduction of relationships and sex education in England.

Read more about our work on relationships and sex education.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 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.

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