The Department for Education has issued enforcement letters to two independent Jewish schools. The letters, issued to TTD Gur School and Bnois Jerusalem Girls School in London, require both schools to cease admitting new pupils immediately.
Recent inspections have found a number of failings relating to teaching about women and those of other religions and beliefs, and teaching creationism as science. The Independent School Standards (ISS) make clear that all schools must not ‘undermine the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs’. Where these values are being ignored, the Department for Education has a responsibility to protect children and manage education settings appropriately. The ISS also states that ‘Independent schools may teach creationism as part of a belief system but it should not be presented as having a similar or superior evidence base to scientific theories’.
The inspection at TTD Gur School carried out in March 2021 commented on the failure to ‘include opportunities to learn about the protected characteristics set out in the Equality Act 2010, including the roles of women’ and that the school leaders ‘could not show how they promote mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs’. Similarly, the inspection of Bnois Jerusalem Girls School also from March this year noted that there were ‘very few opportunities for pupils to learn about other cultures and faiths’ and there had been no improvement in this area since the previous inspection in 2018. It also identifies that ‘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’.
Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented:
‘That these schools are allowed to continue to operate is cause for serious concern. The significant failings which have resulted in these enforcement orders have been ongoing for some time. Banning admissions does nothing to protect the children already enrolled in these schools from poor and unbalanced education, or help them receive appropriate exposure to different cultures and beliefs.
‘The Department for Education must act to close these schools when there is such blatant disregard to regulatory requirements. It must ensure all independent schools deliver a curriculum that is consistent with legal school standards’.
For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07815 589636.
Read our article on private creationist school closure.
Read our article about illegal schools operating during lockdown.
Read our article on the Government relaunching its consultation on tightening law on illegal schools.
Read our article on the lack of engagement in safeguarding from unregistered Jewish schools in Hackney.
Read more about our work on illegal schools.
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