A private faith school has received a damning Ofsted report, in large part because it teaches a narrow curriculum – including creationism taught as fact – and prevents pupils from taking public examinations such as GCSEs due to claims that such exams cause ‘offence’. Humanists UK, which campaigns for an education system free of religious bias, said it was alarmed by the findings.
The school, Bnois Jerusalem Girls School in North London, failed to heed the recommendations of the previous Ofsted report in 2018, which strongly criticised the school for censoring materials. Such censorship included covering up images in textbooks that were deemed ‘not to be in line with the traditions and religious teaching of the Jewish faith’. Furthermore, in 2018 it was noted that the school did not provide pupils with any information about other religions or worldviews, and did not encourage respect for protected characteristics under the Equality Act.
The 2022 Ofsted inspection report, which again resulted in an ‘inadequate’ rating and a failure to meet the Independent School Standards, said that pupils ‘continue to lack readiness for life in modern British society’. The report noted that, in addition to public exams being unavailable:
- Creationism was being taught as fact;
- Science lessons contained no references to sexual reproduction or scientific theories for the origin of life;
- Relationships and sex education was extremely limited, with all parents exercising their right of withdrawal at secondary level;
- There was no careers advice or guidance – pupils were simply expected to go to a seminary after leaving school.
The school must now take action to remedy all of the points raised by the inspectors. However, the law is weak on making sure that private schools comply with such requests from inspectors. Many private faith schools continually fail to meet minimum standards for registration from the Department for Education (DfE), with little action taken.
Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Robert Cann said:
‘This report is alarming reading and reflects poorly both on the school and the Department for Education – which has the power to shut such schools down. The school’s management has clearly learnt little from the previous inspection report – or even worse, has willfully ignored it. It should be a condition of any registered school that pupils are prepared for life in modern Britain, and encouraged to gain qualifications that would permit them to thrive in whatever future career they decide to pursue. It is appalling that in 2023 religious dogma can be used to pull the wool over children’s eyes in this manner.
‘By continually failing inspections, the evidence is clear that this school doesn’t care about providing its pupils with the basics of an inclusive curriculum. It is time for the DfE to take action: threaten closure for this particular school unless it gets its house in order urgently.’
For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at email@example.com or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.
Read more about our work on private faith schools.
Read the 2022 Ofsted report for Bnois Jerusalem Girls School.
Read the 2018 Ofsted report for Bnois Jerusalem Girls School.
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.