Pupils at a fee-paying Orthodox Jewish school in Stamford Hill consider the role of women is “to look after children, clean the house and cook”, according to Ofsted inspectors.
The inspectors visited Beis Aharon School last month, their second follow-up visit since a full inspection in November 2014, and found the school to be failing on multiple counts, including in the quality of education provided, and the welfare, health and safety of its pupils.
The £2,860-a-year independent school on Bethune Road, which teaches 347 boys aged three to 13, was criticised in an Ofsted report this week for “not promoting knowledge of or mutual respect for different faiths”.
Inspectors highlighted an instance where the word ‘Christmas’ had been crossed out wherever it appeared in a Year 4 reading book, as well as obscured images of women and girls with short sleeves, or of children swimming.
“The school continues not to prepare pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life in modern Britain,” said the report, adding that “pupils continue to hold very narrow views about the role of women in society”.
Pupils were found to be working “well below” their age expectation, yet told inspectors that the work was “not hard”. Only one hour a day was allocated to non-religious subjects, such as geography and history.
“While pupils are polite to visitors, they are still unable to show mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs because their knowledge of how people are different and of other faiths is very limited,” the report said.
Commenting on the gap between the school’s ethos and Ofsted’s requirements, Mr Joseph Lipschitz, chair of the Beis Aharon Trust Ltd, is quoted in the report as saying: ‘[We will] try to come around, but what can we do about it? We are doing the best we can.’
Yetev Lev, another independent Orthodox Jewish school in Stamford Hill, has also been criticised by Ofsted.
The school, which is the largest of its type in Stamford Hill with 794 pupils on its books aged three to 13, teaches most of its lessons in Yiddish.
Inspected last September, the school’s narrow religious focus was found to be impeding pupils’ ability to speak, read and write in English.
Reading books at the school were found to have images of females erased or changed, whilst pupils were prohibited from speaking to a female Ofsted inspector.
The school’s senior leadership told Ofsted that the school has “no intention of providing pupils with experiences to enable them to acquire an appreciation of and respect for differences between people, based on culture, religion, sex and sexual orientation”.
Both schools have been approached for comment but had not responded by the time of publication.
/ 18 February, 2016