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Strictly Orthodox Jewish inspectors dropped by Ofsted following BHA exposé

Inconsistencies in the inspection of Jewish schools had been revealed by the BHA

Inconsistencies in the inspection of Jewish schools were revealed by the BHA

Following research published earlier this year by the British Humanist Association (BHA) into the inconsistency of Ofsted’s rating of strictly Orthodox Charedi Jewish schools, two inspectors have this week been removed from the list of Ofsted’s approved inspectors. The two inspectors, Rabbis Chanan Tomlin and Jonathan Yodaiken, had previously been found by the BHA to consistently award Orthodox Jewish schools higher ratings than were given by non-Jewish inspectors, leading to doubts over both the consistency of inspections and the impartiality of inspectors. The BHA, which wrote to Ofsted at the time to express its concern at the findings, has welcomed the efforts to improve their assessments of Jewish schools.

In June, the BHA published research examining Ofsted reports of a number of independent Charedi boys’ schools during the period 2007-2014. Alarmingly, it was found that Charedi schools were rated as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ 71% of the time when inspected by a member of the Jewish community (either Chanan Tomlin or Jonathan Yodaiken), but only 22% of the time when inspected by a non-Charedi inspector.

Despite writing to Ofsted back in June, the BHA has yet to receive a response. However, speaking to the Jewish Chronicle yesterday, an Ofsted spokesperson claimed the decision to remove the two inspectors from the approved list was taken with the aim of ‘ensuring inspection of even higher quality and greater consistency’.

The findings reinforced long-standing concerns voiced by the BHA over the inspection of Charedi schools. Speaking at an All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group (APPHG) meeting in December, a former pupil of a Charedi school told MPs and peers that Ofsted inspectors had not always been independent from the schools they were inspecting. And in October last year, the BHA complained to Ofsted about the decision to rate Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls’ School in Hackney as ‘good’, despite the fact that the schools had been advising pupils to ignore exam questions on evolution and had previously stated that teaching about evolution and homosexuality was against its ethos. It was also revealed earlier this year that the two schools in North London that were banning mothers from driving their children to school had similarly received ‘good’ ratings by Charedi inspectors in their most recent Ofsted inspections.

Commenting on the news, BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Jay Harman said ‘We are glad that Ofsted is seemingly taking steps to shore up the accuracy and consistency of their inspections, particularly when it comes to “faith” schools. Of course, regardless of whether or not the two inspectors were dropped as a result of our findings, it is vital that the schools involved are given fresh inspections so there is clarity over the extent to which they are meeting the required standards.’

Notes

For further comment of information, please contact Jay Harman on 07970 393 680 or jay@humanism.org.uk.

Read the BHA’s previous news item ‘BHA reveals worrying inconsistencies in Ofsted inspections of Charedi schools’: https://humanism.org.uk/2015/06/20/bha-reveals-worrying-inconsistencies-in-ofsted-inspections-of-charedi-schools/

Read more about the BHA’s work on ‘faith’ schools: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/faith-schools/

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

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