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Private faith school still open after being failed seven times in eight years

A private faith school in London has been graded ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted after inspectors found that it teaches ‘a narrow curriculum’, ‘prepares pupils inadequately for their future lives’, and prevents pupils from learning about ‘culture, belief and lifestyles beyond their own community’. The report stated that ‘leaders continue not to ensure that all the independent school standards are met’.  

Humanists UK has reiterated its calls for tougher action against faith schools that show consistent unwillingness to meet the required standards, arguing that for the sake of the children within them, they must be shut down.

Getters Talmud Torah in Hackney has been graded ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted in all but one of its nine inspections since 2008. In 2011 it received a ‘satisfactory’ grade from one of the two Charedi inspectors who were subsequently exposed by a Humanists UK investigation for giving disproportionately positive reports to Charedi schools. The two inspectors have since been dropped by Ofsted, and every single one of the Charedi schools they inspected have since been deemed ‘inadequate’.

Getters was reportedly threatened with closure by the Department for Education earlier this year, but the school is said to have appealed the decision and remains open. The inspectors’ findings include:

  • ‘Pupils spend most of the school day studying the faith curriculum, which is devoted to religious, cultural and historical study of Judaism.’
  • ‘There is no teaching of subjects other than mathematics, English and the faith curriculum.’
  • ‘Pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural education does not provide adequate opportunity for them to learn about cultures and views beyond their own faith and immediate community. Pupils do not learn about British institutions and services in sufficient depth to prepare them adequately for their future lives.’
  • ‘Leaders encourage and expect pupils to show respect for others regardless of their belief. However, they do not teach pupils enough about the cultures and lifestyles of others. As a result, pupils’ respect is based on obedience rather than an informed choice.’

Remarkably, the school sought to excuse its narrow curriculum by telling inspectors that ‘parents signed an agreement with the school indicating that they [the parents] would be responsible for all aspects of the secular curriculum except for mathematics and English’.

Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Jay Harman commented, ‘There are faith schools in this country, both private and state-funded, that aren’t merely failing to meet acceptable standards, they are ideologically opposed to meeting them. But despite being quite open about this, and despite having been repeatedly failed by Ofsted over a number of years, the schools in question have not been shut down.

‘In this particular case – and there are many more like it – there are children who have effectively been through their entire primary education at an inadequate school. We urge ministers and officials at the Department for Education to consider whether or not they’d accept this for their children, and if not, why they are being so slow to act.’

Notes

For further comment or information please contact Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Jay Harman on jay@humanism.org.uk or 0207 324 3078.

Read the full inspection report: https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report/provider/ELS/132041

Read more about Humanists UK’s work on private faith schools: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/faith-schools/private-faith-schools/

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

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