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State faith school caught redacting textbooks by Humanists UK rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted

A state faith school in London previously exposed by Humanists UK for redacting mentions of same-sex relationships and women’s rights in its textbooks has been rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted in a scathing report.

In March 2018 Humanists UK revealed that Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls’ School in London had been redacting sections of its textbooks to remove mentions of ‘homosexuals’, examples of women socialising with men, and pictures showing women’s shoulders and legs. The textbooks had been passed to Humanists UK by members of the community who are concerned at the content and scope of the education being provided to Charedi children. In 2014, Humanists UK helped expose the same school for censoring exam papers and insisting that all pupils be taught creationism as fact.

Ofsted’s latest regular inspection of the school, which came four years after it was rated ‘good’ despite the above, found it to be inadequate in a range of areas, as well as too beholden to religious influence. Commenting on the school’s policy of redacting its textbooks, the report states:

‘Pupils’ learning is restricted due to the prevalent redaction of textbooks, fiction and non-fiction texts in the library. Governors and the principal have enforced a policy of redacting texts, which limits pupils’ knowledge and understanding. For example, the majority of pictures in books on major artists such as Picasso had been blanked out. Photographs portraying men and women on the same page, for instance in a crowd, had been redacted. Paragraphs in English comprehension passages had been redacted. Whole chapters in some texts had been stuck together. For instance, in a text on Elizabethan England, leaders had redacted sections relating to the queen’s supremacy and the Puritan challenge. Staff had systematically gone through every book to blank out any bare skin on ankles, wrists or necks.’

The inspectors’ other findings include:

  • ‘Pupils’ spiritual development is focused narrowly on their own faith. Redaction of texts and information, and a narrow curriculum, restrict pupils’ knowledge and prevent them from learning about themselves, others and the world around them’
  • ‘Leaders do not encourage pupils’ respect for other people because they do not acknowledge some groups in society’
  • ‘Leaders deliberately restrict pupils’ access to advice and guidance about how to keep safe in the world, including the redaction of helpline numbers from books’
  • ‘Pupils do not receive impartial careers guidance that helps them to make informed choices about their academic needs and aspirations. Leaders deliberately restrict the options available to pupils’

Responding to Ofsted’s findings, Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Jay Harman said, ‘This is what happens when religion is given almost untrammelled influence over the education of children. The purpose of a school is to educate its pupils, promote their development and wellbeing, and ensure that when they leave the school gates, they are prepared for life in a modern, diverse society. The purpose of this school – and there are others like it – appears to be the entrenchment of a homophobic, misogynistic, intolerant, and isolationist ethos, designed to limit its pupils rather than allow them to flourish. It is a tragedy that so many children have been and are being subjected to schools of this kind. The Government must start closing them down.’

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 Ofsted inspection report: https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/provider/files/2781699/urn/133599.pdf

Read Humanists UK’s previous news item ‘State faith school redacts textbooks to remove mentions of “homosexuals” and women’s rights’: https://humanism.org.uk/2018/03/09/state-faith-school-redacts-textbooks-to-remove-mentions-of-homosexuals-and-womens-freedoms/

Read Humanists UK’s 2014 news item ‘Yesodey Hatorah says censoring exam questions “has successfully been in place with the Charedi schools throughout England for many years”’: https://humanism.org.uk/2014/03/28/yesodey-hatorah-says-censoring-exam-questions-successfully-place-within-charedi-schools-throughout-england-many-years/

Read more about our work on faith schools: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/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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