Private faith school fails Ofsted inspection after putting pupils 'at risk'

Secondary school boys had no access to showers and were forced to share bathrooms with staff, inspectors reported

Rachael Pells
Education Correspondent
Tuesday 04 July 2017 10:31
Comments
'Senior leaders preclude the teaching of certain protected characteristics of people defined in the Equality Act 2010' Ofsted inspectors said
'Senior leaders preclude the teaching of certain protected characteristics of people defined in the Equality Act 2010' Ofsted inspectors said

A private faith school in London has failed an Ofsted inspection after inspectors accused school leaders of breaking equality laws and leaving pupils "at risk" through lack of safeguarding.

Yesodey Hatorah School in Stamford Hill, north London, is the latest of a number of ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools to be rated inadequate by the schools watchdog for displaying a lack of “fundamental British values”.

Inspectors visiting the independent, fee-paying school said safeguarding procedures must “urgently” be put in place, including necessary checks on the accountability and “suitability” of staff.

The report stated: “Aspects of the school’s promotion of fundamental British values are weak, particularly in relation to tolerance of people who have protected characteristics under the Equality Act (2010)."

The school has previously been subject to no-notice inspections as part of a round of unannounced Ofsted visits across England.

Previous inspections have earned the school a “good” rating, and in its most recent assessment, inspectors said the overall quality of teaching, learning and assessment remained up to standard.

But leaders "have not ensured that safeguarding procedures have been sufficiently robust to keep pupils safe at all times," inspectors found.

“The school’s leaders have not ensured that all staff employed at the school have routinely undergone the necessary vetting checks, which compromises pupils’ welfare.”

Of great concern, they said, were the “unsanitary” toilet conditions for boys in the secondary school.

“Boys in the secondary school have been placed at risk due to the unacceptable arrangements to share both toilet and washroom facilities with male members of staff.”

The school had failed to provide hot water facilities and secondary-age boys did not have access to showers, the report added.

“Senior leaders preclude the teaching of certain protected characteristics of people defined in the Equality Act 2010.

“The school is of the view that this would be considered unacceptable by the Charedi community that the school serves. This prevents pupils from having sufficient experiences that help them prepare for their future lives in British society.”

Complaints were also made about a lack of access to outdoor space and poor maintenance of school buildings, also said to be damaging for pupil welfare.

Pupil attainment was markedly good, however, with pupils in both the early years and secondary schools noted as having good behaviour.

The school, which teaches 671 pupils aged between five and 15, teaches boys and girls separately from reception class upwards.

Families pay between £3,016-£3,796 per year, with no alternative provisions or disadvantaged pupils in attendance.

While independent schools such as Yesodey Hatorah are not obliged to follow the same curriculum as mainstream local authority schools, they must meet two separate sets of standards outlined by the Department for Education and Ofsted.

Last week, Vishnitz Girls School - another Orthodox Jewish school in the same area of London – was failed for the third time by Ofsted inspectors for failing to teach LGBT issues such as sexual orientation, which is in breach of the Equality Act.

The school also failed to give its pupils a “full understanding of fundamental British values”- an issue Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman had spoken out on as a matter of priority within schools.

An Ofsted spokesperson said DfE standards require schools to “actively promote fundamental British values such as democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.

“Parents have the right, on behalf of their children, to expect an education that conforms to their religious beliefs and is in compliance with the law.

“Children living in England deserve the best - the law expects schools to demonstrate that they are encouraging pupils to take a respectful and tolerant stance towards those who hold values different from their own. Ofsted acts robustly and impartially to ensure children in England receive a good education.”

A spokesperson for Yesodey Hatorah Junior School said: “We are disappointed by this Ofsted report but are pleased that the effectiveness of our teaching staff and behaviour of our pupils were praised.

"The wellbeing of our children was never in question with many of the points raised by Ofsted being rectified following the inspection and a number were in hand before the inspectors visit.

"Nonetheless, we will continue to work hard to ensure the school will meet the independent schools criteria at its next inspection.”

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