The school that refused to let Ofsted speak to its pupils

Inspectorate raises concern that a private Jewish girls school in London is failing to prepare pupils for life in Britain

John Roberts

Ofsted has raised concern about not being able to speak to pupils about their moral, social and cultural development.

Ofsted has raised concerns about an independent Jewish girls school that refused to let inspectors speak to their pupils during a monitoring visit.

The inspectorate said it was denied the chance to speak to pupils at Beis Ruchel D’Satmar School in London about their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development

Ofsted rated the Orthodox Jewish School as "inadequate" in 2016 and visited in March to see how it had progressed.

Quick readOfsted denies anti-faith agenda

Private schools: One in four fail to meet independent standards

Background: Government 'not supporting Ofsted' on equalities 

The school said that it had not let Ofsted inspectors speak to pupils because of the concerns of parents about the impact it would have on them.

The inspectorate said today that the school is failing to prepare pupils for British life because it does not teach children about protected characteristics as required by the Equalities Act.

The report also raises concerns that the school has more than three times as many pupils as it is registered for with the Department for Education.

It is registered to admit 200 pupils aged 5 to 11, but it is currently providing education for 679 pupils aged 3 to 15, including 177 children in the early years.

The Ofsted report raises concern about not being able to speak to pupils.

It says: “Leaders were again unable to agree to or organise for inspectors to talk to pupils. This was because parents had written to the school in February 2018, asking leaders not to allow their children to meet with inspectors.

"The inability to gain the views of pupils, including in respect of matters related to behaviour, safety and welfare, was disappointing.

"It meant that inspectors were again unable to gain sufficient evidence to conclude that all the independent school standards were met."

The report adds that because the school does not promote protected characteristics it does not “ensure that pupils are prepared effectively for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life in British society.”

A statement from the school said: "It is important to clarify that it is parents who have written to the school insisting that the school protects their children from what they deem as aggressive, intrusive and inappropriate interrogations from Ofsted inspectors, who have strayed well beyond their remit in their sessions with pupils at other schools.

"Beis Ruchel d’Satmar is respecting the wishes of its parent body, that their children should not be allowed to speak to Ofsted’s Inspectors.

"Whilst the onus is on Ofsted to demonstrate that they can act with cultural sensitivity when questioning our children, our Community leaders recently wrote to the Secretary of State suggesting the creation of an independent community mediator who could be engaged to accompany children to ensure that these Inspectors cease to cause offence, whilst at the same time allowing them to gather the information they seek. We still believe that this would be seen as a positive step by many in the community and would help to change parents’ opinions.”

Earlier this year Ofsted called on the government to do more to support its work to ensure equalities legislation was being met in schools.

The report published today also highlights areas where Beis Ruchel D’Satmar is meeting independent school standards.

It said that a previous inspection found that the school was providing children in the early years with sufficient opportunities to learn and reach a good standard in English language and this inspection found that this continues to be the case.

The report also found that the school’s single central register now met requirements and says that it found no evidence “to indicate that the school undermines the fundamental British values or discriminates against pupils.”


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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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