State-funded faith school bans internet and censors women's knees

Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls' School says its policies 'protect girls from sexualisation'

Martin George

News article image

A state-funded faith school has come under scrutiny regarding its policies that ban all internet use for pupils and censor photos in textbooks that show women’s legs above the knees.

The Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls' School serves the Orthodox Jewish Charedi community in Stamford Hill, North London.

Humanists UK accused the school of operating a “censorious, homophobic and misogynistic approach to education” – but the school said its policies were to “protect our girls from sexualisation”.

Ofsted said its inspectors had recently visited the school, and “will publish their findings in due course”.

Faith school conduct

Yesodey Hatorah’s code of conduct, which pupils have to follow in and out of school, says “access to the internet is forbidden even for educational purposes” and that leisure activities “not in line with our school ethos” such as ice skating and bowling are not allowed.

It also says that pupils watching DVDs or videos as a group “must have prior permission from school”.

Photos of textbooks used by the school, passed to Humanists UK, showed references to homosexuality blacked out – as well as those about women smoking, drinking and driving with men.

Images were also redacted to remove sight of women’s chests, shoulders, arms and legs above their knees, while a photo of Hollywood dance legends Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers was completely covered up.

The school previously hit the headlines after redacting questions about evolution in GCSE science papers.

It was originally in the private sector before becoming a voluntary aided in 2005, and was rated “good” with outstanding pupil behaviour following its previous Ofsted inspection in 2014.

'Not acceptable'

Humanists UK education campaigns manager Jay Harman said: “It is simply not acceptable for a state-funded school to take such a censorious, homophobic, and misogynistic approach to education. Nor is it acceptable for such a school to be rated as 'good'.

“Once again, the consequences of giving religion free reign over our education system are brought into sharp focus.”

A spokesman for Yesodey Hatorah school said: “Old news, old news. It is well known that we redact our textbooks and it has been reported time and again as well as being well documented by all relevant authorities.

“This policy has nothing to do homophobia or misogyny, but is to protect our girls from sexualisation in line with our parents’ wishes and religious beliefs.”

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow Tes on Twitter and like Tes on Facebook

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Martin George

Martin George

Martin George is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @geomr

Latest stories

GCSE exams 2021 reform

3 reasons GCSEs need to change – and 3 alternatives

Our students deserve better than the national disgrace GCSEs have become, write three founder members of a movement aiming to radically reform the exam system
Bill Lucas, Peter Hyman and Al McConville 27 Sep 2020

6 ways to fine-tune your explanations

Now circulating the room is not possible, making explanations from the front as good as they can be is essential, says Mark Enser. Here are his tips to hone your technique
Mark Enser 27 Sep 2020
Director Leslee Udwin launched the charity Think Equal

Q&A with director and Think Equal founder Leslee Udwin

After making the award-winning film India's Daughter, director Leslee Udwin wanted to do more to help teach social and emotional learning - she explains how her charity Think Equal is aiming to do just that
Elizabeth Kitto 27 Sep 2020