Ofsted has “an anti-faith agenda” which “borders on anti-Semitic,” the principal of an Orthodox Jewish school has claimed. Rabbi Avrohom Pinter’s school topped a government league table released last week tracking the academic progress of secondary pupils in Hackney, despite receiving an inadequate Ofsted rating earlier this year.
Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls School is currently the only school in Hackney in special measures after an inspection in March found that it did “not prepare pupils well for life in British society” and required improvement of pupil outcomes and the quality of teaching and learning. But Rabbi Pinter claims that his school has been vindicated by its strong progress scores, arguing that they “expose Ofsted’s secularist agenda”.
Tensions tend to surround Ofsted’s requirement that ‘British values’ are promoted in schools, as teaching subjects such as sex education and LGBTQ rights is often viewed as unacceptable by faith school leaders.
An Ofsted spokesperson hit back, saying: “Rabbi Pinter’s accusations are wrong, offensive and abhorrent. Ofsted is not treating faith schools unfairly by expecting them to tackle bullying, display helpline numbers and not censor textbooks. We are ensuring they follow the law.
“Academic success is of course important, but so is preparing pupils for life in modern Britain, tackling prejudice, and making sure young people are kept safe. Yesodey Hatorah failed to do this, which is why it was judged inadequate”.
“They [Ofsted] are not prepared to accept that we have got a certain way of life… we believe in maintaining our children’s innocence,” said Rabbi Pinter. “[The league table] would suggest we have got a reasonable curriculum and our outcomes are outstanding. Amanda Spielman [ head of Ofsted] accuses us of not being tolerant, I would suggest that she looks in the mirror.”
The Ofsted spokesperson said: “We inspect all schools, regardless of faith, in the same way. And faith schools are entirely at liberty to teach the principles of their faith on social issues. However, they must also comply with the law. The vast majority of faith schools see no tension in doing this.”