Ofsted accused of ‘bullying’ Jewish school girls
Tue, 14 Oct 2014
Jewish school pupils were left “traumatised” after being questioned by schools’ regulator Ofsted, a school association has said.
The National Association of Jewish Orthodox Schools (NAJOS) said it was “appalled” by questions asked during recent surprise inspections.
The pupils were asked whether or not they had a boyfriend, how babies are made and whether they knew that two men could marry.
The news comes as The Christian Institute is raising concerns over new school standards for England which the Government introduced in September.
This week, NAJOS wrote to Ofsted and Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, arguing that “Jewish values and ethos are being questioned by inspectors in a climate of hostility designed to unsettle the pupils at member schools”.
Head teachers at different Jewish schools reported that girls “felt bullied into answering inspectors’ questions” and were left feeling “traumatised and ashamed”.
One year nine pupil said she felt “uncomfortable and upset” after inspectors told pupils that a “woman might choose to live with another woman and a man could choose to live with a man, it’s up to them”.
Another girl in year eleven said: “They made us feel threatened about our religion. They asked ‘Do you have friends from other religions?’ They asked this many times until we answered what they wanted us to say.”
In a statement, NAJOS said: “Ofsted inspectors have been asking pupils inappropriate and challenging questions, many of which fall outside the religious ethos and principles at orthodox Jewish faith schools.”
Earlier in the week, The Christian Institute highlighted the case of a Church of England primary school in Bolton which was scolded by Ofsted inspectors for failing to celebrate “religious and cultural diversity”.
The Institute’s Director Colin Hart said: “We are increasingly alarmed at the outworking of new school standards which the Government introduced in September.”
Mr Hart added: “In reality, the Government’s promotion of ‘British Values’ in education is turning out to mean promoting political correctness and secularism.”
Invasive and unjustified
Leading barrister John Bowers QC believes the new rules may “affect the freedom of speech of teachers”, with inspectors being drawn into policing equality law.
The Christian Institute is preparing a judicial review of the regulations, saying they are “invasive and unjustified”.