Ofsted wants to clamp down on schools that “don’t conform to their ideology”, a Jewish Ofsted inspector has said.
Rabbi Nathaniel Lieberman told a meeting of Jewish primary school teachers that the schools’ regulator’s aims are a “hodge-podge” of ideals and it is “looking for a pretext” for inspectors to turn up unannounced.
Rabbi Lieberman has been an inspector since 2009 and is also the headteacher of a Jewish girls’ primary school in London.
Speaking last week, Rabbi Lieberman said Ofsted had “an agenda to knock down our schools”.
The meeting also heard criticism from Jeffrey Leader, who directs the group which inspects and monitors the religious element of Jewish schools.
He said that in a meeting with Ofsted about ‘British values’, the watchdog was told that some Jewish schools required women, including visiting inspectors, to dress modestly.
The response from Ofsted that the schools “should adapt and show respect” prompted Leader to accuse them of “double standards”.
Responding to Rabbi Lieberman, Ofsted said it “is not systematically targeting Jewish faith schools”.
Controversy has surrounded new ‘British values’ rules since their introduction by the Department for Education in September.
In October Jewish school pupils were reportedly left “traumatised” after being questioned by Ofsted on whether or not they had a boyfriend, how babies are made and whether they knew that two men could marry.
And earlier this month it emerged that pupils at a Christian school had been asked if they knew what lesbians “did”.
Last year the National Association of Jewish Orthodox Schools said that their “Jewish values and ethos are being questioned by inspectors in a climate of hostility designed to unsettle the pupils at member schools”.
Headteachers at several different Jewish schools reported that girls “felt bullied into answering inspectors’ questions” and were left feeling “traumatised and ashamed”.
Earlier this week Education Secretary Nicky Morgan refused to back down over her drive to enforce the ‘British values’ regulations.
Mrs Morgan said that she would “vigorously defend” the regulations because they help to “open young people’s minds”.