Private faith school fails Ofsted inspection after putting pupils ‘at risk’

CREDIT: This story was first seen in the Independent

A private faith school in London has failed an Ofsted inspection after inspectors accused school leaders of breaking equality laws and leaving pupils ‘at risk’ through lack of safeguarding, the Independent writes.

Yesodey Hatorah School in Stamford Hill, north London, is the latest of a number of ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools to be rated inadequate by the schools watchdog for displaying a lack of ‘fundamental British value’”.

Inspectors visiting the independent, fee-paying school said safeguarding procedures must “urgently” be put in place, including necessary checks on the accountability and ‘suitability’ of staff.

The report stated: ‘Aspects of the school’s promotion of fundamental British values are weak, particularly in relation to tolerance of people who have protected characteristics under the Equality Act (2010).’

The school has previously been subject to no-notice inspections as part of a round of unannounced Ofsted visits across England.

Previous inspections have earned the school a good rating, and in its most recent assessment, inspectors said the overall quality of teaching, learning and assessment remained up to standard.

But leaders ‘have not ensured that safeguarding procedures have been sufficiently robust to keep pupils safe at all times’, inspectors found.

‘The school’s leaders have not ensured that all staff employed at the school have routinely undergone the necessary vetting checks, which compromises pupils’ welfare.’

Of great concern, they said, were the ‘unsanitary’ toilet conditions for boys in the secondary school.

‘Boys in the secondary school have been placed at risk due to the unacceptable arrangements to share both toilet and washroom facilities with male members of staff.’

The school had failed to provide hot water facilities and secondary-age boys did not have access to showers, the report added.

‘Senior leaders preclude the teaching of certain protected characteristics of people defined in the Equality Act 2010.

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‘The school is of the view that this would be considered unacceptable by the Charedi community that the school serves. This prevents pupils from having sufficient experiences that help them prepare for their future lives in British society.’

Complaints were also made about a lack of access to outdoor space and poor maintenance of school buildings, also said to be damaging for pupil welfare.

Pupil attainment was markedly good, however, with pupils in both the early years and secondary schools noted as having good behaviour.

The school, which teaches 671 pupils aged between five and 15, teaches boys and girls separately from reception class upwards.

Families pay between £3,016-£3,796 per year, with no alternative provisions or disadvantaged pupils in attendance.

While independent schools such as Yesodey Hatorah are not obliged to follow the same curriculum as mainstream local authority schools, they must meet two separate sets of standards outlined by the Department for Education and Ofsted.