A religious school that bans its student from speaking about reproduction or any alternative theories to creationism refuses to change its “non-negotiable” religious restrictions on its curriculum.
Bnois Jerusalem Girls School is an independent Orthodox Jewish day school for girls aged two to 16 in Hackney, which remained at Ofsted’s lowest possible rating of inadequate after a progress monitoring inspection on February 9. The school’s last standard inspection, when it received the inadequate rating, took place on December 10, 2019.
The findings of the progress inspection, published on Monday (April 4), read: “Reproduction and any alternative theories to creationism are not allowed to be spoken about or taught, as per the school’s religious teachings. The teaching of religions, faiths and beliefs other than pupils’ own is also forbidden … This restriction of information limits pupils’ knowledge and understanding of wider society and, therefore, their preparation for life in modern Britain.”
Currently, 804 girls attend the school. Since September 24, 2021, the school has been subject to a restriction order from the Department for Education (DfE), which means that leaders are not permitted to admit any new pupils to the school from this date.
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However, leaders added new students to their admission register before the cut-off date, even though some of those pupils were not due to start attending the school until as recently as January 2022. Therefore, Ofsted concluded, “Some new pupils have joined the school when they should not have done so.”
This inspection did find the secular curriculum to be improving when compared with the last one that took place in March 2021. As an example, there were many more English fiction books available to pupils than there were before. It also noted that pupils are well cared for and “feel safe” in the school.
“This inspection found the secular curriculum to be improving. Curriculum advisers, subject leaders and teachers have worked together effectively to design and resource thorough, well-sequenced schemes of work in all the required areas of learning, for all year groups,” the report read.
However, the report went on to explain that leaders and governors describe the religious restrictions on curriculum coverage and references to some of the protected characteristics remain as “non-negotiable”. Consequently, it concluded that the school has no plans to bring about the required improvements in these areas.
However, leaders have not introduced formal, recognised qualifications and have no intention of doing so but instead complete internal examinations. “Leaders said that they adopt this approach to remove the risk of pupils coming across questions and content in unseen examination papers that leaders may deem to be inappropriate or offensive. Pupils receive grades from their internal examinations which are recognised by the seminaries they progress to after Year 11,” the report stated.
MyLondon has reached out to Bnois Jerusalem Girls School for comment.
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