A Jewish girls’ school has received a failing report from a British education standards monitor because it did not teach its pupils about sexual orientation and gender reassignment.
The report concerns Vishnitz Girls School, an Orthodox Jewish school in the London borough of Hackney for students up to age eight. Inspectors charged that the school did not give its students a “full understanding of fundamental British values.”
The British education standards office, informally known as Ofsted, faulted the school’s lack of instruction about all legally protected characteristics, including sexual orientation and gender-reassignment, the U.K. newspaper The Telegraph reports.
Ofsted charged that this means students have “a limited understanding of the different lifestyles and partnerships that individuals may choose in present-day society.” It said school policy “restricts pupils’ spiritual, moral and cultural development and does not promote equality of opportunity in ways that take account of differing lifestyles.”
The school monitor has inspected the school three times in less than a year. Its report suggested school officials are aware school policy does not fulfill U.K. equality laws.
The school’s annual tuition is about $6,600. The Ofsted report did praise the school’s resources, its teachers’ expertise, and its improvements in areas like safeguarding children and leadership.
However, failure to meet Ofsted’s requirements could shut down a school.
The British Department of Education has required schools to teach “fundamental British values,” in reaction to reports that extremist Muslim groups were trying to infiltrate schools. In November 2014, these requirements were strengthened, with all schools being required to promote equality and diversity, as defined by the education department.
At the time, the British newspaper The Guardian reported these rules were likely to conflict with Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and other religious schools because they require them to prioritize secular law over religious teachings.
In 2014 a highly ranked Catholic school in Suffolk drew criticism from government inspectors for allegedly failing to prepare students for modern life in Britain.
The school filed a formal complaint about the investigation. The school said parents complained that the inspectors asked children as young as ten about same-sex sexual acts and transsexualism.
Ofsted and the “British values” requirement drew criticism from Catholic leaders like Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh, president of the Catholic Union of Great Britain. He charged that Ofsted “appears to be guilty of trying to enforce a kind of state-imposed orthodoxy on certain moral and religious questions.”