Ultra-Orthodox school has fallen foul of regulators because they don’t allow girls in who have TVs or Internet at home

A super-strict, ultra-Orthodox school has fallen foul of regulators because they do not allow girls in who have TVs or the Internet at home.

It can also bar applicants whose mothers wear sheitels, wigs that cover their hair, that are too long – by just 2cm.

Now Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls School, Stamford Hill, north east London, has been ordered to change the wording of its admissions code.

Its rules state that parents refrain from trends that go against the “spirit of modesty and holiness.”

These include daughters’ dresses and skirts not being shorter than 4 inches (10cm) below the knees – as they must “remain covered at all times”.

Very long skirts are also forbidden – along with those that are straight, figure hugging or slit.

The school says: “The wearing of flashy or very brightly coloured clothing is forbidden.

“Blouses, jumpers or dresses must fit closely to the neck. Sleeves must cover the elbows at all times. Make up should be discreet.”

Casual garments and footwear, denim or other clothing made from similarly ‘trendy’ fabrics such as leather and lycra, are related to the “casual free way of life of the street culture” and are also not allowed.

The strict guidelines add: “The television is absolutely forbidden. Access to the internet is forbidden. Likewise, other unsuitable home entertainment is strictly not allowed.

“Sheitels that fall below the base of the neck or do not conform in any other way to the halochos, Jewish religious law, are forbidden to be worn.”

In a written judgement the Schools Adjudicator partially upheld objections from an unnamed individual backed by the London Borough of Hackney.

It ordered the school to remove any reference to “very long skirts”, the word “flashy” in respect of the colours of clothing and the replacement of “discreet” in respect of make up with “conservative”.

It also asked the voluntary aided school to confirm “trendy” fabrics “means leather and lycra”, rather than these being examples.

The school was also told to give an explanation that “unsuitable” home entertainment means “any entertainment accessed online via any computerised device.”

The admission arrangements state: “Charedi homes do not have TV or other inappropriate media, and parents will ensure that their children will not have access to the Internet and any other media which do not meet the stringent moral criteria of the Charedi community.

“Mothers and girls will dress at all times in accordance with the strictest standards of Tznius (modesty) as laid down by the Rabbinate of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations.

“Fathers, where applicable, overall mode of dress style and colour will be in accordance with the Chareidi ethos of the school; must belong to a Chareidi synagogue and attend daily prayers as well as all prayers on Shabbos and Yom Tov.

“Likewise attend synagogue appropriately dressed i.e. jacket and hat. Set times for daily Torah study sessions are an essential part of a chareidi family environment.”

The school was established by the Orthodox Charedi Jewish community and opened in 2005 for 450 girls aged 11 to 16.

But it has been undersubscribed for several years. It currently has 305 pupils, and there are plans to extend it next year to take in five, six and seven year olds.

The judgement was made under the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 and the revised admission arrangements must come into force within two months.

Other parties to the objection were the governing body of the school and the Rabbinate of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations (UOHC), which is the school’s religious authority.

The Schools Adjudicator also took account information received during a July meeting at the school attended by representatives of the governing body, the local authority and the religious authority.

In order to remain unknown to the school, the objector did not attend.

Tony Blair attended the opening of the state school that has since been rated “Inadequate” by Ofsted for its highly restrictive education.

Members of the Charedi community aim to lead modest lives governed by the codes of Torah observance.

In 2008 it emerged nine pupils had refused to sit a Shakespeare test on The Merchant of Venice because they felt the character of Shylock was anti-Semitic.

There have also been recurring controversies at the school due to failures to teach sex education, the theory of evolution or various aspects of British history.


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