A religious all-girls school was rapped by Ofsted for censoring textbooks and refusing to teach kids about reproduction – in both humans and animals.
The Orthodox Jewish all-girls high school was slammed for blanking out pictures of men and women standing together in textbooks – and teachers even crossed out bare ankles in science books.
Inspectors at Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls School, in Hackney, east London, found staff had also redacted “inappropriate” chapters of novels such as Sherlock Holmes and in textbooks, including about the queen’s supremacy in Elizabethan England.
History students in year nine were found to only be studying the Second World War and in science, subjects such as reproduction and global warming were left off teaching plans.
Rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted, the school has been told its curriculum is restrictive and does not prepare pupils for life in modern Britain.
The report, published on Tuesday, says: “Leaders tightly control curriculum content and prohibit pupils from learning key information. For instance they do not allow pupils to study human or animal reproduction in their science lessons.
“Governors have not fulfilled their statutory responsibility to keep pupils safe in modern Britain, because they restrict the information, advice and guidance available to them.
“Pupils’ learning is restricted due to the prevalent redaction of textbooks, fiction and non-fiction texts in the library. Governors and the principal have enforced a policy of redacting texts, which limits pupils’ knowledge and understanding.”
Principal of the school Rabbi Pinter is said to have limited the range of books available to pupils, and filled the library with books celebrating the achievements of Jewish men.
Ofsted said the rabbi has an “over-generous view” of the quality of education provided at the school, attended by 307 girls between the ages of 11 and 16-years-old.
The report said: “The principal has made decisions restricting subjects, content, knowledge and information.
“In addition, texts such as ‘Sherlock Holmes’ have had sections of text redacted. In science, pupils are not permitted to study animal or human reproduction and other areas such as global warming are restricted. Leaders do not fulfil their statutory duty to provide sex and relationships education.
“The majority of PSHE education is taught through the religious curriculum.”
Drama and music are limited to “permitted pieces” and extra-curricular activities, trips and resources, including books in the library, are restricted at the school, the report states.
The report said leaders did not teach sex and relationships education as specified in the national curriculum but did not detail why.
Even the works of great painters such as Pablo Picasso has not escaped censorship – with pictures in textbooks blanked out by school leaders.
A trip to the Tate Modern art gallery in Southwark was also banned, inspectors found.
In a section headed ‘Safeguarding’, the Ofsted report says that pupils were not given any information on how to be safe online because they do not have access to social technology.
But inspectors found evidence of parents and teachers using phones, tablets and computers.
Information on how to stay safe was mainly limited to “road and fire safety and first aid” including “staying in pairs”, “using the family phone” and staying away from certain areas, the report states.
Helpline numbers were also wiped from the books, which inspectors said stopped pupils “protecting themselves, because they are unable to seek independent, confidential advice if needed”.
The quality of teaching at the school was rated ‘requires improvement’ as inspectors found that pupils were set worksheets in lessons that lacked challenge and required “little knowledge or understanding.”
Teachers were also said to be “unqualified and inexperienced”.
One worksheet seen by an inspector compared the recreational interests of Jewish people with non-Jews.
The report says that stereotypes had not been challenged as “misconceptions had been left unchecked and simplistic responses had been accepted.”
The redaction of texts, the report says, “restricts pupils’ knowledge and prevent them from learning about themselves, others and the world around them.”
Girls at the school were banned from inter-school sport and were unable to socialise with kids from other schools, it was found.
Ofsted have rated Yesodey Hatorah as inadequate, and have set out a number of improvements needed to be made at the state-aided high school, including teaching pupils how to keep safe, providing impartial careers advice and reviewing and extended the texts available to students.
The school was rated ‘good’ at its last inspection in 2014.
Since you’re here …
We do not charge or put articles behind a paywall. If you can, please show your appreciation for our free content by donating whatever you think is fair to help keep TLE growing.
Every penny we collect from donations supports vital investigative and independent journalism. You can also help us grow by inviting your friends to follow us on social media.