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Haredi School Faces Closure (29/06/2017)

An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish school faces closure by the government for failing to teach its students about gender identity and LGBT issues.

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The Vizhnitz Girls School (source: the Jewish Press)

The Vishnitz Girls School in North London failed its third inspection by the Office of Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) within a year last month.

The all-girls school teaches Haredi girls from ages three to eight and has just over 200 students, many of who speak Yiddish as their first language.

While the faith school is permitted to teach a split between non-secular and secular courses, Ofsted determined that its curriculum failed to teach students, “respect and tolerance for those who may have protected characteristics as set out in the 2010 Equality Act.”

The 2010 Equality Act was put into law to consolidate a wider palette of anti-discrimination laws, including the 1970 Equal Pay Act, the Race Relations Act and the 2003 Employment Equality Regulations regarding religion, age, and sexual orientation.

Ofsted reported earlier this month that students at the Haredi school were “shielded” from learning about sexual orientation and gender reassignment.

According to the investigators, this “restricts pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and does not promote equality of opportunity in ways that take account of differing lifestyles. As a result, pupils are not able to gain a full understanding of fundamental British values.”

While the school failed to pass under the Equality Act, the investigators also found room to praise the school, saying its students are “well-motivated, have positive attitudes to learning and are confident in thinking for themselves.”

A spokesperson for Ofsted said: “Children living in England deserve the best – the law expects schools to demonstrate that they are encouraging pupils to take a respectful and tolerant stance towards those who hold values different from their own. Ofsted acts robustly and impartially to ensure children in England receive a good education.”


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