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Education watchdog rebukes school that redacted history textbooks to remove gay Holocaust victims

Nick Duffy June 26, 2018
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A history textbook at Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls’ School redacts mentions of homosexuality. Highlight added. (Courtesy Humanism UK)

A faith school that censored textbooks to censor all mention of homosexuality has been rated ‘inadequate’ by education watchdog Ofsted.

Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls’ School in London, an Orthodox Jewish school, had come under fire earlier this year for redacting sections of its textbooks to remove mentions of ‘homosexuals’.

Humanists UK, which campaigns for secular, LGBT-inclusive education in all schools, had exposed that history textbooks in the school were censored with a black marker pen to exclude references to gay people from a list of victims of the Nazis.

A history textbook at Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls’ School redacts mentions of homosexuality. Highlight added. (Courtesy Humanists UK)

The textbooks state that the Nazis persecuted “many minority groups such as Gypsies, [redacted] and mentally handicapped people”, adding: “They persecuted any group that they thought challenged Nazi ideas: [redacted] were a threat to Nazi ideas on traditional family life.”

Textbooks also censored examples of women socialising with men, and pictures showing women’s shoulders and legs.

Education regulator Ofsted rated the school ‘inadequate’ today after an inspection – the lowest possible rating.

The inspection team led by Helen Matthews wrote: “The curriculum set by the principal and governors is narrow and limiting in terms of subject content.

“The principal has made decisions restricting subjects, content, knowledge and information. For instance, some pupils’ study of history in Year 9 this year has been restricted to the Second World War, which is just one aspect of the key stage 3 history programme of study.

“In English at key stage 4, large sections of the GCSE course text book have been deemed as inappropriate and have been redacted. 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 personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education is taught through the religious curriculum. These tight controls limit pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development and their
understanding of the world, their future aspirations and their access to the full national curriculum.

“The curriculum does not prepare pupils adequately for life in modern Britain.”

File photo (Getty)

It adds: “The principal and governors do not adequately promote equality of opportunity or diversity.

“They do not encourage pupils’ respect for all other people, because they do not provide sufficient opportunities for pupils to learn about different faiths, experiences, cultures or perspectives.

“Consequently, while there is an ethos of respect and tolerance for each other within the school environment, pupils have few opportunities to explore how these would extend to those who do not share their beliefs or faith.”

The report further notes that the school’s bullying and behaviour policy concerningly “does not acknowledge the existence of all groups of people with protected characteristics”.

Ofsted states that the school “requires special measures because it is failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and the persons responsible for leading, managing or governing the school are not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement in the school.”

A classroom (Stock image via Pexels)

In a statement sent to PinkNews, Theo Bibelman, the Chairman of the Governors at the school, dismissed concerns.

He said: “This report says more about Ofsted than it does about our school. Just a few months ago the Hackney Learning Trust, judged the school to be outstanding and praised us for many of the aspects now deemed by Ofsted to be below standard.

“Even a cursory reading of the report shows that Ofsted has downplayed our successes and academic achievements whilst showing a clear disrespect for the Orthodox Jewish community.

“We were appalled at the way the Ofsted Inspectors treated our staff and students and we have made that clear to the relevant Government authorities. It seems that unless we agree with secularist agenda of Ofsted London then we cannot comply with their inspection criteria.

“We are always striving to improve our school, and we continue to do so, but the nature of this inspection and the resulting report has led to us feeling part of a secularist plot. This inspection was never about us; it is about Ofsted using their unfettered powers to try to force faith schools to comply with their agenda or fail.”

Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Jay Harman said: “This is what happens when religion is given almost untrammelled influence over the education of children.

“The purpose of a school is to educate its pupils, promote their development and wellbeing, and ensure that when they leave the school gates, they are prepared for life in a modern, diverse society.

“The purpose of this school – and there are others like it – appears to be the entrenchment of a homophobic, misogynistic, intolerant, and isolationist ethos, designed to limit its pupils rather than allow them to flourish.

“It is a tragedy that so many children have been and are being subjected to schools of this kind. The Government must start closing them down.”

More: Anti-gay, Gay, homophobic, LGBT, London, Religion, school, Sexuality

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