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Religious school risks losing Ofsted recognition for refusing to teach pupils about the existence of LGBT people

Emma Powys Maurice October 1, 2019
Protesters demonstrate against the 'No Outsiders' programme at Parkfield Community School on March 21, 2019 in Birmingham, England.

Protesters demonstrate against the 'No Outsiders' programme at Parkfield Community School on March 21, 2019 in Birmingham, England. (Christopher Furlong/Getty)

A Jewish girls’ primary school in Manchester has fallen short of Ofsted standards as it is refusing to teach its pupils about the existence of LGBT+ people.

Beis Rochel Mcr Girls’ School wants to register as as an independent school for 200 girls aged from two to 11. But it failed Ofsted’s pre-registration checks as it deemed LGBT-inclusive lessons to be “inappropriate”.

Despite ongoing protests from some parents and religious groups, LGBT-inclusive lessons which teach tolerance of diverse people and families will be compulsory in all UK schools from September 2020.

Protestors lined up outside of Parkfield School, Birmingham
People protesting LGBT-inclusive education outside Parkfield Community School earlier this year (Christopher Furlong/Getty)

It seems Beis Rochel school leaders believed this did not apply to them, as Ofsted noted they “intend not to make pupils aware of matters related to sexual orientation or gender reassignment”.

The report states: “Leaders do not have a suitable [PSHE education] that pays particular regard to the protected characteristics set out in the Equality Act 2010.

“In documents presented to the inspector, there was a clear indication that the proprietor and his advisers intend not to make pupils aware of matters related to sexual orientation or gender reassignment.

“Leaders stated that this position is based on consideration of the views of parents and carers.”

The government policy on LGBT-inclusive education says that schools can decide when and how they want to deliver the LGBT-inclusive lessons, as long as they deliver them. Parents have a right to withdraw their child from sex education, but not from relationships education.

(Pexels)

All lessons will be age appropriate, and at primary school level – the age of Bei Rochel’s prospective students – children will simply be taught of the existence of LGBT+ people and LGBT+ families.

But Beis Rochel reportedly conducted their own ‘risk assessment’ on the curriculum and decided the lessons would not be appropriate for any year group in their school.

The Ofsted report reads: “Leaders presented documents detailing their own ‘risk assessment’ of the age appropriateness of the work pupils would do with regard to the protected characteristics.

“Leaders judged that it was inappropriate to provide lessons for any year group in the school dealing with matters relating to gender reassignment or sexual orientation.”

The report concluded that the school is unlikely to meet all the independent school standards when it opens. Beis Rochel Mcr will now be a test case for the Department of Education on whether to approve the school’s registration.

More: LGBT relationships education, LGBT-inclusive education, No Outsiders, Ofsted

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