Charedi schools highlight weakness in faith school inspections

July 2, 2015


New research produced with the support of Accord Coalition member group, the British Humanist Association (BHA), has revealed a stark contrast between the outcome of inspections of Charedi Jewish schools undertaken by a member of the Jewish community, compared to those offered by Ofsted. Although the schools are private ones, the findings highlight the conflict of interest that also exists with state funded faith schools being able to choose the body or person that inspects their provision of Religious Education and Collective Worship.

Chair of Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘State funded faith schools should lose their ability to determine who inspects them. It is a bit like asking the Chair of a public company to be the auditor for its annual accounts. There is a clear conflict of interest and that is not in the public interest.’

The BHA supported research looked at inspection reports of independent Charedi boys schools during 2007-2014. It was found that the schools were rated as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ 71% of the time when inspected by a member of the Jewish community, but only 22% of the time when inspected by a non-Charedi inspector.

Accord’s longstanding call to change how faith schools are inspected was echoed last June by Shadow Education Secretary, Dr Tristram Hunt, who urged for a cross party consensus on ‘… questions about faith, multiculturalism and state education’ and for Ofsted to inspect RE at faith schools. The wide ranging report ‘A New Settlement: Religion and Belief in Schools‘, which was released last month by Westminster Faith Debates organisers, Professor Linda Woodhead and former Education Secretary Charles Clarke, recommended that ‘The ability of faith schools to retain their own inspection process for the content of collective worship and religious formation should be reconsidered’. (p62)


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