Rome, 11 July 2017
A London school with an excellent academic record is being threatened with closure for its apparent lack of sufficient enthusiasm indoctrinating children between the ages of 3 and 8 in the concepts of ‘gender reassignment’. This is the lesson learnt by Britain’s hounded faith schools, most recently Vizhnitz Girls’ School, an Orthodox Jewish school in Hackney, London.
The Office of Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) has threatened to close this high-performing school not for any academic transgression, but for failing to prioritise the Education department’s equalities charter over the school’s teaching of the Jewish faith. Among the accusations, Ofsted claims the school does not adequately promote LGBT and gender reassignment.
Vizhnitz Girls’ School, a private Haredi school with 212 students, has been praised for its high academic standards. Ofsted’s admissions of the excellence of the school go further, noting the high-quality classroom resources, the quality of teaching and good subject knowledge. Elsewhere in the report Ofsted begrudgingly admits that:
the school’s culture is, however, clearly focused on teaching pupils to respect everybody, regardless of beliefs and lifestyle.
How then, after recognising this, can Ofsted castigate the school for being disrespectful to alternate orientations and lifestyles? Ofsted claims that schools are not expected to ‘promote’ certain ideas over orientation or gender fluidity, but to ‘respect’ them. By Ofsted’s own admission however, Vizhnitz Girl’s School has a culture of ‘teaching pupils to respect everybody.’
This contradiction in Ofsted’s report has led some parents from Vizhnitz School to suggest they are being unfairly targeted by the educational authorities. Indeed, the school has already been inspected three times in just one year; far more often than many of the poorly performing schools of Britain’s widely-derided education system. Despite being the 6th largest economy in the world and having a much higher education budget than most nations, Britain has slipped to 21st in reading and 27th in maths worldwide (OECD rankings).
This comes at a particularly troubling time for Britain’s Jewish community, which has seen anti-Semitism rise in recent years. In April this year, four British universities opposed the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism, the standard definition most UK institutions adhere to. This follows increasing academic boycotts of Jewish speakers on campuses and an 11% rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the UK.
In spite of the recognition from Ofsted that the Vizhnitz school has made improvements in areas like safeguarding children and leadership, the school is now threatened with closure, unless the school surrenders and effectively renounces its Jewish beliefs in favour of the beliefs of the secular liberal establishment.
Ofsted’s defence of this situation is that they are not imposing secularism but promoting ‘fundamental British values.’ This is ironically a new, ham-fisted imposition on schools in the wake of radical home-grown radical religious terrorism. Supposedly teaching the ‘fundamental’ British value of gender fluidity to a five-year old Jewish schoolgirl will prevent the next terrorist killing dozens of people with a nail bomb at a pop concert.
One wonders how energetically Ofsted is imposing the LGBT agenda on the UK’s 156 Muslim schools (in recent months, of the 95 persons killed in British terrorist attacks, 92 were victims of Islamic terrorism – a total of zero from Jewish orthodoxy).
Regardless of the facts (or common sense), Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman seems intent on using the shabby disguise of counter-terrorism to enforce the LGBT agenda upon schools. When asked exactly what were the success/failure parameters for the promotion of ‘British values’ Amanda Spielman failed to give an explanation. This allows Ofsted to arbitrarily dictate on an ad hoc basis, guided only by its own prejudices.
Ultimately it will be the schoolgirls of Vizhnitz who will suffer most when their school is closed, their education halted and their future thrown into chaos.
It is now increasingly clear, that for the liberal institutions that rule over us, tolerance is segregated into whom they consider to be the deserving and the undeserving. For those who don’t have the good fortune to fall into one of the liberal establishment’s officially-designated victim classes, religious freedom is the most disposable of all rights. Vizhnitz is not the first school to fall victim to this – the Christian-ethos Durham Free School was shut down in 2015 for failing to help students understand “British values” or “prepare them for life in modern Britain” – and it certainly won’t be the last.
Can Jewish and Christian schools exist in any meaningful sense under Ofsted? The evidence suggests not – and some might suggest that is perhaps the intention.