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Failing Stamford Hill school doesn’t let pupils take GCSEs because teachers ‘can’t censor the exam papers’

PUBLISHED: 17:39 10 March 2020 | UPDATED: 10:24 11 March 2020

Bnois Jerusalem Girls' School. Picture: Google Street View

Bnois Jerusalem Girls' School. Picture: Google Street View

Google Street View

Pupils at a failing Stamford Hill school are never entered for GCSEs, because its leaders “cannot censor the exam papers”.

Instead girls at the independent Jewish school, Bnois Jerusalem, in Amhurst Park, take internal school examinations using past-paper questions, an Ofsted report that was published this week revealed, which rated it as inadequate across the board.

School leavers are given certificates which have 'no value outside of the community', leaving them ill-equipped to pursue further study or employment.

'Pupils do not take any qualifications at the end of key stage 4. This is because leaders would have to contravene the examination regulations in order to censor the examination papers,' pointed out inspector Janet Hallett in her report.

'They are not well prepared for life in modern Britain. Not only do they not obtain any qualifications, they have limited or no knowledge of other cultures and faiths.'

Protests took place outside the school in Amhurst Park, that teaches 840 girls aged from two to 16, when Ofsted inspectors visited in December. Parents accused inspectors of an 'inquisition', and banned them from speaking to their children. 
The school teaches religious creationism in geography and science rather than scientific theories about the origins of life, and text, photographs and illustrations in geography text books are redacted.

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Fiction books are also censored, and no English language books are stocked in its library, which only has books in Yiddish.

'For older pupils, wider reading is limited,' states the Ofsted report. 
'Pupils' class reading books are selected from a narrow genre of fiction, such as 'Carrie's War' by Nina Bawden. Even within that narrow genre, pupils' fiction books are censored and redacted.'

Children in reception aren't taught phonics, and the lack of English books hinders their chance to master the language.

'Pupils' speaking skills are weak,' noted the inspectors. 'Often, pupils only give one-word answers in class and speak quietly so as not to be heard. This reflects pupils' lack of confidence with English language.'

The school was given a warning notice by the government in 2018 when Ofsted first criticised it for censoring resources and other failures.

Megan Manson from the National Secular Society, which campaigns for the separation of religion and state, said: 'This is a particularly appalling example of a school prioritising religious teachings over pupils' education and welfare.

'Teaching creationism as science, censoring resources, and depriving children the chance to gain qualifications and even communicate in English is utterly inexcusable. Fundamentalist religious zealotry should never be allowed to run roughshod over children's basic rights in this manner.'

Bnois Jerusalem was approached for comment.

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