Lubavitch Senior Boys’ School: Fledgling Clapton Common school rapped by Ofsted over failure to improve teaching

The school site in Clapton Common. Picture: Google Maps

The school site in Clapton Common. Picture: Google Maps - Credit: Archant

An orthodox Jewish boys’ school has come under fire for its “unbalanced” curriculum and lack of checks on staff for the second time in 12 months.

Lubavitch Senior Boys' School in Clapton Common, which charges £4,380 a year in fees, was slapped with a warning notice from the Department for Education in November 2018 ordering it to improve.

In June the school had been rated "inadequate" in its first full Ofsted inspection since opening in January 2017.

Inspectors returned to the 40-space school, which is owned by the Jewish outreach organisation Chabad Lubavitch UK, in April this year and, in a newly-published report, found it was still failing to meet every one of the independent school standards checked.

In the latest report, they concluded: "The school's action plan [in 2018] outlined a range of actions to develop the secular curriculum.

"Leaders and teachers have had limited capacity to follow through on these actions. Time for teaching the secular curriculum has not increased.

"Consequently, pupils' learning in secular subjects, including in English, mathematics and science, lacks depth and breadth. Teaching remains pitched at the same level for all pupils, regardless of their ages or abilities."

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At the last full inspection there were 25 boys aged 11 to 13 on the roll at Lubavitch, with six part-time teachers and an interim headteacher in place since March 2018.

Between September and December 2018 youngsters were being taught on the site of Lubavitch Yeshiva Ketanah of London in Finchley Road, Barnet.

The school, which does not have a website, was then closed to pupils from the beginning of January 2019 before re-opening in mid-February.

At the previous inspection the management was also rapped for failing to fulfil key safeguarding duties including checking the suitability of staff.

By April this year Lubovitch had begun to centrally record checks on teachers' right to work in the UK and on any prohibition from teaching orders.

But Ofsted noted that the school's record of Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks carried out on individual members of staff was still patchy.

In addition, inspectors said: "The safeguarding policy provided during the [2019] inspection had been obtained from another school.

"The designated safeguarding lead named in this policy is the headteacher of the school from which the policy had been obtained. No mention was made of staff or pupils at this school.

"Nonetheless, the staff spoken to during this inspection were clear they had seen an updated policy but could not locate it."

At the same time, though, they said the interim head and governors were "rapidly gaining a sound understanding of the school's current shortcomings and are beginning to drive improvement", while day-to-day management of health and safety was managed "adequately" by staff from Lubavitch Junior Boys' School, which shares the premises.

The senior boys' school forms part of a newly-formed Lubavitch Multi-Academy Trust owned by Chabad Lubavitch UK, which had a declared charitable income of £8.5million in 2017 and spent £9.2m.

In 2017 Chabad Lubavitch UK was investigated by the Charities Commission after failing to file its accounts on time for five consecutive years, but in May this year received a clean bill of financial health from the regulator.

A spokesman for the organisation said: "[The senior school] is in a transition period after the departure of the school's head. There is a new governing body in place who are working hard with the DfE to ensure that good safeguarding, pupil welfare and learning standards are improving daily."

The other three schools in the trust became academies in 2018. Prior to this, the junior boys' school was officially in special measures after also being rated "inadequate" by Ofsted in 2016, while the senior girls' school and girls' primary schools were both rated "good" at their last inspection.

A statement on the senior girls' school website reads: "The trustees of the MAT [multi-academy trust] work closely with LSGS's senior leadership team and staff to develop the vision and aims of the school and academies."