Stamford Hill Jewish school loses appeal against ban on new students

Beis Aharon School, Stamford Hill. Picture: Google Maps

Beis Aharon School, Stamford Hill. Picture: Google Maps - Credit: Archant

An over-subscribed Jewish school that covered up pictures of women wearing short sleeves in text books has lost an appeal against an order banning new pupils.

Beis Aharon School in Bethune Road, Stamford Hill was told by the Department for Education in September it could not take on any more children after falling below standards.

And last week the appeal against the decision was rejected by the Care Standards tribunal, who said the restriction was “proportionate and necessary” until the school got its act together.

Although the school planned to increase the teaching of secular subjects from an hour to one and a half hours every day, few of the planned improvements had been shown to be implemented, Judge Hugh Brayne said.

The £2,680-a-year independent school, which has 342 pupils despite a limit of 243, was slammed by Ofsted earlier this year. A report found children shared a “universal view” that a woman’s role is to “look after children, clean the house and cook”.

Following the two-day hearing, judge Brayne said the school failed to “encourage respect for women and girls” by obscuring images of body parts in books.

“Although the particular books have been withdrawn,” he added. “The evidence that pupils learn in a school that women showing bare arms and legs are impure remains a concern.”

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The school responded by saying the history curriculum would in future reference Florence Nightingale as a “woman who made a difference”.

Ofsted had also said the school failed to teach “protected characteristics”.

Rabbi Friedman, Dayan of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, told the hearing anything forbidden in the Torah must be rejected.

He said: “We are not allowed to put our minds to it, to understand what is done and the reasoning behind it, nor broaden our knowledge of it. Should such thoughts which are forbidden enter our mind, we are commanded to cease and reject such thoughts.”

He added: “Religions other than authentic Judaism, beliefs, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, are forbidden in the Jewish faith”.

As a result, judge Brayne found the school had no intention of teaching or referring to characteristics of sexual orientation or gender reassignment, although Rabbi Twerski, a headteacher at the school, said he does tell pupils to respect other faiths.