The U.K. government’s requirement that schools teach “British values,” including “toleration” of homosexuality and transgenderism, has provoked opposition.
But a recent inspection of school curricula by the government agency Ofsted that left girls at a Jewish school “severely shaken” prompted stinging rebukes from a former London Guardian columnist and a writer for the London Times, reported the U.K.’s Christian Institute.
It was an inspection of the Yesodev Hatorah school in London that triggered the reaction.
Rev. Giles Fraser, writing for the Unherd website, said the school regulator, Ofsted, has “failed to understand the most basic feature of their own values: respect and toleration.” Phillips, in the Jewish Chronicle, said the government was being “profoundly intolerant” in its effort to “eradicate” religious differences.
Fraser noted the Jewish school’s values are distinct from the establishment secular view, “not least when it comes to sex education.”
Ofsted inspectors, however, he said, “obviously came with a fixed agenda, they wanted to talk to the girls about sex.”
The Christian Institute noted the students said the process felt “like an attack,” and one parent said their daughters “came home severely shaken” after the Ofsted visit.
Phillips accused the government of trying to eliminate religious differences.
“A policy ostensibly against intolerance is therefore itself profoundly intolerant,” she said.
And Jews are “paying the price” of efforts to target the threat from Islamic terrorists.
“To the secular mind, all cultures that reject liberal assumptions are an equal threat,” Phillips wrote.
Three years ago, elementary students at a Christian school in Sunderland, England, were asked questions by the government about homosexual practices. Another school, the Durham Free School, was closed by the government over its demands for such teaching.
Phillips said the government should have no problem with Yesodev Hatorah, a girls’ school with excellent academics.
The school doesn’t provide sex education because “this is contrary to the Charedi value of extreme modesty.”
She quoted one student saying that “under no circumstances did we want to discuss things that we were brought up our entire lives not to discuss.”
The government agency claims: “Faith schools are entirely at liberty to teach the tenets of their faith on social issues. However, they must also comply with the law and ensure that pupils are properly prepared for life in modern Britain.”
Government inspectors already have given a number of orthodox Jewish schools bad reports because they don’t teach homosexuality to young children.
Phillips wrote: “The mistake made by [government] has been their refusal to accept that the extremist religious threat lies within the Islamic world alone. Instead, they have defined the problem as one of general cultural differences. Wrong. The problem has arisen where children are taught to hate Western society and to aspire to replace it.”