British Jewish school flunks test triggered by claims on classroom Islamism

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — A British Jewish school failed government inspections on tolerance sparked by complaints that an emphasis on Islam in some public learning institutions has led to “a culture of intimidation.”

The Beis Yaakov secondary school for girls in Salford near Manchester received an “inadequate” in snap inspections conducted by educational officials from the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, according to the a report Wednesday in The Guardian, which said the school had enjoyed a “good” ranking before the inspection.

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Two additional Jewish schools had their rating lowered following inspections conducted last month in the wake of what British media are calling “Operation Trojan Horse,” referring to allegations that Muslim lay leaders are imposing discriminatory and extremist practices in their administration of publicly funded schools.

The standards office, or Ofsted, has described an “organized campaign to target certain schools” that Ofsted said in June was being carried out by Muslims in the Birmingham area.

“A culture of fear and intimidation has taken grip” in those schools, Ofsted chief Michael Wilshaw said. Some of the schools and parents have said that the complaints are overblown and amount to fear mongering.

In a report on the Beis Yaakov school, Ofsted inspectors wrote that “The school does not promote adequately students’ awareness and tolerance of communities which are different to their own. As a result, the school does not prepare students adequately for life in modern Britain.”

The management of Beis Yaakov made a formal complaint to Ofsted over the conduct of the inspection, with pupils at the all-girls school reported to have felt bullied by inspectors’ questions about homosexuality and whether pupils had friends from other faiths, The Guardian reported.

A recent Ofsted inspection led to the downgrading of the London Jewish secondary school JFS from “outstanding” to “requires improvement” this year — despite a 99.9% pass rate in exams for Britain’s General Certificate of Secondary Education, or GCSE, test for high school students.

The national pass rate for 2014 was 73.1 percent for girls and 64.3 percent for boys.