London faith schools meeting scheduled for Rosh Hashanah


(JTA) — Britain’s Office for Standards in Education scheduled a meeting of London’s faith schools on Rosh Hashanah.

The government office, known as Ofsted, offered to find alternative dates for the Jewish schools after the Orthodox community reacted angrily, the Jewish News website reported last week. Rosh Hashanah this year starts at sundown Sept. 13.

A similar meeting scheduled for Salford, near Manchester, is scheduled to be held on an intermediate day of Sukkot, which goes from Sept. 27 to Oct. 4.

“Orthodox Jewish schools are a valued section of the independent sector,” an Ofsted spokesman told the Jewish News, though he did not say whether or not the scheduling was an oversight. “We hope that representatives are able to attend events on days that do not fall within holidays or on religious days. If this is not possible, then we will work with them to find alternative dates.”

Rabbi Avroham Pinter, a spokesman for the large haredi Orthodox community of Stamford Hill, a London district, called it “a blatant disregard for our faith.”

The meeting was called to brief schools on a new inspection framework. Several Jewish day schools have faced downgrades and surprise inspections.

Last October, the Beis Yaakov secondary school for girls in Salford received an “inadequate” in snap inspections conducted by educational officials from Ofsted. Before the inspection, the school had enjoyed a “good” ranking.

Two additional Jewish schools had their rating lowered following inspections conducted last September in the wake of what the British media called “Operation Trojan Horse.” The inspections of all religious schools came in response to allegations that Muslim lay leaders were imposing discriminatory and extremist practices in their administration of publicly funded schools.


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