First Chareidi School in U.K. Closed Down by Ofsted

LONDON -

In what is feared will set a precedent for many chareidi mosdos in the United Kingdom, a closure order received by Getters Talmud Torah in Stamford Hill will go into effect on Thursday, July 19. The closing of North London’s long-established school, fondly known as Getters, comes after 66 years of chinuch al taharas hakodesh of tens of thousands of boys. Established in 1952 by the Getter brothers, with the full support of the late Harav Shlomo Baumgarten, Rav of Khal “69,” the school has constantly striven to provide an equal opportunity for all segments of the kehillah to receive a chinuch based on the mesorah of our forebears. True respect for Yidden of all stripes was the hanhalah’s consistent policy, that the school belongs to no specific sect, and where children from all Chassidic and non-Chassidic homes could learn and play with each other in a harmonious environment.

“Over the years we worked together with Ofsted in good faith,” explained a spokesman for the school. “They understood that although we would spend the majority of the day on limudei kodesh, what we did provide in limudei chol was taken seriously.”

The turning point was in Nov. 2014, soon after the government introduced the requirement for a “broad and balanced” curriculum. A senior Ofsted inspector carried out a routine inspection and appeared satisfied overall. The inspection was abruptly interrupted, however, when he received a phone call from his superiors. Against his personal wishes, he was instructed to fail the school.

To guarantee that the then-unknown agenda was followed through, Ofsted immediately dispatched a further inspector to the school to ensure that the instructions were carried out. In the process they undermined one of their most senior and respected inspectors in order to push forth some dubious objective and publicize some weak claims against the school, which were subsequently shown to be false.

The secularist agenda which is now well-known was not obvious at the time. Having failed, the school proceeded to submit an action plan – which was rejected one month later. Thus began a long and difficult struggle, with the school investing many thousands of pounds to produce a professionally written action plan for which another mossad had received approval. However, the fearsome inspectorate was not impressed and, in September 2017, issued a closure order against the school, to the dismay of the hundreds of families affected – and to the shock of the entire kehillah, which began to wonder where this would lead.

“We can only speculate why our school was ‘chosen’ over others,” explained a representative, adding that “this should cause concern for any mossad whose only failing is in not providing a ‘broad and balanced’ education.”

The school had a route to pursue that was legally satisfactory, and it attempted the “flexi schooling” option. This would mean that the school would provide the limudei kodesh and basic secular subjects, with the parents accepting responsibility to provide the secular curriculum. Ofsted rejected this. “This is one of a number of indications of the secular agenda,” the spokesperson explained. “This is a legally satisfactory option. We were not failing on health and safety issues or in providing a positive environment for our kids, and we had a way to satisfy the requirement for secular education.”

When the school received the closure order, it appealed. With the recent crisis affecting mosdos nationwide, the school decided, upon advice from their legal advisers, to surrender to the secular-driven authorities and agreed to close down at the end of term. And so a school in which Ofsted described the children as “well behaved” and where pupils were “well cared for in safe premises” was the first to be closed, solely due to curriculum shortcomings.

Not wishing to be perceived as shutting a well-run school simply on curriculum shortcomings, a subsequent report made certain to point out minor shortcomings in health and safety. The tone of the report leaves the reader with the impression that no safety checks had been carried out on the teachers, in a deliberate distortion of facts.

The final blow the school will receive from the self-righteous inspectorate is a report scheduled to be issued on the day it closes. With Ofsted serving as inspectors of schools, which is in order to offer suggestions on improvement, many in the community will struggle to understand the necessity of further shaming an institution that exists no longer. One parent compared the sequence of events to “shooting an arrow and then drawing the bull’s eye around where it lands.” The inspectorate first failed the school, then seeks to justify why it was appropriate to do so.

The sad day of the closing down of a school cherished and appreciated by parents and student body alike must serve as a wake-up call to all who care to protect the United Kingdom from the liberal agenda of the secularists.