A shared statement tells schools not to cover subjects “prohibited by the Torah.” It tells schools that when probed by inspectors they should “state clearly and respectfully that they do not cover these subjects” and to ensure that “inspectors do not speak to pupils about these matters at all.”
The statement was triggered by recent correspondence from the Department for Education to a number of chareidi schools which encouraged compliance with requirements that conflict with Torah values. The correspondence implied that other chareidi schools, and Chinuch UK, could advise mosdos how to comply.
Clear and unambiguous advice from the country’s leading Rabbanim has brought such suggestions to an end.
The statement of the Rabbanim follows communication from Chinuch UK to all its member schools saying that: “Chinuch UK advises its member schools not to teach in any way that compromises our religious principles. Chinuch UK has no advice to offer [secondary] schools about how to successfully meet this requirement [to teach about the protected characteristics], nor are we aware of any other Charedi school that can advise about this.”
In a further complication, while the Department for Education has been quite clear that this subject matter is not required for younger pupils in primary schools, the inspectorate Ofsted continues to insist that primary schools also include these topics.
The regulations as currently interpreted require that older pupils are aware about each one of the protected characteristics of the Equalities Act 2010, in order to ensure that pupils have tolerance and respect for all people. Because chareidi schools do not teach pupils about all of the protected characteristics, many chareidi schools have been judged as not meeting the requirements.
As well as setting the boundaries for schools in respect to these teachings, the Rabbanim have requested that all our mosdos say kapitel 13 of Tehillim once a day as a tefillah for the success of our askanim.
The Rabbanim have emphasized that schools should explain to the inspectors that it is fundamental to a Torah education to teach pupils “to act respectfully to all people regardless of difference.”