Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

'We Don't Deal with Sexuality in Any Form'

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

'We Don't Deal with Sexuality in Any Form'

Article excerpt

Rabbi will tell his pupils to skip 'inappropriate' exam questions

A state-funded, Orthodox Jewish school has admitted that it will encourage students not to answer GCSE exam questions on "inappropriate" topics such as evolution, homosexuality and "street culture".

Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls' School, which last year attracted national attention for censoring GCSE science questions on evolution, will advise pupils to skip questions that contradict its strict ethos, principal Rabbi Avraham Pinter told TES.

The voluntary-aided, all-girls school in North London was one of three Jewish schools visited by Ofsted in a wave of no-notice inspections in September. Its overall rating fell from outstanding to good.

Rabbi Pinter said Yesodey Hatorah would no longer redact questions after exams regulator Ofqual insisted that schools "should not be permitted to tamper with question papers prior to a student sitting an exam". However, he added: "We would say [to students], 'This is the ethos of the school, you would be avoiding that question.' Not instruction but advice.

"The school has an ethos. This is what the parents want. This is the education they want for our children. We would not do anything to undermine parents' choice. There are some areas students would have minimal knowledge of.

"You're expected to have a lot of knowledge of things like The X Factor...Facebook. It's trivia. Sometimes exam bodies aim for the lowest common denominator when this is not a way of life we would encourage...We don't deal with sexuality in any form."

An Ofqual spokesman said it would be for exam boards to decide whether the school's actions constituted "malpractice".

In guidance published earlier this year, after revelations that Yesodey Hatorah had blacked out questions on creationism in a GCSE paper, Ofqual said: "Denying learners access to all the questions on a paper prevents the candidate achieving their full potential and therefore disadvantages them. …

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