Faith school not teaching students about consent in sex education

Posted: Thu, 5th Jan 2023

Faith school not teaching students about consent in sex education

An independent faith school is failing to teach students about consent as part of its sex education program, inspectors have found.

In a recently published report from a July inspection, Ofsted found that students at Ateres Girls High School, an independent Orthodox Jewish school in Gateshead, were not being taught about "sexual orientation, different types of stable relationships and vocabulary such as consent and the implications of this word", as part of their Relationships and Sex Education (RSE).

Whilst the report judged safeguarding measures to be effective, it noted that this lack of discussion relating to sexual harassment and violence – which is required by statutory RSE guidance – limited the ability of students to "understand what these mean and why these actions are always unacceptable."

It said more could be done to make them aware of situations where they may be at risk of harmful relationships.

Jewish counter-extremists have highlighted how a lack of sex education contributes to forced marriage in strictly-Orthodox Jewish communities.

The school also failed to encourage respect for all of the protected characteristics outlined in the Equality Act 2010. The report noted this failure was due to the schools leadership following "the wishes of parents by not making pupils aware of two of the protected characteristics".

Orthodox Jewish faith schools frequently refuse to teach about the protected characteristics of sexual orientation and gender reassignment due to religious objections to same-sex relationships.

The school has not been judged to be of an acceptable standard by Ofsted since 2016.

Ofsted also found major failings in the teaching of RSE during an inspection of another independent Orthodox Jewish faith school in November.

Lubavitch Senior Boys School in Barnet was found to have made "no progress" in the delivery of RSE since its previous inspection, which judged the school to be inadequate.

The report said that the inaction of the school's leadership continued to prevent students acquiring the necessary knowledge regarding "what a healthy relationship looks like" and "what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in relationships".

It also said the school had done nothing to rectify its failure to promote respect for all groups of people, including those of other cultures and faiths.

Ofsted also said pupils were "at risk" due to serious safeguarding concerns at the school. It found that no full time leaders had an appropriate level of safeguarding training. Many lacked the "most basic knowledge" of safeguarding processes, and the record of pre-employment checks on adults was not compliant.

The school was also found to have ignored a restriction issued by the secretary of state for education in late 2021 which prohibited the school's proprietor from admitting any new pupils.

The school has not been judged to be of an acceptable standard since its first inspection in 2018.

NSS: Failure to deliver RSE puts students at risk

National Secular Society campaigns officer Jack Rivington said: "As both reports from Ofsted make clear, the failure by some faith schools to deliver adequate relationships and sex education puts their students at risk.

"It is unacceptable for faith schools to ignore legal requirements relating to the teaching of RSE which they feel don't fit their fundamentalist religious views. That such schools are allowed to continue to operate in this way, despite being found inadequate for years on end, represents a major failing.

"The government must address why faith schools of this kind are allowed to consistently disregard Ofsted without significant consequences, to ensure a full and proper RSE curriculum is available to all young people."

What the NSS stands for

The Secular Charter outlines 10 principles that guide us as we campaign for a secular democracy which safeguards all citizens' rights to freedom of and from religion.

Tags: Faith schools