Community criticise Ofsted for planning faith-school meeting for Rosh Hashanah

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Community criticise Ofsted for planning faith-school meeting for Rosh Hashanah

Stephen is the Jewish News' Foreign Editor


by Stephen Oryszczuk

Schools inspectorate Ofsted has been heavily criticised by the Jewish community for scheduling a meeting of London’s faith schools over Rosh Hashanah.

Only after school leaders highlighted their difficulty in attending did Ofsted bosses offer to find alternative dates, but not before Orthodox community leaders reacted in anger to the snub.

Stamford Hill spokesman Rabbi Avroham Pinter said it showed “a blatant disregard for our faith,” while Mordechai Halpern, chairman of governors of Yesoday Hatorah School in Manchester, said it was “lam­entable”.

Meanwhile Rabbi Yehudah Baumgarten, who chairs the education committee of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, said: “There is great concern in the community.”

An Ofsted spokesman did not confirm whether the meeting’s scheduling on one of Judaism’s high holy days was an oversight, but said: “Orthodox Jewish schools are a valued section of the independent sector.”

He added: “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.”

For some, it was ‘too little, too late,’ with Halpern among those accusing Ofsted of ignorance. “Surely they should be critical of their own lack of knowledge of the Jewish religion, or at least of their insensitivity to the sanctity of the Jewish High Holiday,” he said. “Do they respect other religions?”

Orthodox school leaders have turned on Ofsted in recent months following a series of downgrades and surprise inspections. Last year, JFS was stunned after a downgrade from ‘outstanding’ to ‘requires improvement.’

At Beis Yaakov in Salford, inspectors placed the school under ‘special measures,’ while in London, Talmud Torah Tiferes Shlomoh in Golders Green and Yetev Lev, a Satmar school, were also branded ‘inadequate’.

Stamford Hill’s Talmud Torah Chaim Meirim Wiznitz also faced a scathing report.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: