The Executive Council of Australian Jewry has refuted “factually inaccurate” claims a Jewish school in the UK was threatened with closure over its teachings about sexuality and marriage.
The case of the ultra-Orthodox Vishnitz girls school in north London has been cited repeatedly by the Australian Christian Lobby’s director, Lyle Shelton, and used as recently as Thursday by the Liberal senator Zed Seselja, as an example of a school forced to change its teaching because of the legalisation of same-sex marriage.
In a statement released on Wednesday the ECAJ rejected the claim that Vishnitz “lost its accreditation as a school because it would not cease teaching its version of sexuality and marriage after same-sex marriages became legal in March 2014”.
“In point of fact the school found itself in difficulties with Ofsted [the UK school regulatory authority] well before March 2014 because it was said to have failed various other legal standards arising under earlier legislation,” it said.
“For example, the school was found to have failed to have policies in place that would require it to report incidents of abuse and neglect.”
In October 2016 and May 2017 Ofsted found Vishnitz girls school had failed to meet standards that education must “encourage respect” for others based on protected characteristics in the UK Equality Act 2010, including sex, sexual orientation and gender reassignment.
The school also failed its inspections for a number of other reasons including facility maintenance, lack of a medical room and poor labelling of suitable drinking water.
In May 2017 Ofsted concluded the issues had been fixed, including lack of child protection policies, but not the issue of encouraging respect.
Shelton has repeatedly cited Vishnitz, arguing it has been penalised because it “doesn’t want to teach their children these radical concepts” and noting it failed inspections after same-sex marriage was legalised in the UK to suggest it was…