Jewish Creationist School in London

This is a strange bit of news — at least to us — because it involves a sect we’ve never heard of before. In the Guardian, which has probably the third-largest circulation of all British newspapers, we read Exam board contacts Jewish school over censored GCSEs.

GCSE appears to be an everyday acronym in the UK, because the article doesn’t define it, but we’ve never seen it before. It appears to be General Certificate of Secondary Education, a British qualification system for courses in government financed schools. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

A state-funded orthodox Jewish girls’ school in north London has been criticised after it was discovered that dozens of pupils had their GCSE exams censored, with questions about evolution deliberately blacked out of science papers.

The school censored national exams? That’s extreme! We rarely encounter news stories about Jewish creationists, although they surely exist. The last time we can remember was Creationism in Israel — Oy! Let’s get back to the Guardian:

The OCR examinations board found that 52 papers in two GCSE science exams sat by pupils at Yesodey Hatorah Senior girls’ school in Hackney this summer had questions on evolution obscured, making them impossible to be answered.

OCR isn’t defined. Our best guess is that it refers to the Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations. Let’s read on:

“Ensuring the integrity of the exam system is of paramount importance to OCR and we will always take all the steps necessary to protect it,” a spokesman for OCR said.

The exam board said it was holding discussions with the school to ensure that the episode was not repeated, as well as raising its concerns with the Department for Education and schools watchdog Ofsted, as well as the Joint Council for Qualifications of exam boards.

Ofsted? Yet another undefined term. It’s probably the Office for Standards in Education. Don’t they speak English over there? Anyway, that’s enough about British education system. What about the school? We’re told:

Yesodey Hatorah is a voluntary-aided all-girls school, meaning it is fully funded by the government but retains full power over its own admissions procedure. According to the school’s prospectus it gives priority to admitting “Charedi Jewish girls who meet the Charedi criteria as prescribed by the rabbinate of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations.”

Charedi Jews are often described as strictly Orthodox Jews, with Stamford Hill home to Europe’s largest community of Orthodox Judaism.

A unique community. We continue:

According to the school’s prospectus, prospective applicants are told: “Parents are expected to co-operate fully in insulating the children from undesirable external influences and fashion trends that conflict with Charedi Jewish values.”

The prospectus also notes: “Charedi homes do not have TV or other inappropriate media. Parents ensure that their children do not have access to the Internet or any other media which do not meet the stringent moral criteria of the Charedi community.

They sound like the Amish. Here’s how the article ends:

Stephen Evans, the National Secular Society’s campaigns manager, said: “Faith schools such as Yesodey Hatorah not only impede social cohesion by segregating children along religions and ethnic lines, they also fail to prepare pupils for life outside of a religious community and deny young people the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

The school could not be reached for comment.

Why do the Brits provide taxpayers’ money for such schools? Who knows? That’s how it is over there.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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14 responses to “Jewish Creationist School in London

  1. retiredsciguy

    “We rarely encounter news stories about Jewish creationists”?

    Klinghoffer? Medved? Ben Stein?

  2. This is another very good example that shows how secularism cuts both ways, sometimes inflicting great harm on the undeserving. Jewish or not, those poor girls are saddled with the stupidities of their parents and older generation who insist on exercising their right to perpetuate blatant and asinine nonsense. It is entirely unwelcome to call “Bunkum!” because it might hurt someone’s feelings and give offence. But most of those girls, if not all of them, will be hobbled for life by it and will likely, in their own turn, drum it into their kids’ heads, too. It’s a subtle kind of self-sustaining en masse child abuse whose only “defence,” like that of all its kind, is that it must be protected as cultural/religious practice and legacy. Demarcation problem notwithstanding, somehow such cycles need to be broken in an emphatic, no-nonsense way. Outdated superstitions and pseudo-profound fairytales sold as Immutable & Eternal Trvth©™ can do no other than impede everyone’s progress.

  3. Hey Curmudgeon,

    Yes we do speak English over here. The Guardian is read by the educated-middle class so these terms are familiar to them. In fact most newspapers over here do not need to spell out GCSE or Ofsted as they are in common use. Although RSA is less commonly used as an acronym.

    There is generally a strong line (against) teaching creationism in schools over here and that is precisely why this is a news item. Recently there have been a few stories about creeping creationism in schools – but they seem to come from imported American evangelists. For example see… http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-24371575
    or http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-24491511.

    Generally there is a very balanced approach to teaching religion v science. My son has religious studies class (as a small part of his curriculum) and the teacher is openly……atheist.

    Hope that helps. Keep up the good work.

  4. retiredsciguy counters with: “Klinghoffer? Medved? Ben Stein?”

    I’ve always thought of them as quirky individuals, not as representatives of a creationist sect.

  5. I’ll add my tuppenny worth to Pope Retiredsciguy’s astonishment at ourCurmudgeon’s claim

    We rarely encounter news stories about Jewish creationists, although they surely exist.

    Good heavens, man, who do you suppose created Biblical Creationism?

    Otherwise: full marks to our SC for skillfully translating UK educational terms!

  6. Perhaps now, SC, you will understand how annoying it is for us Brits having to wade through the alphabet soup in a typical USofA post.

    FEMA, NAACP, DOMA, DADT, SCOTUS, POTUS, SHMOTUS etc.
    Perhaps we can agree to use the standard convention of explaining the acronym first, e.g. Royal Air Force (RAF) to avoid the guesswork.

  7. Adrian says: “Perhaps now, SC, you will understand how annoying it is for us Brits having to wade through the alphabet soup in a typical USofA post.”

    Of course I understand. I hope I’m less guilty of that than some others, but I suppose I have my lapses.

  8. Well, laugh out loud (LOL), Adrian! What the #&%! (WTF) are you complaining about? You didn’t mention NCAA, LS/MFT, or IMHO. BTW, I agree with you 100%. The purpose of writing should be communicating, not perplexing.

  9. LS/MFT = “Lucky Strike Means Fatal Tumors”, IIRC?

  10. I wasn’t criticising your writings, SC which I find clear and erudite. It was the general use of acronyms which appears to be a trait in the USA without explaining them. Yes, I think that posters should be aware that they are talking to more than just their own culture on the internet and the Gruinard is at fault here as well.

    retiredsciguy, ROFL.

  11. I have no idea what “ROFL” means. Really. Help me out?

  12. RSG, Sorry, had a lapse into Text-Speak(tm) following your post. It means “Roll On Floor Laughing”. Sometimes transcribed as ROFLMAO.
    I think this means “………. my articles off”.

    Hope you don’t mind the acronym of your name!

  13. Adrian, thanks for jogging my memory. I think I remember now seeing the full version, either ROFLMAO or ROFLMFAO.

    I should get used to using acronyms because I’m a slow typist. But being a retired teacher, the drive to communicate clearly is just too strong.

    Oh, btw… “RSG” has been in common use here for a while now. That’s one I could figure out from context.