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.
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