Department for Education relents over dairy requirement

The Department of Education has relented over a stipulation which could have meant Jewish schools having to mix meat and dairy.

A new initiative aimed at driving healthy eating at schools had recommended that meat and dairy be available for school lunches. However, following a meeting with officials, Sara Perlmutter, education policy and projects manager of the Board of Deputies, said that the Department said it was happy for Jewish schools not to serve milk with lunch. She said: “We have managed to persuade the Department that a provision of milk in the morning to those children who wanted it would meet the required standard.”

Ms Perlmutter and Jeffrey Leader, Director of Pikuach, the Board’s inspection service, met Department of Education and Ofsted officials, to discuss matter of concern for the Jewish community. Mr Leader said that agreement had been reached with Ofsted over Jewish Studies classes. “In order to gain an overall picture of a Jewish school, Ofsted inspectors can now visit Jewish Studies classes but cannot comment on the quality of teaching in these lessons.”

Sean Hartford, Ofsted’s Director of Schools, stressed the difference between “promoting tolerance, which Ofsted expects and “promotion of other faiths”’ which they do not expect. Ofsted does, however, expect pupils to know about the cultural make-up of the country and would encourage contact between schools of different faiths.

The Board representatives stressed to Ofsted that its inspectors needed to be aware of what to expect when entering a Jewish school. It was agreed that Jewish schools would provide the inspectorate with briefing notes that would raise its awareness of Jewish customs and practices.

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