Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

UK Government Criticized for Turning Blind Eye to Illegal Jewish Schools | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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One of the Jewish schools in Barnet north London

London-The UK Department for Education is facing extensive accusations because of what media and legal parties called “turning a blind eye” to Jewish strict illegal schools, where students are physically abused and are receiving only scripture instead of studying the national curriculum.

An investigation by “The Independent” revealed that a London council’s education authority destroyed evidence of children being educated in illegal Jewish faith schools at the request of religious institutions, and that the Department for Education has been aware of the problem since 2010 but does not appear to have taken any steps to act against the destruction of these records.

The report, which accused the government, was based on a redacted ‘Action of Note’ of a meeting between representatives from the Department for Education and Hackney Learning Trust. It revealed that both bodies have been aware of the issue for at least six years.

Hackney Learning Trust is a private company in Hackney Council’s Children and Young People’s Service, which describes itself as having responsibility for the council’s “entire education function”.

The investigation by “The Independent” also found that more than 1,000 children were missing from schools in Hackney to attend illegal faith schools at the age of 13, with a prior notice from several government entities, thus raising several questions and criticizing the Department for Education.

The illegal, unlicensed schools are independent educational institutions that are established by private bodies without being registered in the government, which is a criminal offence.

Various sources, including former students and legal activists, confirmed that religious parties encourage parents to withdraw their boys from registered schools and let them attend extremely strict faith schools at the age of 13, in order to receive appropriate religious education.
However, these boys do not receive the education they need since they leave these schools with little or no ability to speak English since lessons are conducted in Yiddish, and few, if any, qualifications or skills which equip them to work, or live independently.

Some sources alleged that physical beating occurs in these schools and children are encouraged to enter arranged marriages upon turning 18.

This case has been highlighted after leaking Hackney Learning Trust’s own ‘Action of Note’ of the meeting to the media.

Moreover, a spokesperson for the Department for Education told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Nothing is more important than keeping children safe. It is the local authority’s responsibility to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect and take them seriously.

“Unregistered schools are illegal and unsafe, and we are taking unprecedented and direct action against them across the board to protect children, inform parents and support teachers, putting us firmly on the front foot.”

“We have announced an escalation of “Ofsted” investigations into unregistered schools, with additional inspectors dedicated to rooting them out, a new tougher approach to prosecuting them and a call to local authorities to help identify any setting of concern. Anyone who has evidence that an illegal school is operating should provide it to us or Ofsted immediately,” she added.

It is worth noting that Ofsted stands for “the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills”. It is a non-ministerial department of the UK government, reporting to Parliament via the Department for Education.

For his part, representative for British Humanist Association (BHA), a British charity institution that contributed to the investigation report, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Government’s own records reveal that thousands of Jewish boys drop off records of registered school children, and that currently, more than 1,100 children are missing from these records in Hackney only.