Hackney Council slams ‘completely inadequate’ government legislation on unregistered Jewish schools

Mayor of Hackney Phil Glanville. Phot by Gary Manhine/Hackney Council

Mayor of Hackney Phil Glanville. Phot by Gary Manhine/Hackney Council - Credit: Supplied by Hackney Council

“Completely inadequate” government legislation on illegal faith schools is stopping the council taking action to safeguard kids, the town hall has said.

An investigation launched by the children and young people’s scrutiny commission has revealed that the council’s key concerns around unregistered schools are the lack of safeguarding procedures, the narrow educational focus of yeshiva schools, and insufficient interactions with education and safeguarding professionals.

In Hackney, there are 29 known unregistered yeshiva schools offering religious teaching to some 1,000 to 1,500 boys within the Charedi orthodox Jewish community.

Across the country, up to 6,000 children attend as many as 290 unregistered educational settings.

The council’s research into illegal schools has sparked a “fundamental clash” been parents’ wishes to educate their children at the Charedi setting of their choice and the rights of children to a broad education in line with the national curriculum.

Mayor of Hackney Phil Glanville has pledged to work further with the Charedi community to establish a more entrenched safeguarding process.

“We have worked tirelessly for a number of years, but in the end, our efforts have been hampered by legislation on unregistered schools being completely inadequate,” he said.

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“Until the government makes changes in the law, it is very difficult for councils to ensure that children are safe in those settings.

“I recognise that the issue of unregistered schools is a particularly sensitive one for many residents from our Charedi Orthodox Jewish communities, who want to educate their children within the traditions of their community, and I welcome the input that Charedi leaders have had into this debate and review.

“However it would be a dereliction of our duty to each child in the borough to overlook our ability to safeguard any child or group of children.”

The report will be discussed at a town hall meeting of the children and young people scrutiny commission on Monday evening.

What do you think about the report’s findings? E-mail james.scott@archant.co.uk with your views.