ULTRA-ORTHODOX JEWS in Hackney who shield their male children from the national curriculum can relax. They will not have to engage with the education given to adolescents elsewhere in Britain.
A Hackney council report into the so-called faith schools of Stamford Hill in north Hackney was published last Friday 12 January 2018, and discussed by a children’s education commission this week. It failed to budge followers of the educationally conservative Haredi tradition. An attempt was even made by Councillor Abraham Jacobson to tone down the report’s recommendations.
Haredi, sometimes spelt “Charedi”, are usually sent to yeshivas to study ancient religious texts — and little else. Ofsted, the governmental schools inspectorate, found one yeshiva that did not teach English.
Ofsted and Hackney say yeshivas are “unregistered educational settings”. The Haredi like to claim that yeshivas are not schools and that the boys are taught at home, which is legally permissible.
Councillor Chris Kennedy, who chaired the commission inquiry, told Loving Dalston that up to 1,500 boys attended 30 to 35 unregistered “institutions” in Hackney. (Given that the figure was the same when the number of unregistered “institutions was put at 25 to 30, 30-plus unregistered “institutions” would suggest an attendance closer to 2,000.)
Hackney and Ofsted have said they are hampered by present law when they try to deal with unregistered educational institutions. Legislation has been described as “woefully inadequate”.
Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville wanted urgent government action to deal with the problem but was rebuffed. So the attempt by Hackney council, Ofsted and others to get the 1,500-plus boys educated has reached an impasse.
If there is any suggestion of Jewish faith schools being excused educational obligations, their Islamic equivalents, madrassas, will reasonably enough seek the same privilege. Kennedy said council officers were “pretty sure” no unregistered Muslim schools operated in the borough.
Unemployment and poverty is serious among local Haredi. The 2011 census found that 44% of Jewish adults in Hackney have no qualifications and only 52% of Jews in the borough have no jobs.
David Altheer 170118
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