Channel 4 has said it will air “shocking” new revelations about “illegal” Jewish schools in London on its ‘Dispatches’ programme tonight after an undercover investigation into the Orthodox community in Stamford Hill.
The team claims to have found evidence that over 1,000 Orthodox Jewish boys in London are being taken out of school between the ages of 13 and 16 and sent by their parents to yeshivas – fee-paying schools where the curriculum is solely religious.
“We have identified more than ten unregistered, illegal, schools,” they said in a press release. “What’s really shocking is that Hackney Council, the Department for Education and Ofsted have all known about these schools for years.”
It follows concern raised earlier this year about the infiltration of religious radicals in faith schools in Birmingham, in what became known as the ‘Trojan Horse’ affair.
Last month, five state-funded schools in the West Midlands were placed in to special measures after claims they’d been taken over by radical Islamists.
Those behind tonight’s documentary say the show opens up new questions about the role of faith communities in schools, after Orthodox schools in Hackney are shown to “operating illegally and without the most basic health, safety and child welfare checks”.
The programme makers also say they will reveal that the Prime Minister’s Officer knew what was going on even before the so-called anonymous ‘Trojan Horse’ letter came to light.
In tonight’s programme, former students of these “illegal” schools speak out against the segregated education they received.
One says: “I didn’t speak English. I only spoke Yiddish. I didn’t even know what the word science meant, I didn’t know the definition, I hadn’t heard this word before. We didn’t come out with anything we could use in daily life or even in the future. When I was a kid I was told terrible things about non-Jews.”
He added: “The thing in the community is that in order to keep such a vast number of people enclosed is that they are indoctrinating from a very young age that everything outside is bad, that everything outside is evil except Charedim is bad.”
A Dispatches reporter posing as a cleaner looking for work, filmed undercover at one run-down building operating as a school illegally.
“We filmed more than 50 boys all at school desks in one room alone,” say the team. “Our hidden cameras reveal boys, many who are clearly 16 or under, arriving here from 7 in the morning.
“And just round the corner, closed to the outside world, we find more. A house on a residential street where we’ve seen as many as 50 boys going in early in the morning and sometimes not leaving until 10pm.”
In total we identified more than ten unregistered, illegal, schools.
One former pupil says: “I feel very angry but I can’t blame anybody, any individual in particular, I blame the system.
“It bothers me that I was born in that system but what bothers me most is that there are people who could have intervened and done something to change that. The problem is we are children and we are being robbed from our education.
Dispatches contacted the schools featured but have received no response.
Hackney Council, Ofsted and the Department for Education acknowledged that their concerns date back many years, that they were aware of all the schools on our list and that they have been working to get them registered.