Institutions providing out-of-school learning to Jewish students could soon be subject to the same Ofsted inspections as state-registered schools, after a government consultation closed this week.
Community leaders from the Board of Deputies and Interlink Foundation told the Department for Education that settings providing Jewish education outside school, such as yeshivot (seminaries), need not be vetted in the same way.
However GesherEU, a charity which helps people leave the strictly Orthodox community, submitted anonymous testimony from a young man who reported squalid conditions, long days spent studying religious texts and even corporal punishment, despite the latter having been banned from state schools in 1987 and private schools in 2003.
Independent schools are required to register with the DfE, meet certain standards on safety and welfare and submit to regular inspections. Under the government’s proposal to lower the threshold, more institutions – including synagogues, potentially – would fall within the state’s remit.
GesherEU believes that as many as 4,000 boys and 1,500 girls could be studying in yeshivot and unregistered ultra-Orthodox primary schools.