The Government has responded to news that yeshivas in Hackney sought a “quid pro quo” on the curriculum in return for safeguarding Jewish boys by calling the yeshivas “illegal and unsafe”.
The Council had established an independent Commission which sought to engage Jewish Orthodox leaders in order to develop a safeguarding framework, but revealed recently that their outreach had been rebuffed, as yeshivas had wanted something in exchange for their help.
Among the arrangements sought by the Commission is that all staff be subject to criminal records checks, be given safeguarding training, and that whistleblowing procedures be agreed and published.
Asked for a comment by Jewish News this week, a Department for Education (DfE) spokeswoman said: “Unregistered schools are illegal, unsafe and anyone found to be running one can be prosecuted.”
The statement is in-line with past statements, yet it is unclear who has prosecuting powers, because yeshivas do not need to register with Ofsted, since they are not technically “schools,” so Ofsted cannot inspect them or close them down.
Local authorities say they too have no legal powers to close the yeshivas down, but the Government has consistently disagreed. Amid the finger-pointing, yeshivas continue to operate.
“We are consulting on proposals which would require more full-time institutions to be regulated in the same way that independent schools are,” said the DfE spokeswoman this week.
“Local authorities have powers to intervene in unregistered education settings and we expect them to do so where concerns have been identified.”
The Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, which was involved in discussions with the Commission, declined to comment.