Jewish school ordered to close after 40 years of illegal teaching

Orthodox jewish school under scrutiny

Orthodox Jewish school under scrutiny Pic: Flickr

An orthodox Jewish school in Stamford Hill has been ordered to close next month by the Department for Education after Ofsted inspectors decided it did not meet minimum standards of teaching.

Charedi Talmud Torah Tashbar school, which has operated for over 40 years, educates boys from the ages of three to 13. It has over 200 pupils. According to reports filed by Ofsted “the school does not provide a secular education except for mathematics lessons”. The curriculum is almost entirely in Hebrew and there are no written or spoken lessons in English.

Inspectors were sent in to investigate after the school applied to become a Jewish independent day school. Their criticisms were revealed in a series of Ofsted reports between 2012-14. Chief Inspector of Schools Sir Michael Wilshaw wrote to the Education Secretary Nicky Morgan on December 11, 2015 describing unregistered schools as “a serious and growing threat to the safety and wellbeing of hundreds of children in several English regions.” Now the DfE has ordered the school to close by February 12 if it does not change its practices.

The tough action has been welcomed by the National Secular Society, which campaigns against illegal faith schools.

Campaigns manager Stephen Evans claimed that a desire not to upset religious sensitivities had led to a ‘softly-softly’ approach. He told Eastlondonlines: ”The lack of political will to make progress has been down to what I’ve previously called a ‘bigotry of low expectations’ – the mindset that says children from certain backgrounds are less entitled to a proper education than others. I hope we’re starting to see this change, nurturing integration rather than promoting segregation and social isolation.”

According to written evidence submitted by the NSS on January 11, 2016 to the DfE’s consultation on out-of-school education a thousand or so ‘missing’ boys from Jewish backgrounds in Hackney are not receiving a broad and balanced education. “They are attending often unregistered ‘yeshivas’ where secular education is neglected and the curriculum is entirely religious,” they said in their submission.

The British Humanist Association echoed the concerns. Campaigns officer Jay Harman said: “We’ve been in touch with a number of former pupils from similar illegal schools around Stamford Hill, and they have confirmed that there are thousands of children being given a similarly limited education in other illegal yeshivas.”

The school could not be reached for comment.

Follow Nina Lecourt on Twitter: @NinaLecourt

Leave a Reply