Strictly Orthodox boys ‘missing’ from school

The Department for Education is continuing to investigate whether strictly Orthodox boys in the UK are being educated in officially recognised institutions.

Up to 1,000 boys aged from 13 to 16 were estimated to be “missing” from the school system and instead being taught in yeshivot, according to documents which emerged from the department last year.

A DfE spokesman said this week that it remained “concerned that some Orthodox Jewish boys of compulsory school age are attending unregistered institutions, and we continue to investigate this.

“Where it is found to be happening, we will invite the organisation to register as a school, which will have to meet regulatory standards.”

According to regulations, children aged 16 and below must attend a registered institution and, although independent establishments are not bound to teach the national curriculum, they must teach some secular education and are subject to Ofsted inspections.

The DfE said that schools “must comply with a number of regulatory requirements including the quality of education, spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils; welfare and health and safety; suitability of staff; premises; information; and handling of complaints.”

A change in the law introduced this month will now require children in England to be in education or training at the age of 17.

This will apply to pupils who finished primary school in the summer. From 2015, children will have to stay in education or training until 18.

However, 17- and 18-year-olds — unlike 16-year-olds — will not have to be in a registered institution.
The DfE explained: “While institutions such as seminary or talmudic colleges provide a specialist education, students attending these colleges would be considered to be complying with the duty to participate beyond the age of 16.

“It is the council’s responsibility to check that young people are enrolled on a suitable education or training place.”

Last updated: 8:45am, September 4 2013