TV-ban school challenged by local council

By Simon Rocker, July 23, 2009

Bury Council has challenged the admissions policy of a state-aided strictly Orthodox primary school which stipulates that parents should not have TV sets at home.

The council declined to go into details about its objection to the entry criteria of Yesoiday Hatorah (formerly Prestwich Jewish Day School).

But a spokesman for the Lancashire authority said: “During the consultation on admission arrangements for 2010, we highlighted our objections regarding the draft policies of Yesoiday Hatorah Primary School. However, the determined policies were not altered.

“Under school admissions legislation, the local authority has a statutory duty to refer an objection to the Schools Adjudicator if they consider any admission arrangements do not comply with the mandatory requirements of the Schools Admissions Code.”

Schools are allowed to set religious requirements for their applicants, which have to be assessed by the school’s religious authorities, not directly by the school itself.

Yesoiday Hatorah states that it will not accept children unless their parents “unequivocally undertake not to have a TV at home, nor allow their children to have access to a TV”.

Parents must also ensure that their children cannot access the internet, or have access to other media that could cause “moral, social or cultural degradation”, Yesoiday Hatorah says.

Children are required to dress in accordance with Jewish law and parents must undertake to “reinforce the school’s policy of inculcating into their children the need for using refined language and conducting themselves in a refined manner at all times”.

A spokesman for the Office of Schools Adjudicator, which investigates complaints on admissions procedures, confirmed that it had received an objection from Bury and was in the process of appointing an adjudicator to examine it.

The school’s head teacher, Rabbi Yonoson Yodaiken, was unavailable for comment.

    Last updated: 5:23pm, July 23 2009