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Government planning crackdown on unregistered yeshivot

Education Secretary Damian Hinds is reported to be planning action against unregulated educational institutions

    Damian Hinds
    Damian Hinds

    The government is finally planning to take action against unregistered educational institutions, according to the Sunday Times.

    New Education Secretary Damian Hinds is reported to be ready to take a tougher line on schools which operate outside control of the authorities.

    According to the law, it is illegal to for an institution to teach children under the age of 16  for 18 or more hours a week.

    But yeshivot in the north London of Hackney which are teaching boys as young as 13 argue they are not schools under the current legal definition and therefore exempt from registration and inspection.

    Ofsted has found 359 illegal schools in the country over the past two years with 12 under criminal investigation.

    The inspection service and Hackney Council – which earlier this year published a report on unregistered yeshivot – have both said the current legislation is inadequate to deal with the problem.

    But the Department for Education has previously tried to bat it back, claiming they have sufficient powers to tackle it.

    Although David Cameron’s government had sought new powers for Ofsted to scrutinise part-time institutions beyond schools, the results of the consultation on the issue have been long delayed.

    Hackney Council reported before Mr Hinds's appointment it had been told by the Department for Education that no legislation was on the cards till at least next year.

    Labour peer Lord Soley, meanwhile, last year introduced a private members bill which would make it compulsory for children being home-schooled to be registered with the local authorities.

    In November, education minister Lord Agnew said the government would published revised draft guidance on home-schooling – as well as the outcome of the consultation on out-of-school settings.

    The Gateshead Rav, Rabbi Shraga Feivel Zimmerman, said in a recent interview that some Chasidic groups were already home-schooling their children, with institutions running only after-school clubs and libraries.

     

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