The Mayor of Hackney has demanded urgent action from the government to deal with the problem of unregistered educational institutions.
Philip Glanville echoed the call made in a report published on Friday by a council commission following investigations of more than a year.
Hackney estimates there could be as many as 35 unregistered yeshivot in the north London borough which houses the large Charedi population of Stamford Hill, although strictly Orthodox spokesmen say the number is much lower.
The yeshivot argue they are not schools under the current legal definition and hence are not required to register with the secular authorities.
Mr Glanville said, “Both the council and the community must reflect on the content of this report, but primarily, the government must act on the issue of unregistered settings, as a matter of urgency.”
The Mayor said “we champion and reflect Hackney's diversity and want the Charedi community to continue to flourish and prosper in Hackney, but there does need to be a frank discussion about how a more fully rounded approach to education could make the community more economically sustainable in the long term.”
Although the Department for Education has insisted sufficient powers are available to tackle what it called “illegal schools,” both Hackney and Ofsted have said they are hampered by the current state of the law. The commission described the law as “woefully inadequate”.
Councillor Chris Kennedy, who chaired the commission inquiry, said it had followed a “series of incidents”, including the rescue of a group of Charedi teenagers by the Kent Coastguard in summer 2016 after they became trapped by an incoming tide during an outing.
Mr Kennedy said, “We’ve made a number of recommendations and have been clear that the council needs to continue to do all it can to work with the Charedi community to ensure the safety of all our children.
He added: “However, the government holds the key to enable local and national agencies to bring unregistered settings into compliance, and I would echo the council’s repeated calls for them to do something about this situation.”