Family & Education

DfE investigates London school trip to Wales

Residential school trips should 'not be taking place', the Department for Education says


The Department for Education is investigating a trip a made by a Charedi school in London to Wales this week.

Beis Medrash Elyon, a small independent school for boys from 11 to 16 in Hendon, is said to have organised a two-day stay for pupils in Llandudno..

A spokesman for the Department for Education said, “Residential school trips should not be taking place at this time. We will be contacting the school to establish the facts and, if necessary, remind them of their responsibilities.”

But the school defended its action, releasing a statement on Friday. "Prior to the trip taking place a full risk assessment was carried out. Every single element of our trip was well within the law - bubbles, social distancing and all appropriate safety measures were in place," it said. 

"Our insurers approved it; the coach company and their insurer approved it; the residential facility and their insurer approved it."

The school said it took the emotional well-being of its students "very seriously and are aware of the emotional impact lockdown has had. The trip was a way helping families cope with these uncertain times."

According to social distancing rules in Wales, self-catering accommodation is open as long as it does “not require guests to share washing facilities, toilets or kitchens”.

The Welsh Government's current advice is "against domestic trips - residential and non-residential - for children under 18 organised by education settings".

The North Welsh seaside town has become popular with Charedi visitors, especially from Manchester. Lubavitch have a retreat centre there and the Viznitz Rebbe from Bnei Brak in Israel has a home, where he spends part of the summer.

Two years ago, Elyon received a warning notice from the DfE over failure to meet independent school standards after it was judged inadequate by Ofsted.

A follow-up inspection found improvements and said there was a “strong culture of safeguarding” but noted that the school’s leaders were clear that pupils could not discuss issues such as sexual orientation.

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