Family & Education

Yellow star protest against move to register yeshivah students

Charedi activists demonstrate outside Parliament against new Private Member’s Bill


Protest against out-of-school register bill in Westminser

Charedi protesters returned to the streets of Westminster on Friday to oppose what they see as a threat to yeshivah education in the UK.

Some sported yellow stars — associated with the persecution of Jews during the Holocaust — as a proposal for local authorities to register children who are taught in out-of-school settings went before MPs.

An estimated 1,500 boys from 13 to 16 in Stamford Hill learn in unregulated yeshivot where they receive little or no secular education. Under the current law, such institutions are not defined as schools and therefore beyond the scope of the inspection service Ofsted.

But Charedim fear that registration — proposed in a Private Member’s Bill by Conservative MP Flick Drummond which was due to receive its second reading today — will be the thin end of the wedge in bringing yeshivot under state scrutiny.

A spokesman for the protesters said, “We stand here today, compelled by our obligation to defend the sacrosanct rights of parents and their children to an education that is not forced upon them or influenced by ephemeral political and social trends.

“Our dedication to safeguarding religious freedom is unwavering, and we are prepared to face this challenge indefinitely, fully aware of the historical consequences of persecution. We see the current proposal as part of a looming threat to liberty, democracy, and religious freedom, viewing these foundational principles as under siege within our nation.”

Leading rabbis from Stamford Hill and Gateshead had previously made statements to mobilise opposition to the Bill. 

The veteran yeshivah head, Rabbi Elyakim Schlesinger, who is 102, circulated an appeal, urging members of the Charedi community to join today’s protest.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan issued a statement on Friday in support of Ms Drummond for “her brilliant work... which helps to ensure that all children can access a high-quality education, whether at home or in school, so that every child can realise their potential”.

Pledging support for the Bill “as it progresses through Parliament”, the minister said,  “Our plan for every child to get the best start in life is working, and this Bill will help us build on our progress to date.”

Registration would give local authorities a much better idea of the whereabouts of children who are not in registered schools.

The registration idea was originally one of a package of measures contained in the government’s Schools Bill, which bit the dust at the end of 2022, although the government subsequently promised to bring back the measures  in new legislation.

The Schools Bill prompted a number of Charedi protests in Westminster before the government ditched it after opposition in the Lords to new rules on governing academies.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive