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Orthodox oppose education training courses

    Training courses for strictly Orthodox nursery school teachers have come under renewed attack because of material relating to child abuse.

    Opponents have circulated a letter from the Rabbinical Council of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations warning of the danger of NVQ courses.

    But Hindy Lew, manager of Vista Education and Training, one of the institutions which runs NVQ courses for the Charedi community, said: "The way we teach it, there is no reason for people to be agitating against it."

    The letter appears similar to one issued in March last year signed by the secretary of the Rabbinical Council, Rabbi David Halpern: the latest copy obtained by the JC, however, has its date blotted out.

    Its distribution illustrates differences of opinion within the strictly Orthodox community over how far to go in meeting requirements for secular qualifications.

    According to government rules, half the staff in a nursery school must be trained to at least NVQ level two and at least one member should have attended a course on child protection.

    While the rabbinical council may be concerned, the official rabbinate of the Union has not issued any ruling against the NVQ courses. The council is a forum, whereas the rabbinate represents its religious authority.

    Mrs Lew said that about 75 students a year from London's strictly Orthodox community were attending Vista's NVQ courses. "Provided they are taught by people who understand the community, there is no problem," she said.

    Vista, which has run courses for many years, now holds classes at the new Lubavitch Children's Centre in Stamford Hill, North London.

    Cache, the agency which validates children's care and development courses, has rated Vista courses as outstanding for a second successive year in a row.

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