Ofsted, the UK Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, has announced issuing warnings against three unregistered Jewish schools in the Borough of Hackney, norh London. Stamford Hill, a neighborhood in the borough, is known for its Hasidic community, the largest concentration of Haredi Jews in Europe. The area has one of highest birthrates in the UK—more than 25 per 1,000, twice the UK average.
The Jewish Chronicle on Friday quoted an Ofsted report that an unregistered Haredi school which had been shut down following an investigation has reopened without authorization.
Ofsted reported issuing warning notices to “three suspected unregistered Jewish schools” in Hackney, north London, since last year’s crack down on unauthorized schools.
The Jewish Chronicle quotes an Ofsted official who said that one of the schools “has subsequently registered with the Department for Education (DfE) and is now operating within the law; one unregistered school closed but has since reopened; [and] the unregistered schools that continue to operate remain under investigation.”
The Hackney Council estimates there are at least 30 unregistered Haredi schools – a figure which the Chronicle suggests is inflated, based on local ultra-Orthodox sources.
The Chronicle also points to a dispute between the Haredi community and Ofsted as to whether Haredi yeshivas fall under the jurisdiction of the office for standards. The Haredim claim some of their yeshivas are not schools based on the educational system’s definition of the term.
In late June, Ofsted announced that the Vizhnitz girls’ school in north London, catering to 212 students, has failed three inspections, on the grounds it did not meet requirements set out in the Equalities Act. Ofsted reported that students were “shielded from learning about certain differences between people, such as sexual orientation,” which “restricts pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and does not promote equality of opportunity in ways that take account of differing lifestyles.”
UK private schools which fail to meet Ofsted’s requirements for “spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils” face closure.