Britain’s Department for Education has ordered a haredi Orthodox Jewish school in north London to close by next month.
The Charedi Talmud Torah Tashbar school, according to this report, has operated illegally for 40 years, does not teach children English and, according to inspectors, was failing to meet “minimum” standards.
The school, which has more than 200 students, encourages “cultural and ethnic insularity because it is so narrow and almost exclusively rooted in the study of the Torah,” inspectors said following an investigation of the school.
Inspectors said the school was founded to prevent students from:
Developing a wider, deeper understanding of different faiths, communities, cultures and lifestyles, including those of England.
Sir Michael Wilshaw, the education department’s chief inspector of schools, said in December that the country’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills may also prosecute those running unregistered Islamic religious schools.
The Independent adds that the school’s failings are spelt out in a series of Ofsted reports after it applied to be a private school. The reports between 2012-14 were disclosed under Freedom of Information requests.
According to the reports, the school states that it does not allow pupils to learn English, nor provide for any secular education:
As a matter of religious principle.
Despite the school failing to meet the minimum standards three times, it was allowed to continue operating.
The British Humanist Association, which campaigns for a crackdown on all illegal “faith” schools, welcomed the decision but called on the Education Secretary to move against scores of other schools like it.
We’re glad that the Government has now moved to shut this particular school down … However, there are clearly many more out there just like it.
The situation revealed by these reports is simply outrageous and those in government who have failed to act in the past ought to be ashamed of themselves for standing idly by while thousands of children have their childhoods stolen.
Every year, every month, every week that these places are allowed to stay open, a huge number of children remain isolated, indoctrinated, and very likely abused, so we will certainly be writing to the Government to ask that action is taken far more swiftly in the case of other schools than it has been here.
A Department for Education spokesman said:
It is a criminal offence to operate an unregistered independent school. This school’s application for registration has been rejected and on 30 December it was informed of this decision. It has been told to close by 12 February.
The school was unavailable for comment.
Note: The photo used to illustrate this report shows Ultra Orthodox students gesturing as they pray during a reading class at the Kehilot Yaacov Torah School for boys in Ramot, Jerusalem.