Rabbi accuses education body of targeting Jewish schools

Rabbi accuses education body of targeting Jewish schools November 18, 2016

At an acrimonious meeting in the London borough of Hackney this week, Rabbi Avraham Pinter, above, attacked Ofsted inspectors, saying that it was “offensive and very patronising” to suggest ultra-Orthodox children attending illegal schools were not getting ‘the best’.
In response to concerns about the physical safety of children in illegal schools voiced at a Hackney council meeting, he said:

I believe that there is an agenda and all this talk about safety is really about social engineering.

According to the The Independent, the number of ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools believed to be operating illegally in the east London borough Hackney now outstrips those which are legal, the council has suggested for the first time.
The admission by a senior education official at a bad-tempered council meeting on Wednesday night has intensified concerns for the safety and welfare of hundreds of children who are being taught in often isolated conditions with little contact for the secular world.
Andrew Lee, Assistant Director of Education Services at Hackney’s education authority the Hackney Learning Trust, said his team had now identified “possibly 35” unregistered ultra-Orthodox schools in the borough, compared with 33 that are legal.
His comments were met with anger from Councillor Abraham Jacobson, a committee member and Orthodox Jew. He said:

I’m streetwise. I know what goes on. I think we’re talking possibly about 12 – maximum. They tend to move from place to place.

Hackney is home to a large ultra-Orthodox Jewish Charedi community, which is regarded as insular and practices a strict 19th-century interpretation of the faith.
Engagement with the secular world is for many deeply taboo.
Those forced to attend illegal schools have reported that they are not taught English or anything secular so they can instead focus on studying the Torah.
One former pupil at an illegal school in Hackney told The Independent he was regularly subject to:

Physical and psychological abuse. They went to extreme length to stop us learning English. Education is all about preparing people to make their own choices. The very ethos of these schools is to do the exact opposite and to isolate people from secular society.

An investigation by The Independent found that the Hackney Learning Trust, Hackney’s education authority, destroyed evidence of children being educated in illegal faith schools at the request of religious institutions.
In a tense exchange, Pinter, a spokesperson for the London Jewish community, accused Ofsted of “targeting the Jewish community” and ignoring the “end result” after pupils had been through the illegal school system.
Ofsted’s  deputy director for unregistered schools Victor Shafiee said:

We are asking them to work within the law.

Shafiee also revealed inspectors had worked to help prepare a case to prosecute an unnamed illegal school in Hackney for repeatedly failing to register with authorities.

Sometimes schools don’t close, they defy that, we pursue that [with prosecution]. The evidence needed to pursue that through the courts is high. We have to work incredibly hard and carefully to make sure the evidence does stack up.

He also hinted the Government would bring forward new legislation to deal with unregistered schools more effectively.

The Department for Education is working hard to strengthen our legal powers so we can close the settings [illegal schools] immediately rather than go through the courts. We’re hoping to sort that out very soon.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

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  • Broga

    This is all about control. Brainwash children; keep them ignorant and feed them scary fantasies that will keep them subservient. Then the religious leaders enjoy the delicious feeling of exercising untrammelled power and being flattered and admired.
    I doubt if much will change. Must not upset religious sensitivities. Too bad that the children grow up immature, emotionally stunted and unable to lead a full life.

  • Marcus

    Who needs a full life, Broga, when you can have a full beard?

  • Graham Martin-Royle

    Typical religion, wanting exemptions from the law & to be treated as a special case with special privileges.

  • Daz

    In a tense exchange, Pinter, a spokesperson for the London Jewish community, accused Ofsted of “targeting the Jewish community” and ignoring the “end result” after pupils had been through the illegal school system.

    Even if the result is as good as Pinter wishes to imply (which I doubt), this is basically saying that the ends justify the means.

  • L.Long

    Again! Why is religion given ANY respect for anything!!????!!

  • StephenJP

    @Broga:and then what happens? Are any of these poor kids capable of earning a living in the world outside their confined community? Who are they allowed to marry, and what are the consequences of marrying within such a small genetic pool? And who picks up the bill for the outcome?
    At least these people keep it within their own community, even if it ends up in damaging them. Unlike some others, they don’t try to impose it on the rest of society.

  • L.Long

    Who supports these people?? If they can do much how do they go past 1 year???

  • barriejohn

    I knew Christians like him: they are answerable to “a higher law”. I expect they agree with the Chief Rabbi as well, though they didn’t always lay all their cards on the table as he has:
    Is this what good little Jewish boys are being taught?

  • I’ll bet there’s a Jewish nation where Jewish people can attend Jewish schools and learn Judaism with no meddling from people who are not Jewish. I’d just bet there is.
    But religion is always about sharing. What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine. Jews, Muslims, Christians, they all want it all. So they have their nations and they want your nation too.

  • bill

    Social Engineering. That’s rich coming from a fundamentalist.

  • andym

    Depressingly predictable play of the race card. Jews are being “targeted.” If the schools are so good, why not register,be inspected and prove it?
    One of them talks about how the schools move about. Why? To avoid scrutiny perchance? Anyone reminded of another case of religious abuse of children where the perpetrators were protected by being moved around by their bosses?

  • barriejohn

    @andym: His remarks are an insult to the millions of Jews who died in the gas chambers, and those who are most definitely being “targeted” by the appalling rise of anti-Semitism in Europe today. He actually WANTS different rules for Jewish schools. Why? I can tell you from personal experience that the religious think that they “own” their children. Evidence here (yesterday):

  • Bill Bonk

    Religion poisons everything … never was a more apposite phrase coined.

  • Bill Bonk

    There will be no peace, no integration, no equality until the incubators of hatred, faith schools, are phased out and the pious prohibited from interfering with curricula and access to school premises. Get the RCC out of schools, CoE out, Jews out, Muslims out. Get the schools under secular control. And get rid of the Governor System. I know how the evangelists and fundamentalists infiltrate the system to pressurise Heads, Teachers and Education Authorities. Until then we will continue to poison kids minds with evil and dangerous religious dogma.

  • Newspaniard

    The French did it through their elected representatives, why can’t we? We have got to have a compulsory secular education system preferably without any religious education and certainly no strange dress decorations. If those of religion want to further indoctrinate their children with the knowledge of their beliefs then let them do it outside school hours. Hopefully this will get the children questioning the beliefs of the fundamentalists.

  • barriejohn

    Bill Bonk: When I was teaching, the three local ministers (Methodist, RC, and Anglican) were ex officio governors, and addressed the whole school (about 1,000 pupils) in turn at assembly every Friday morning. I have linked to the Association of Muslim Governors (a charity) here before, but they don’t seem to be putting their information on the internet now (I wonder why?). I did find this, though, as an example of what is going on right under our noses, and I have also mentioned before overhearing the local vicar bragging to another cleric (prior to my father’s funeral) that they were getting church members onto all the local governing bodies here. That’s how they work.

  • andym

    @ barrie. It’s similar, although not on the same scale, to when the likes of the idiot Carey cite “persecution” of Christians when any aspect of their privilege is challenged. Meanwhile , Christians, mainly in the Islamic world, face real persecution and death for following their faith. The likes of Carey want to keep non-Christian , religious organisations (who often claim , without evidence, to represent the majority of their respective faiths) onside as part of a wider ideology ; that all religion is threatened by “militant secularism.”For “militant secularism” read any attempt to support the religious freedom of belief, but no freedom to impose that that belief.