Government announces new laws to protect children following investigation by The Independent into illegal schools

An investigation by The Independent revealed thousands of children have disappeared from the education system to be taught at illegal schools where they are at risk of abuse

The Government is to propose new powers to protect children following an investigation by The Independent which revealed thousands of children are attending illegal faith schools in the UK where they are at risk of abuse.

The Department for Education has confirmed new proposed powers will be brought forward to Parliament with a view to enabling intervention in "unregulated education settings which teach children intensively" and will be included in the forthcoming Home Office Counter Extremism Bill.

In April an investigation by The Independent revealed thousands of children have disappeared from Government records to be taught in illegal ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools. The boys receive only religious education conducted in Yiddish and ‘secular knowledge’ is banned, meaning many leave school unable to speak English and with no qualifications or skills to live independently. Former pupils and whistle blowers told The Independent physical beating of children is common and teachers often encourage pupils to enter arranged marriages upon turning 18.

The children come from ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in north London who believe that following a boy’s bar mitzvah, he should receive only religious education. Daughters tend to continue in legal, registered schools as theological training is not considered as important for women due to interpretations of their social roles as wives and mothers.

The investigation also revealed Hackney Council in London has been aware of the existence of some of these schools since at least 2010 but destroyed records of children going missing at the request of the schools. A senior member of Department for Education staff was aware of this destruction of records but did not act to raise any objections.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “Unregistered schools are illegal and unsafe – and we are taking unprecedented and direct action against them across the board to protect children, inform parents and support teachers. This includes strengthening our guidance to schools on safeguarding, and proposals to change regulations so that schools have a duty to inform local authorities in all circumstances where a pupil is removed from a school register.

“We have also announced an escalation of Ofsted investigations into unregistered schools, a new tougher approach to prosecuting them and a call to local authorities to help identify any setting of concern.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in