Anti-Schools Bill petition backed by 10,000 people handed to education secretary

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Anti-Schools Bill petition backed by 10,000 people handed to education secretary

Leaders of the UK Charedi community oppose parts of the new bill designed to make religious institutions accountable.

Petition was delivered to the office of the Secretary of State for Education.
Petition was delivered to the office of the Secretary of State for Education.

A petition signed by thousands of members of the strictly-Orthodox community has been handed to the Department for Education, opposing sections of the new Schools Bill designed to make religious institutions accountable.

Rabbi Elyokim Schlesinger signed the cover letter for the petition sent to the Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi.

Levi Weiss of the Rabbinical Committee of the Traditional Charedi Education in UK said: “The Charedi population in the UK is alarmed about the contents and objectives of the proposed Schools Bill after it became known last month. In London and Manchester, where there are large Charedi populations, many special prayer sessions have been held.”

Mr Naftoli Friedman, an executive member of the RCTCC, said:”We believe the bill aims to transform our religious centres into ordinary schools. The DfE should consider that many current school regulations are in contradiction with our religion.”

The government’s Bill will close a loophole which exists at the moment allowing yeshivot to teach a narrow religious curriculum because they do not count as schools under the present definition of the law.

As a result, they are exempt from registration with the Department of Education and they are not subject to Ofsted visits.

More than a thousand Charedi boys aged 13 and above in Stamford Hill are estimated to be currently learning in institutions beyond the reach of state scrutiny and standards.

The government will also be given powers to suspend schools where there are serious safeguarding failures.

Schools will also be instructed to teach children on LGBT issues.

However, members of the Charedi community say Ofsted is failing their schools because of their adherence to religious principles. The community says both juvenile crime issues, as well as low academic achievement, are rare among Orthodox Jewish youth.

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