Response to Dispatches - Faith Schools Undercover: No Clapping in Class

Hackney Town Hall

Following the Dispatches programme which featured unregistered Charedi yeshiva schools - broadcast on Channel 4 on 14 July - Hackney Council made the following statement:

“Our concerns about these schools date back many years, and we’ve been working with the DfE and Ofsted to try and engage with them, ensuring they provide the education and care to which all our children have the right. Councils’ powers in these situations are very limited; we have no powers of enforcement in relation to private education arrangements.

"Any action would have to come from the Department for Education and we have been working closely with them over several years. That work has so far led to 11 of these twelve schools either being visited by Ofsted, being invited to register or having entered the pre-registration stage.

"We take the welfare of all pupils extremely seriously and all allegations are thoroughly investigated."


  • Hackney’s Charedi Orthodox Jewish community is the largest in Europe, and is a long established and important part of our borough’s community, accounting for around 10% of our population.


  • We are fully aware of the many issues that arise from the Charedi approach to education, and the Council actively engages with organisations within the community wherever possible. The welfare of every child in the borough is our priority and we take all concerns very seriously.  


  • The boys to which Dispatches refer have not “gone missing from the state system” because they were never on the roll of a state school. Charedi boys are almost exclusively educated in independent schools from primary level onwards. Some parents have chosen to send their boys to unregistered schools and local authorities have no powers to intervene.   Local authorities have no way of tracking pupils who have never attended a state school. This situation also applies for all pupils attending independent schools, including Eton.


  • When local authorities become aware of an unregistered school, they have a duty to report it to the Department for Education. Hackney Council has always reported every case of which we have been made aware.  Councils have no further powers unless they have been made aware of a specific safeguarding allegation. Hackney has been working closely with the DfE regarding this issue and some progress has been made in terms of getting the schools to engage with Ofsted.


  • Any implied similarity between Charedi yeshivas and the alleged ‘Trojan Horse’ situation in Birmingham is inappropriate. Yeshivas do not attempt to establish themselves through takeovers of existing mainstream schools.


  • Yeshivas are established by the Charedi community to educate their boys in their traditions and beliefs. Like all independent schools, they are not required to follow the national curriculum.