Schools in cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment claim

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY SI­MON ROCKER

FOR­MER MEM­BERS of the Charedi com­mu­nity have told the govern­ment that some un­reg­is­tered Ortho­dox schools and yeshivot are us­ing cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment on their pupils.

The Gesh­erEU Sup­port Net­work, a char­ity set up to help peo­ple leave the strictly Ortho­dox com­mu­nity, called for tighter con­trol over such in­sti­tu­tions in a sub­mis­sion to a Depart­ment for Education con­sul­ta­tion.

The char­ity said it be­lieved that “cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment is still in use in a num­ber of the yeshivot and un­reg­is­tered ul­tra-Ortho­dox pri­mary schools” in which it es­ti­mated as many as 4,000 boys and 1,500 girls could be study­ing.

Its ev­i­dence in­cluded the anony­mous tes­ti­mony of some­one said to have at­tended one such pri­mary school.

He claimed: “We would sit all day long and study religious texts. No sec­u­lar stud­ies were taught at all.

“The hygiene stan­dards were aw­ful. The toi­lets stank; I never ever used them dur­ing all th­ese years and I suf­fered ter­ri­bly from is­sues in­volv­ing hold­ing back. The food was hardly ed­i­ble, the class­rooms were old, and over­crowded.

“Hit­ting chil­dren was part of rou­tine; I per­son­ally was hit al­most on a daily ba­sis.”

Cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment was banned in Bri­tish state schools in 1987, and in all pri­vate schools by 2003.

Gesh­erEU told the DfE that it be­lieved that unau­tho­rised schools and yeshivot “do not pro­mote Bri­tish val­ues and do not equip their stu­dents for life in mod­ern Bri­tain.

“In many cases they do not even teach them to speak English or sim­ple arith­metic. They teach in Yid­dish.

“We have to sup­port young men that do not have one GCSE to their name, can­not get a job, and have no skills to man­age their lives.”

Such in­sti­tu­tions should be sub­ject to Of­sted in­spec­tions and pupils should take the same tests in English, maths and sci­ence as they do in state-aided pri­mary schools, the char­ity said.

But it ac­cused Of­sted of fail­ing to bring about change even in some reg­is­tered Charedi in­de­pen­dent schools which con­tin­ued “to teach only in Yid­dish, in­doc­tri­nate the young chil­dren and fail to teach the ba­sics”.

It is il­le­gal to teach chil­dren un­der the age of 16 in an un­reg­is­tered school for 20 or more hours a week, al­though some yeshivot have ar­gued that they do not qual­ify as schools.

The con­sul­ta­tion — which closed this week — was launched by the DfE over plans to ex­tend reg­is­tra­tion and in­spec­tion to part-time in­sti­tu­tions teach­ing more than six to eight hours a week.

In the­ory, that could in­clude some syn­a­gogue re­li­gion classes al­though the vast ma­jor­ity do not teach that many hours.

In its re­sponse to the con­sul­ta­tion, Board of Deputies pres­i­dent Jonathan Arkush said it re­mained con­cerned about anec­do­tal ev­i­dence of anti-Jewish teach­ing in some Mus­lim sup­ple­men­tary schools.

He said that there were “no con­cerns about ex­trem­ism be­ing taught in Jewish sup­ple­men­tary schools or in Jewish youth groups”.

Nava Kesten­baum, of the Charedi In­ter­link Foun­da­tion, said: “I am not aware of any Ortho­dox Jewish schools or yeshivas that use cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment, nor would it be con­doned.”

Rabbi Avro­hom Pin­ter, one of the se­nior ed­u­ca­tional fig­ures in the com­mu­nity, said: “No school or cheder of any sort has a pol­icy of cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment. If there were an al­le­ga­tion, it would be dealt with very se­ri­ously.”

Hit­ting chil­dren was rou­tine. I was hit al­most on a daily ba­sis.

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