A London council’s education authority destroyed evidence of children being educated in illegal faith schools at the request of religious institutions, The Independent can reveal.
The Department for Education has been aware of the problem since 2010 but does not appear to have taken any steps to act against the destruction of these records.
An investigation by The Independent also found that more than 1,000 children are missing from schools in London and are at risk of abuse in illegal faith schools. The schools are ultra-Orthodox Jewish faith schools at which boys are placed from the age of 13, and where they receive no education beyond studying religious texts. A number of pupils leave school with little or no ability to speak English, and few – if any – qualifications or skills which equip them to work, or live independently.
Former pupils, campaigners and whistleblowers say that the schools have been operating in plain sight without government action for more than 40 years, despite the fact that running a non-registered school is a criminal offence, and physical violence and sexual abuse of children is alleged to have taken place inside the schools.
A redacted 'Action of Note' of a meeting between representatives from the Department for Education and Hackney Learning Trust reveals that both bodies have been aware of the issue for at least six years. Hackney Learning Trust is a private company in Hackney Council’s Children and Young People’s Service, which describes itself as having responsibility for the council’s “entire education function”. At a meeting in May 2010, the issue of ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools operating illegally in Hackney was raised. The Trust’s own 'Action of Note' of the meeting record authorities admitting at this meeting that they destroyed evidence of the abuse at the request of Jewish schools.