An investigation has been launched into claims an Orthodox Jewish school in Stamford Hill, where teachers refuse to teach in English, is still open despite being ordered to shut down.
Talmud Torah Tashbar, which teaches 231 boys aged three to 13, has been operating illegally as an unregistered school for 40 years.
The government in January ordered the school to close its doors for good after a damning Ofsted report found it failed to meet “minimum standards”.
But children have been spotted entering and leaving the school, which teaches more than 200 boys aged three to 13.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “If Talmud Torah Tashbar is still found to be operating as a school, we will not hesitate to take action. We are investigating.”
She added: “It is illegal to operate an unregistered school and we are being proactive in taking unprecedented and direct action against them across the board to protect children.
Ofsted inspectors said the curriculum, taught exclusively in Hebrew, promoted “cultural and ethnic insularity because it is so narrow and almost exclusively rooted in the study of the Torah”.
The report judged the school’s curriculum would “severely restrict the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils” and prevent them from “developing a wider, deeper understanding of different faiths, communities, cultures and lifestyles, including those of England”.
The school applied to register as a private school but was unsuccessful and ordered to shut down by 12 February.
A Hackney Council spokesperson said the council was under the impression that children were being home-schooled and that the building was to become a community centre.
“We were told by the proprietor that it would cease operating as a school, that the building is now to be used as a community centre known as the Toireh Centre and that the parents would be home-educating their children,” the spokesperson said.
But the council admitted it has so far failed to track those pupils, despite requesting their names and contact details.
The spokesperson added: “The council has requested the names and contact details of the pupils on roll in order to make contact with the families to offer advice on the options available to them. We have yet to receive this information and remain in correspondence with the setting on this issue.”
The company that managed the school’s finances, Talmud Torah Tashbar Ltd, was dissolved on 26 January. Tashbar Toireh Centre, a new body for “broadcasting Jewish messages of an evangelical and teaching nature” was registered on 18 February.
The school and Tashbar Toireh Centre declined to comment./ 31 March, 2016