£6,000-a-year London school flouted coronavirus rules with Hampstead Heath BBQ

·2-min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

A private school disregarded Covid-19 restrictions and took pupils for a barbecue on Hampstead Heath during the third national lockdown.

Rabbi Kim Jacob Lang, headteacher at the Beis Medrash Elyon school, faced a criminal prosecution for organising a bonfire night gathering with about 75 pupils.

Just a few months earlier, the £6,000-a-year orthodox Jewish school in West Hendon had been admonished by Ofsted for a two-day trip to Llandudno in Wales “in clear breach of guidance”.

Police submitted a series of critical reports to Westminster magistrates court after the Hampstead Heath barbecue, which took place on November 5 last year, when pupils were found “hiding” in trees on the heath and fires were started in the car park of the Jack Straw’s Castle pub.

“The event that the headmaster and school were holding was in contravention of the lockdown regulations”, Pc Felipe Luiz told the court. Rabbi Lang was issued with a £10,000 fine, but police later decided to withdraw the prosecution after discovering that the school is run by a charitable trust.

The Met was called to the rear of the pub, next to Hampstead Heath, after receiving reports of an illegal gathering.

Pc James Lennox said he used his torch to flush out “several dozen children” who were trying to “hide in the woods”.

“I walked into the woods shining my flashlight and shouted at the children to come out,” he said. “They ran behind a small thicket of trees.”

While a school administrator admitted that the event should not have been held, Rabbi Lang was adamant they had “received permission to proceed”.

In July 2020, 73 pupils were taken on a two-day trip to Llandudno, when the school claimed youngsters were kept in “bubbles” and the visit was “to improve pupils’ mental health”.

But Ofsted said the trip was a “clear breach of Government guidance in place at the time of the visit”.

The school has been contacted by the Evening Standard for comment.

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