Ronson slams ‘misleading’ school report
A HIGH-LEVEL report into the future of Jewish schooling has been criticised by Gerald Ronson, president of the planned cross-communal Jewish secondary school (JCoSS).
The Jewish Leadership Council’s education commission warned last week of a large over-supply of places at Jewish schools in a decade if current entry levels continue.
Mr Ronson — a member of the JLC thoughnotonthecommission—writes in a letter to the JC that JCoSS welcomes the document’s publication.
“It is entirely unsurprising that the report concludes there is an oversupply of places directed at what it describes as the mainstream Orthodox market,” he says.
But he adds: “What is surprising and disappointing is that the report has so little to say about the total lack of supply for a section of the market which is growing: Reform, Liberal, Masorti and Sephardi Jews and Orthodox Jews who favour a pluralist approach.
“To lump these parents together with mainstream Orthodox is misleading in the extreme.”
JCoSS is due to open as a state-aided school in East Barnet in 2010 with 1,260 places, plus 50 in a Norwood-run unit.
The commission’s report — available on the JLC website www.jlc.gb.com — says that the take-up of places at Jewish secondary schools in London will need to almost double in a decade to avoid empty desks. One option will be to admit children from other faiths.
Simon Hochhauser, president of the United Synagogue — the denominational authority for a number of schools — said the report raised “some very serious issues”, adding: “We must as a community recognise that there are clearly supply-anddemand issues. Ultimately, the number and the nature of schools will be determined by the market.”
JCoSS would clearly have an effect on applications to existing schools including United Synagogue institutions, such as JFS, he said. But he stressed: “It is not our policy to lobby against the opening of a Jewish school.”
As for admitting children from other faiths, he said: “Our policy is to support single-faith, and only single-faith, schools.”