Ron­son slams ‘mis­lead­ing’ school re­port

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY SI­MON ROCKER

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 — 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.”

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