PAR­ENTS’ SCHOOL AGONY

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY ROSA DO­HERTY

IT IS Tues­day af­ter­noon and 11-yearold Dy­lan is sit­ting at home in a track­suit, tears run­ning down his cheeks.

He should be at school. But un­like his peers, he has not set foot in a class­room once this aca­demic year, be­cause he doesn’t have a place.

Dy­lan’s par­ents, Sara and Lloyd Joseph, be­long to a Face­book sup­port group, which ear­lier this year rep­re­sented more than 40 fam­i­lies whose chil­dren did not se­cure places at Jewish schools. Ac­cord­ing to them, they are the only ones left whose child is not in full-time ed­u­ca­tion.

Be­fore Dy­lan fin­ished Year Six at Mo­riah Jewish Day School in Pin­ner, he ap­plied for places at Yavneh Col­lege in Bore­ham­wood, JCoSS in Bar­net and JFS in Ken­ton; by Septem­ber, his fam­ily had re­ceived re­jec­tions from all three schools and had failed their ap­peals.

They turned down a place at their lo­cal state school be­cause they wanted a Jewish ed­u­ca­tion for Dy­lan, choos­ing in­stead to home-school him.

But af­ter al­most a term at home and, with no place at a Jewish school in sight, the Josephs have said they are “dev­as­tated” and feel “com­pletely let down by the Jewish school sys­tem”.

Mr s Jo s e p h said: “This st a r t e d in April w h e n Dy l a n didn’t get the places he ap­plied for. Peo­ple told u s i t wa s ‘n o r m a l ’ , that we should ‘hang on’ and a place would come up.

“We have been liv­ing this night­mare ev­ery sin­gle day, watch­ing his friends go off to school while he just sits at home. He has missed a huge chunk of the aca­demic year and we feel trau­ma­tised by the ad­mis­sions process.

“We have writ­ten let­ters, we have ap­pealed, and we have begged to get our son a Jewish ed­u­ca­tion, but no one has done any­thing to help us.”

Mrs Joseph said she has strug­gled to en­gage Dy­lan in school work at home. She said: “It is im­pos­si­ble to mo­ti­vate him.

“He is just dev­as­tated to be miss­ing out. He feels em­bar­rassed and alone.”

The fam­ily were of­fered a place at King Solomon High in Red­bridge, but it is a 48-mile jour­ney from their

home in Bushey. Cou­pled with its rep­u­ta­tion as a school with fewer Jewish pupils than av­er­age — only 43 per cent of the stu­dent body are of the faith — the fam­ily said it was an “im­pos­si­ble” op­tion.

Mrs Joseph said: “He would have had to spend two hours get­ting to and from school, which is not prac­ti­cal or en­joy­able for a child. He would be too ex­hausted to learn.

“And we both work too, so it just would not have been pos­si­ble to drive him and pro­vide for the fam­ily.”

Mr Joseph, who works in con­struc­tion, said: “We feel com­pletely lost and let down.

“We are a tra­di­tional Jewish fam­ily. We have given both our chil­dren a Jewish ed­u­ca­tion since nurs­ery. It is what we want for our son and it is what he is used to.”

The couple, who both went to nonJewish schools, have a nine-year-old daugh­ter, Josie, who is at Mo­riah Jewish Pri­mary. They said that pay­ing for pri­vate ed­u­ca­tion was “not an op­tion”.

Mrs Joseph, a beauty ther­a­pist, said: “Lloyd has just got a job again af­ter 18 months of un­em­ploy­ment, which was very stress­ful for the fam­ily, and we can’t af­ford pri­vate.”

Speak­ing about the stress that home­school­ing has placed on the fam­ily, she said: “It has been really hard.

“We have paid for a tu­tor, but it is ex­pen­sive and is not some­thing we can af­ford ev­ery day. I never thought it would get to this point.

‘We have been liv­ing this night­mare ev­ery sin­gle day’

The Joseph fam­ily ( left to right): Josie, Sara, Dy­lan and Lloyd, and (bot­tom left) Josie and Dy­lan

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