New places will not e de­rail school bid

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY SI­MON ROCKER

THE AN­NOUNCE­MENT this week of planned ad­di­tional places at ex­ist­ing Jewish sec­ondary schools has not de­terred a fresh bid to open a new school.

Sup­port­ers of the ap­pli­ca­tion, which was re­jected in De­cem­ber, hope to reap­ply in the spring.

The cross-com­mu­nal JCoSS will of­fer an ad­di­tional 30 places this Septem­ber and JFS is ready to do like­wise to meet ris­ing de­mand in north-west Lon­don.

The Jewish Lead­er­ship Coun­cil’s ed­u­ca­tion di­vi­sion, Part­ner­ship for Jewish Schools, said other Jewish schools were now col­lab­o­rat­ing over a longert­erm so­lu­tion to en­sure there would be enough places within the sys­tem.

But Mau­rice Ashke­nazi-Bakes, co­or­di­na­tor of the Ka­vanah Col­lege free school pro­posal, in­sisted it was “full steam ahead”.

An­drew Roten­berg, an­other Ka­vanah team mem­ber, said he was pleased at the “short-term fix” of up to 60 ad­di­tional places this year. But

he stressed “that still does not solve the longer term need. Un­til there is a clear pub­lic com­mit­ment from the ex­ist­ing schools to pro­vide a spe­cific num­ber of ad­di­tional places in fu­ture years, I don’t ex­pect pri­mary school par­ents whose chil­dren are not in Year 6 to be com­forted by the an­nounce­ment.”

Ka­vanah and a sec­ond Jewish free school ap­pli­cant, Barkai Col­lege, were both re­jected by the De­part­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion in De­cem­ber partly be­cause of the “dis­pro­por­tion­ate” amount of Jewish stud­ies and He­brew they timetabled — even though it was no more than in ex­ist­ing Jewish schools.

A spokesman for the Board of Deputies said it had been fol­low­ing up the is­sue “with min­is­ters and of­fi­cials”.

But a gov­ern­ment source has in­di­cated the true rea­son for turn­ing down both pro­pos­als was that the state did not wish to de­cide which school was bet­ter for the Jewish com­mu­nity.

Mr Ashke­nazi-Bakes said since the re­jec­tion of the orig­i­nal bids ,“con­ver­sa­tions” had taken place with Barkai. As for the two groups sup­port­ing a sin­gle, joint ap­pli­ca­tion, he added: “The door is open.”

Barkai’s team will meet next month to de­cide their po­si­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Pa­jes, the num­ber of Jewish ap­pli­cants to main­stream Jewish sec­on­daries in Lon­don is ex­pected to in­crease from 1,057 last year to 1,191 in Septem­ber 2020 — an in­crease of 134.

While the ed­u­ca­tional agency is confident enough places will be made avail­able in ex­ist­ing schools, it could not yet spec­ify which will be in a po­si­tion to ex­pand longer-term — apart from Has­monean, which hopes to in­crease its in­take by 30 in a few years.

Rabbi David Meyer, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Pa­jes, said the ex­pan­sion plan would “en­sure a cost-ef­fec­tive longterm pro­vi­sion for our chil­dren”.

JCoSS will in­crease its of­fers from 180 to 210 for 2017 en­try, while JFS is ready to in­crease its in­take from 300 to 330 if the need arises.

Pa­trick Mo­ri­arty, head­teacher of JCoSS, hoped the ex­tra places would “go some way to re­liev­ing the pres­sure for many anx­ious fam­i­lies”.

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