Ris­ing de­mand for school places

The Jewish Chronicle - - EDUCATION - BY SI­MON ROCKER

A RECORD num­ber of ap­pli­cants to Jewish state schools in Lon­don ended up with­out a place at one last year, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port.

But more than half the un­suc­cess­ful ap­pli­cants last year with­drew from wait­ing lists — which would have in­cluded many Jewish chil­dren go­ing to fee-pay­ing se­lec­tive schools who ap­plied to a Jewish school as a back-up.

The re­port, Will My Child Get A Place? — which re­leased its ini­tial find­ings last year — is the most in-depth in­ves­ti­ga­tion so far into the cur­rent de­mand for Jewish school­ing.

Pro­jec­tions made by JPR sug­gest that from 100 to 200 new places in the state Jewish sys­tem in and around Lon­don could be needed within four years.

But, although there re­mains a “size­able gap” be­tween parental pref­er­ence and ex­ist­ing ca­pac­ity, the pre­cise num­ber of ad­di­tional places re­quired re­mains hard to de­ter­mine.

Rabbi David Meyer, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Part­ner­ships for Jewish Schools, which com­mis­sioned the re­search, said it “re­in­forces our view that there has to be a strat­egy to ad­dress the po­ten­tial in­crease in de­mand for sec­ondary school places. We are al­ready in dis­cus­sions with stake­hold­ers from all sides to find a long-term, sus­tain­able so­lu­tion.”

Jewish ap­pli­ca­tions to main­stream Jewish state schools rose by 16 per cent from 912 in 2011 to 1057 in 2016. The rise re­flects both a larger pool of el­i­gi­ble Jewish chil­dren and the in­creased pop­u­lar­ity of Jewish school­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to JPR, be­tween 57 per cent to 65 per cent of non-Charedi Jewish chil­dren in Lon­don have ap­plied to Jewish schools in re­cent years.

De­pend­ing on the pro­por­tion who ap­ply in fu­ture, the num­ber of ex­tra ap­pli­cants in four years could vary from three to 199, ac­cord­ing to JPR cal­cu­la­tions. The mid­dle es­ti­mate would be 134.

Authors Jonathan Boyd and Daniel Staet­sky say the re­port shows “a size­able gap be­tween the de­mand for places at Jewish sec­ondary schools in and around Lon­don and those schools’ ca­pac­ity to meet that de­mand”.

They have an­a­lysed the choices of fam­i­lies on the wait­ing lists of two Jewish state schools, JCoSS and Has­monean, last year and used the re­sults to pro­duce an over­all pic­ture which in­cludes JFS and Yavneh Col­lege.

From the wait­ing list of 254 for the four schools, more than half of those, 137, with­drew their names, since ei­ther they ac­cepted a pri­vate or non-Jewish state school or were pos­si­bly in­el­i­gi­ble (54 per cent); 48 kept their names on the list but even­tu­ally went to a non-Jewish state school (around 20 per cent); 38 on the list set­tled for an­other Jewish school

(15 per cent); 23 on the list went to a nonJewish pub­lic school (nine per cent); and eight set­tled for the pri­vate Jewish Im­manuel Col­lege (three per cent).

There would, there­fore, have been nearly 80 chil­dren who re­mained on the wait­ing list for a Jewish state school but

might have ac­cepted a place if one had be­come avail­able, JPR cal­cu­lated.How­ever, that fig­ure may have been lower if the ex­tra places al­lo­cated by Yavneh and Has­monean last year were fac­tored in.

Pro­jected rise in ap­pli­ca­tions to Lon­don Jewish state schools by 2020

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