JFS head: ‘no need for a new school’

The Jewish Chronicle - - EDUCATION - BY SI­MON ROCKER

THE EX­EC­U­TIVE head­teacher of JFS has dis­missed the need for a new Jewish school at the same as seek­ing to re­as­sure par­ents about plans to ex­pand her own.

Deb­o­rah Lip­kin wrote to par­ents fol­low­ing last week’s an­nounce­ment of the pro­posal to in­crease year-seven en­try to JFS from 300 to 360 in 2018 in or­der to meet an ex­pected rise in de­mand in the Jewish sys­tem.

But sup­port­ers of the New Jewish High School, who hope to ap­ply shortly to open a Jewish sec­ondary free school in north-west Lon­don, main­tain theirs is the bet­ter op­tion.

Mrs Lip­kin ar­gued that the in­creased num­ber of Jewish pri­mary schools would not nec­es­sar­ily trans­late into hun­dreds of new ap­pli­cants to Jewish sec­ondary schools in fu­ture.

While JFS cur­rently ac­cepted around 100 stu­dents an­nu­ally from non-Jewish pri­maries, she an­tic­i­pated this fig­ure would drop as a higher pro­por­tion of chil­dren in­stead went to Jewish pri­mary schools. “The re­sult of this un­cer­tainty is that the true level of need is un­cer­tain and there­fore does not ne­ces­si­tate the open­ing of a new school,” she said.

She con­tended any new school would need to raise “many mil­lions of pounds” within the community be­yond any govern­ment sup­port. “This is along­side a ma­jor fundrais­ing drive to re­build both Has­monean and Kisharon — there is only so much money to go around.” In­creas­ing the in­take of ex­ist­ing schools would en­able “more con­trol over the long-term sup­ply of Jewish school places”, given the pool of main­stream Jewish chil­dren is fore­cast to con­tract af­ter five years.

“We do not be­lieve a new school should be built to meet a short—term and un­spec­i­fied de­mand,” she said.

Par­ents were promised “full con­sul­ta­tion” on the JFS ex­pan­sion plan, while a work­ing party af­ter Pe­sach will be­gin ex­plor­ing fund­ing and lo­gis­tics such as the pro­vi­sion of pub­lic trans­port. “We do an­tic­i­pate that there is suf­fi­cient de­mand and sup­port from both cen­tral and lo­cal govern­ment to ad­dress many of these chal­lenges,” she said.

Ad­dress­ing con­cerns over the size of JFS, she said its lead­er­ship was be­ing or­gan­ised so that “all ar­eas of school life can be com­part­men­talised into three smaller schools within a school”.

If the school ex­panded, it would re­ceive ad­di­tional in­come and pro­duce “in­creased economies of scale”, she said.

Mean­while, it has had to lop over £1 mil­lion off its bud­get of more than £16 mil­lion — despite rais­ing nearly £1 mil­lion from its gala din­ner and from other gifts from phi­lan­thropists and par­ents.

The school has ex­pe­ri­enced a drop in lo­cal author­ity pay­ments for spe­cial needs as well as the loss of tax re­lief on parental con­tri­bu­tions to­wards Jewish stud­ies. While its cen­tral govern­ment grant has re­mained static, it has had to cope with in­creased na­tional in­sur­ance and pen­sion con­tri­bu­tions for staff.

Mrs Lip­kin said a re­cently se­cured do­na­tion could be used only for building ad­di­tional class­rooms and not to pre­vent re­dun­dan­cies among staff.

Be­sides the pro­posed ex­pan­sion of JFS, JCoSS plans to make its bulge class of 30 ex­tra places this year per­ma­nent.

But Mau­rice Ashke­nazi-Bakes, joint leader of the free school bid, said that on the ba­sis of last week’s re­port on

Deb­o­rah Lip­kin

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