Bid submitted for new Jewish secondary school
THE CAMPAIGN for a new Jewish secondary school for London is back on track after supporters submitted their application to the Department for Education this week.
The team behind the New Jewish High School Project put in their bid for a Modern Orthodox free school in South Hertfordshire before Monday’s deadline for the next round of free-school applications.
Maurice Ashkenazi-Bakes, chairman of the NJHS team, said: “We believe there is more than enough demand in South Hertfordshire for a new Jewish school that would ensure no child goes without a Jewish school place.
“It would encourage people who have not considered applying to a Jewish school in the area to do so.”
Two years ago, the DfE rejected separate bids for a new Orthodox free school from Barkai College and the United Synagogue-backed Kavanah College.
But believing a unified bid would stand a better chance of success, the two groups subsequently merged.
They have been ready to apply since March last year but the free-school process was delayed because of the 2017 General Election and a change of Education Secretary.
As a free school, NJHS would be able to reserve only half of its places on the basis of faith — although Jewish students would be able to apply on other grounds, such as living near to the school.
But NJHS has stressed it is committed to the “inclusive” ethos of free schools and would make provision for children of other faiths.
According to its website, its team represents a “cross-section” of the Jewish community. Mr Ashkenazi-Bakes, who was previously associated with the Kavanah bid, represents Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue on the Board of Deputies; his wife Lily is a governor at the United Synagogue-supported Hertsmere Jewish Primary. Advisers include Dame Helen Hyde, former head of Watford Grammar School for Girls.
NJHS plans to specialise in Stem subjects: maths, technology and science.
Applications to Jewish secondaries around the capital have risen over the past few years, leading to a demand for additional places. The cross-communal JCoSS has added an extra class in the past two years, JFS accepted a few more students above its official maximum of 300 this year and the fee-paying Immanuel College has enjoyed an increase in intake over the past three years.
According to the latest forecast, applications to mainstream Jewish secondary schools are set to peak in 2020.
The only Jewish secondary school in Hertfordshire, Yavneh College, is heavily oversubscribed and those living outside its catchment area stand little chance of a place.
Maurice AshkenaziBakes at the DfE on Monday