Bid sub­mit­ted for new Jewish sec­ondary school

The Jewish Chronicle - - EDUCATION - BY SI­MON ROCKER

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

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