Why all this demand for new Jewish schools? It’s
not like lots of Jewish immigrants have suddenly arrived, in fact quite the
I don’t think people recently found religion, got more orthodox after all sales
of Kosher meat haven’t gone up? Jewish schools aren’t cheap, I know that too
well, and every ones having a hard time now. Most Jewish parents were always
happy sending their kids to state schools, leaving the Jewish bit for Sunday mornings.
Short on teachers too, they were never short of teachers before. So what
happened in the last ten years?
By Simon Rocker, October 27, 2011
A senior Jewish educator has questioned the wisdom of opening more Jewish
primary schools in north London, warning that it could store up
problems for the future.
Susy Stone, head of the Progressive Akiva School in Finchley, said:
“It is clear to me that the rush to create more Jewish schools is a
dangerous strategy for the community. Are we going to open so many
schools that we are not going to be able to maintain the excellent
standards we have in our schools now?”
Predicted cuts in local authority education spending could leave
existing voluntary-aided schools like Akiva facing a squeeze in funding,
Although school budgets had largely been cushioned from the impact of cuts so far, “that is not going to continue”.
If more schools opened, “how are we going to resource all these? Are
we taking on commitments for the future that are not sustainable?
Another issue is whether we will be able to fill all these schools. And
is it morally responsible when we have an ageing Jewish community to put
more money into building schools rather than social services?”
Three new Jewish primary schools serving the mainstream sector opened
this autumn in north London and Herts, with two more to follow next
Finchley parents have begun a campaign to start a cross-communal school.
Although Akiva was heavily oversubscribed this year with 127
applications for 60 places, it recently rejected the idea of opening a
third entry form after assessing future demand.
“I can understand the feelings of parents who can’t get their child
into the Jewish school of their choice,” Mrs Stone said. “It’s
heartbreaking to see children who can’t get into my school.”
The economic climate meant that schools needed to co-operate more to
maintain services — such as behavioural support — cut by the local
authority, she argued. But opening too many schools could increase
Adam Dawson, chair of the new Etz Chaim free school in Mill Hill,
believed that leaders of Jewish schools had a responsibility to “work
more closely together”. But he pointed out that Etz Chaim had opened
only after “a lot of research” indicated local demand.
“It depends on whether you think schools should be local or whether
you bus children about. Are there places in Jewish primary schools in
other parts of London? I am sure there are. But parents have told us
they don’t want their four-year-old having to go on a bus to school for
an hour in the morning.”