Two new Jewish schools

Two new Jewish schools
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Haringey Jewish Primary School (HJPS) and Mill Hill Jewish Primary School (MHJPS) are preparing to take in 30 and 60 children respectively next September.

Both were selected as self-governing state primary schools under the Department for Education’s (DfE) free schools programme, which says schools have to offer up to 50 per cent of places to children who are not Jewish.

Adam Dawson, the founder of MHJPS, which will be under the Office of the Chief Rabbi, said: “We are lobbying the government to try and ensure there aren’t restrictions on our ability to select children from families which share our ethos, which is very much the Mill Hill United Synagogue model.

“We are also outside the domain of Barnet Council as our funding comes from Central Government, so we wouldn’t have to fill our places should we not wish to.” He added: “We will start with a nursery and reception class, hopefully next September, as we are very hopeful of securing a site in Mill Hill by December.”

Jon Benjamin, of the Board of Deputies, said: “We are still pressing the DfE to change this 50 per cent policy and if the free school model is to work for Jewish schools then the government has to appreciate how critical this issue is.”

However, a DfE spokesman said that “while we are happy for free schools with an Orthodox ethos to prioritise there must be an allocation for the non-Orthodox”. He added that schools “must fill all their places unless there is a good and fair reason”.

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, said at the Chief Rabbi’s Annual Conference for the UK Rabbinate last week that he “fully supported” Jewish faith schools.

The founder of HJPS, Peter Kessler, is “delighted” that Haringey will have a Jewish school for the first time and said it would “welcome non-Jewish children with open arms”.

“Children will learn about wider faith. We don’t believe that Jewish children should live in an exclusive Jewish environment. They must come into contact with non-Jews,” he said.

He has also pledged that the school will be “independent of any Jewish denomination and equally open to all Jews”.

“We will welcome children from across the spectrum of Jewish life on an absolutely equal basis.”

He added: “The standard of Jewish Studies will be on a par with the very best schools and the food will be Kashrut acceptable to even Orthodox families.”

The school has had 148 registrations of interest for 2011-2015, almost all of whom are Jewish. He expects to secure a site in Muswell Hill next month, and for the school to reach a capacity of 210 after seven years.

This week also saw the opening of cross-communal school JCoSS. The first 150 Year Seven pupils entered the New Barnet school from as varied places as Redbridge, Northwood and even Tel Aviv.

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