Unnatural justice

October 18, 2012

The role of school governor is thankless - a position of great responsibility and very little reward. But grateful as we should be that there are those who are prepared to give their time and expertise to do the job, that does not exempt them from criticism when they err. And err is exactly what the governors of Clore Shalom have done in effectively expelling five Jewish children. The school maintains that the ruling by the Adjudicator compels it to remove five of the 30 children at nursery. But this is sophistry. There are a number of better, fairer options open to them.

They could do what Rosh Pinah and Hertsmere have done, and apply to the local authority for one-off "bulge funding" for extra places. They could extend the consultation period, since it is only this year's entrants who will be affected. Or they could appeal against a ruling which flies in the face of common sense and justice - although it is fair enough for the school to say that it does not have the money for this. If the governors had any sense of natural justice they would make exceptional arrangements for the five affected children. Instead, they are simply washing their hands of them.

As, disgracefully, is the Board of Deputies. We are constantly told that its work is undervalued, that the community would soon notice how vital it is if it was no longer around, and that it exists to represent the community to the outside world. But when it comes to doing some real, practical good in this instance, the Board has refused to lift a finger to help the parents. It cannot even bring itself to offer moral support, issuing a supine statement that comes close to backing the ruling and the school.

The Board's chief executive says that it wants "to be in a position where as many Jewish children as wish to can attend Jewish schools". How that aim is achieved by acquiescing in the removal of five very young Jewish children who have just started to settle in to their Jewish school, is a mystery. The governors of Clore Shalom must think again before they destroy their school's reputation for fairness. And the Board of Deputies needs to think about what, exactly, it is here for.

Last updated: 4:45pm, October 18 2012