Gove observes a flying start to Etz Chaim site
Launch date: Etz chaim pupils, staff and guests watch the balloons go up at the official opening
Education Secretary Michael Gove joined communal leaders at the official opening of the permanent Etz Chaim Jewish Primary premises in Mill Hill last Friday.
Etz Chaim, one of the government’s free school projects, has been operating from nearby temporary accommodation since 2011.
Project leaders had to overcome a legal challenge from local residents objecting to the loss of a local amenity — a garden centre — which formerly stood on the school’s new Daws Lane home.
The school has built up to 107 children, from nursery to year two, and there are 20 staff.
Governors’ chair Adam Dawson told the 300 guests: “The project has been and continues to be a true labour of love for all involved. But we stuck to the plan, worked hard and succeeded in establishing one of the country’s first free schools.
“The challenging Etz Chaim project has passed [Mr Gove’s] desk on more than one occasion. I would like to thank him for his personal involvement and support in our project.”
Etz Chaim has received a “good” Ofsted rating and has incorporated digital learning and entrepreneurial projects into its curriculum to equip students with a practical skill-set.
Headteacher Yvonne Baron, formerly of Hertsmere Jewish Primary, who has a masters in effective learning, explained: “All our children are digital natives. They are competent users of a variety of digital devices and are learning so fast.
“As a new school, we don’t have to do what has always been done. We have an opportunity to create a new way. My vision will see children learning through an integrated and creative curriculum with active and collaborative opportunities.”
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis gave a blessing and the children sang for their guests before a flood of green balloons was released, emphasising the school’s colour scheme and eco-friendly intentions exemplified in the roof, which boasts impressive solar panels.