Hendon school forced to end priority admissions

By Simon Rocker, June 19, 2014

Another Jewish primary school has been forced to change its entry rules after being told it can no longer give priority for reception class places to children in its nursery.

Around half-a-dozen children in the nursery of the Independent Jewish Day School, an Orthodox academy in Hendon, may not be able to go on to the infant school in September as a result of the ruling by the Office of Schools Adjudicator. A similar ruling against nursery priority was made by the OSA at the Clore Shalom Primary in Shenley two years ago. Hertsmere Jewish Day School changed its entry policy accordingly after being advised to do so by the local council.

But the IJDS appears to be the first Jewish school in Barnet to be affected. It follows a complaint to the OSA against the school's entry rules from a member of the public. Governors' chair Anushka Levey said: "It is a real shame and very disappointing. It is very unsettling for families who accepted a place in the nursery who have now been told there is a chance their children might not get a place in reception."

IJDS, which normally admits 28 children a year, is known for its Ivrit b'Ivrit programme, teaching religious studies in Hebrew. Mrs Levey said it was "nonsensical" that some children who came to the school for that very reason might not be able to continue their education there after nursery.

In its ruling, the OSA reported that "nearly all" children admitted to the reception class in the past three years had gone to the nursery.

It is very unsettling for families

"There is very little or no chance that children who do not attend the nursery will be successful in gaining a place," the OSA's Ann Talboys stated.Parents therefore faced "undue pressure" to send their children to the nursery and this was unfair.

Ms Talboys noted that the school admissions code did not specifically prohibit giving priority to nursery children. But, in a letter to parents of children at IJDS, the school's board of directors wrote: "It would appear that government policy is very much against the granting of nursery priority."

Barnet Council said it would be writing to "advise all of our schools of the Adjudicator's findings in this case and ask the governing bodies to consider the compliance of their schools' arrangements with the admissions code".

Despite outrage from Clore Shalom parents whose children were affected by the OSA ruling in 2012, the Department for Education rejected an appeal.

Mrs Levey said IJDS was considering its options.

Last updated: 10:38am, June 23 2014