School leader confident despite low enrolment

By Jonathan Kalmus, June 19, 2014
Some of the school's first group of pupils

Some of the school's first group of pupils

The founder of Leeds' first Jewish secondary school is confident about its future, despite anticipating another small intake for its second academic year.

Dan Cohen expects another 10 pupils to join the £3.5 million Leeds Jewish Free School in September after the inaugural intake of nine students, two of them non-Jews.

Although the numbers enrolling are only two-thirds of the school's target, Mr Cohen said the school was financially secure with a seven-year funding commitment from the government and communal donations secured to plug funding gaps.

"Parents had to apply for schools for next year back in October when our school had only been open for four weeks," Mr Cohen said. "We make no bones about the fact that the long-term success of the school depends absolutely on parents sending children. Parents need a reason to make that final step.

"We are constantly monitoring teaching and how pupils are performing and they have all outperformed. Our expectations are high." Having year seven pupils with the potential to pass GCSEs was "staggering".

Everything for young Leeds Jews is there

All the first cohort of pupils have received an iPad and tuition has been organised by leading Yorkshire school, the Rodillian Academy. In an email to parents, headteacher Jeremy Dunford wrote that student assessments in the school's first nine months showed "two, or more, years' progress in one year. We assess them all against GCSE grades and all would achieve a GCSE grade if they took an exam now."

David Myers, whose son Cameron attends the school, said he had no regrets. "When my wife and I made the decision to send Cameron it was about education, and he is getting a first class education.

"The social side of such a small school was a concern, but the whole campus now is on-site with the Zone Jewish youth club and scouts. Everything for young Leeds Jews is there."

Last updated: 1:54pm, June 19 2014