School move aids Redbridge regeneration
Redbridge Jewry celebrated the latest step towards an integrated future with the official opening of the Wohl Ilford Jewish Primary School (IJPS) building.
Catering for more than 400 pupils between the ages of two and 11, IJPS moved to the King Solomon High site in Barkingside last September, following an £11 million redevelopment.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, MP Mike Freer and Mayor of Redbridge Councillor Ashley Kissin spoke of the culmination of the decade-long project, as did major contributors, philanthropist Moshe Kantor and the Maurice Wohl Charitable Foundation, represented by chairman Professor David Latchman.
It is hoped the relocation will ease the transition of pupils between the schools, as well as helping to regenerate local Jewish life.
Redbridge Jewish Education Renewal Project chairman Jonathan Goldstein said: "The area continues to go through a difficult time with demographic change.
Generations will reap the benefits of this campus
"But the infrastructure is here for a vibrant Jewish school and we now look forward to coming back here for many years as future generations of British Jewry enjoy and reap the benefits of this campus."
As they entered the building, trustees, governors and parents were entertained by dance and song from students.
A group of the youngest pupils announced to their audience: "Headteacher Roz Levin told us that since we are children, you will forgive us for not being normal - we mean formal."
Mr Freer stressed "the importance of education to the Jewish community. Recently faith schools have been under attack, but they continue to flourish. This school is at the heart of Redbridge, not just for the Jewish community, but as a wider facility with its doors open to all. I am delighted to see Ofsted recognise that."
IJPS parent Caron Conway, 33, said the move had given pupils a "stronger feeling of togetherness.
"If you listened to what people say, you would think there was no longer a Jewish community in Redbridge. But you come here and you realise that just isn't true."
Fellow parent Richard Shone, 43, said: "This sends a clear message to Redbridge that Jewish education is here to stay."
Further rejuvenation of local life comes with Jewish Care's plans to redevelop its community centre.
Explained Neil Taylor, director of the charity's care and community services, the intention was to establish "an independent living scheme alongside the redevelopment of the community centre". This would complement the role of the Vi and John Rubens care home and the Dennis Centre, helping those with memory impairment.
He added: "This summer we will be meeting with Redbridge town planners to discuss our initial plans. After this meeting, having taken into account the views of the council planners, we will be able to develop more detailed plans before making a full application."