Jews welcome Tory pledge to set up new schools

By Robyn Rosen, April 15, 2010

The Tories' election manifesto pledge to give parents the right to set up schools has been welcomed by communal educators.

Educational philanthropist Benjamin Perl claimed this week that 10 new Jewish schools were needed in the Hertsmere area as parents spoke of their despair at failing to obtain places for their children. Some Borehamwood parents say the situation is forcing families to leave the area.

Nicki Cohen was rejected by the four schools she applied to for nursery places for her two-year-old son, Samuel. "I was absolutely devastated when we found out," she said. "I've always wanted him to have a Jewish education from a young age. We live five minutes away from Hertsmere Jewish Primary School and I was really surprised when he didn't get a place.

"I have no idea what will happen once he finishes at nursery next year. We're even thinking about moving to Manchester."

Avi Silver's three-year-old son Mickey was also not offered a place. "Hertsmere has a huge problem," he said. "It's the fastest growing community but it's totally inadequate in terms of school places."

Praising the Tory proposal, Mr Perl hoped "that if the Conservatives come in, Michael Gove [the shadow Schools Secretary] will do what he says. We're on the verge of a golden era for the Jewish community." If another Labour government was returned, it should take up the Tory idea.

Another supporter of the plan is Rabbi Avraham Pinter, principal of the Yesodey Hatorah Senior School for Girls in Stamford Hill. "I think it's a wonderful idea," he said. "Michael Gove has proved himself to be a good friend of the Jewish community and this is something that proves that further.

"There is clearly a shortage in Jewish primary school places. It's good to give parents choice as they know best for their children."

Elsewhere, the Jewish Leadership Council's schools strategy implementation group has set up a website in an effort to ascertain the number of those unable to secure places.

Group chairman Leo Noé said: "It is essential we have a clear picture of the situation to enable appropriate planning in the future and, if necessary, to review the demographic evidence that is used."

Last updated: 3:25pm, April 15 2010