NW Jewish parents seek Ilford school places

By Jay Grenby, June 3, 2010
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Hertfordshire parents are contemplating sending their children on a daily cross-London journey to ensure them of Jewish school places.

Over two dozen people attended a meeting at Borehamwood Synagogue at which Ilford Jewish Primary head Roz Levin and governor Howard Kemp talked about the school and its ethos. Unlike in Herts, where many families face disappointment over Jewish school applications, IJPS has 17 places available in its reception class.

Mrs Levin urged the parents to register interest without delay before places had to be made available to non-Jewish applicants from the Redbridge area.

"They made a most compelling case," said Eddie Hammerman, a Borehamwood parent and prime mover behind the meeting. "But while lots of questions were asked about different aspects of the school, the main concern was travel, which is obviously the principal barrier to overcome.

"No one wants to put their child through the strain of sitting in a bus or a car for an hour or more twice a day if they can possibly help it. But IJPS showed themselves to be extremely flexible, even offering to alter the timing of the school day's start and finish to accommodate us."

Interested parents will now "road test" the 20 mile-plus each way journey to gauge its feasibility. Mr Hammerman pointed out that "while internet route finders say the trip between Borehamwood and Ilford should take no more than 55 minutes, these rarely take account of rush hour traffic congestion or adverse weather conditions."

A few Borehamwood families have already registered with IJPS. In one case, a couple who failed to obtain a local primary place for their child are planning to move to Chigwell.

Mr Hammerman, a former IJPS pupil, has lived in Borehamwood for seven years with his Israeli wife Ronit. Having been unable to secure places for their two young sons, Oz, four, and two-year-old Ziv, in either the nursery or reception classes of local Jewish schools, he claims that community bodies have been so slow to recognise the extent of the problem.

"I tried to seek assistance from every communal body I could think of, from the Chief Rabbi's Office to the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council, not forgetting my own shul. But though each offered lots of sympathy, and often a degree of help, they each pointed to the other, leaving us going round in circles. The schools don't cross-reference their waiting lists, nor is there a central organisation taking overall responsibility, or making any proper strategic plans."

He has created a Facebook page to allow other concerned parents to share information.

    Last updated: 3:01pm, June 3 2010