Yavneh sets 2011 target for new primary

By Jay Grenby, July 15, 2010

A two-form entry primary section for Yavneh College in Borehamwood could accept pupils as early as September 2011, parents were told this week.

The move, intended to alleviate the severe shortage of Jewish primary school places in the Hertsmere area, was announced at a public meeting on Monday at Yavneh.

However, parents were cautioned that many obstacles had to be cleared before before building could start at the site, with the securing of planning permission high among them.

"We hope to be able to open in 2011, but it would be foolish to make promises we might not be able to keep," said governors' chair Malcolm Gordon.

Until the Yavneh project becomes a certainty, a range of alternatives will be considered by J-Pesh (Jewish Primary Education in South Hertfordshire). The working group of representatives from all local Orthodox synagogues has for some time been exploring the possibility of establishing a further Jewish voluntary-aided primary in the county.

‘Our task is to get a school going as quickly as possible’

"While we are working closely with Yavneh, our task is to get a school going as quickly as possible," J-Pesh chair Alan Hirschowitz said. "If there are hiccups with the Yavneh project, it may be that one of the possible sites we have identified could be opened sooner. Another option is to move into short-term accommodation which will fill the need for the school while the long-term site is being built."

J-Pesh had convened Monday's meeting ahead of the Yavneh announcement to report on its own progress and gauge support. It was delighted to see more than 200 parents turn up, along with county and local councillors, LEA representatives, rabbis and Jewish school heads.

Mr Hirschowitz told them J-Pesh had short-listed four potential sites and negotiations were taking place with planners, property owners and property companies.

Based on United Synagogue figures, some 1,000 more Jewish families were seeking primary places for their children in the Hertfordshire area than was the case nine years ago. "We would like to offer the children of the Herts communities another local modern Orthodox Jewish school similar to Hertsmere Jewish Primary School, which is oversubscribed."

If the Yavneh College project goes ahead, the primary section will be built on land at the side of the existing site. Mr Gordon told a questioner that the primary would be under the overall stewardship of Yavneh head Dr Dena Coleman, but with a deputy head and further staff recruited specifically. "The school and Dr Coleman are enthusiastic advocates for the educational merits of providing a curriculum which flows seamlessly from age five to age 18."

Dr Coleman also assured parents: "Experience from other five-to-18 schools - including many of the most successful independent schools - shows that this approach produces exceptionally high standards as well as significant benefits in terms of children's personal and social development."

United Synagogue educational consultant Simon Goulden said: "This is a very interesting time to be in education with so many opportunities available for the Jewish community."

    Last updated: 11:15am, July 15 2010