Parents: school fails Orthodoxy

By Jessica Elgot, June 10, 2011

Parents of pupils at Simon Marks Jewish Primary in Stamford Hill have expressed concerns that the school is moving away from traditional Orthodoxy.

Some of the parents, who did not wished to be named, said they felt the governors did not listen to their concerns about Masorti services being held on school premises. The school's foundation body is Scopus and the majority of governors are appointed by Scopus to uphold the ethos of the school which it is under the authority of the Chief Rabbi. The school has taken some non-Jewish children to fill places over the past few years.

Parents also said that they were worried that the new Eden Primary school in Muswell Hill, spearheaded by former Simon Marks chair of governors Peter Kessler, would mean numbers would go down at the Hackney school when the Haringey primary opens in September.

Mr Kessler was not reappointed as chairman in 2009 when his term expired because he was keen to make Simon Marks a feeder school for cross-communal high school JCoSS.

One parent said: "Simon Marks is a modern Orthodox Zionist school and this is why we sent our children there. Masorti High Holy Days services have been arranged over the past two years, despite promises that they would not be. The Chief Rabbi and his office do not believe anything untoward has happened. Those involved should resign and there should be an inquiry."

A local resident said that there were many concerns about the school in the wider Stamford Hill community. He said: "I want to ensure Simon Marks endures and continues its fine traditions. The Masorti services were never advertised within the school community and some parents felt there was an agenda to move the school away from the Orthodox ethos. We believe that the governors concerned should be made to resign."

The school's chairman of governors Howard Pallis denied that many parents were unhappy. He said: "Our school flourishes and pupil numbers are increasing. We have welcomed the Eden school which covers a different catchment area. We have the full support of the Chief Rabbi and school life is vibrant and dynamic."

The Chief Rabbi's office and Scopus did not return the JC's enquiries.

Last updated: 2:33pm, June 10 2011