JCoSS: Don't stop believing, it can happen

By Jennifer Lipman, June 30, 2011
JCoSS Year 7 pupils launched proceedings at the opening ceremony with a rendition of the Glee hit Don’t Stop Believing

JCoSS Year 7 pupils launched proceedings at the opening ceremony with a rendition of the Glee hit Don’t Stop Believing

Almost a decade after its founders gathered to discuss the idea, the UK's first cross-communal Jewish secondary school has been officially opened.

It was an emotional day for the 200 governors, trustees and parents who battled through thunderstorms to reach the JCoSS site in Barnet and see Tim Loughton MP - who was standing in for Education Secretary Michael Gove, absent at the last minute because of Commons questions over union strikes - declare the school open. Among those present were former Schools Secretary Ed Balls and JCoSS president Gerald Ronson.

But as several speakers made clear, JCoSS, only the second parent-promoted school in the country, could not have come together without the support of the current government and the Blair and Brown administrations.

A handful of Year 7 pupils - until next term the sole year group at the school - launched proceedings with a rendition of the Glee hit Don't Stop Believing. It was a fitting tribute to a project which, as many remarked, had required plenty of faith along its path to fruition.

Before unveiling the plaque Mr Loughton said: "It has been a long slog to get the first pupils through the doors. Looking around, those efforts were worth every twist, turn and setback."

Mr Ronson, who has been involved in building nine Jewish schools, said he was proud to have been involved in making JCoSS happen. "This school, being inclusive, is the most important from the community's viewpoint," he said.

Among the many state-of-the-art facilities at JCoSS is the Pears Special Resource Provision, developed alongside Norwood for students with autistic spectrum disorders.

"What we have here at JCoSS is different," said Norma Brier, Norwood chief executive. "It is trying to do something that reaches out to every Jewish child."

The next challenge for JCoSS, a voluntary-aided, co-educational school, will be the opening of a sixth-form department in 2012.

And perhaps the best tribute came from JCoSS pupil Jack Mendoza who said: "It's amazing. I would not mind staying here for the holidays."

Last updated: 3:15pm, June 30 2011