Charedim plan free school

Plans are being drawn up for the first strictly Orthodox Jewish free school.

Rabbi Nesanel Lieberman, currently head of the Toras Hashem Primary in Hendon, is working to open another school in north-west London in September next year.

The free school model has been criticised in some Orthodox circles because only half the places can be reserved on the basis of faith.

But Rabbi Lieberman has secured the support of a number of influential rabbis in the area, including Rabbi Shimon Winegarten of the Bridge Lane Beth Hamedrash.

"He thinks it unlikely that non-Jews would try for such a school where half the day will be spent learning kodesh [Jewish studies]," Rabbi Lieberman explained.

Unlike other state schools, free schools are not bound by the national curriculum and can devote more time to religious studies.

The proposed school would be two-form entry with separate boys and girls sections on the same site. It was intended to alleviate "a shortage of places in the Orthodox Jewish community", Rabbi Lieberman said.

"We have been offered a two-acre site between Hendon and Mill Hill."

Applications for free schools for next year have to be submitted to the Department for Education by the end of the month. Two Jewish primaries were among the first wave of free schools to get off the ground last September with a third approved to open this autumn. At least another three free school projects are in the pipeline.

Last updated: 3:07pm, February 2 2012