Herts rejects Yavneh College plan

By Jay Grenby, May 18, 2012
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Disappointed Yavneh College trustees are having to rethink their options for establishing a primary section after the local authority turned down a second application for a £4 million grant.

Explaining its reasons for the rejection, Hertfordshire County Council’s education and skills Cabinet said that with rising demand for primary school places throughout the county, the needs of the wider community had to be prioritised.

The Yavneh governors were advised to go down the free school route, where the funding would be from central government rather than the county council.

However, in making Yavneh’s case to the cabinet panel, vice-chair Daniel Album explained that the free school option had been explored at length. The conclusion had been that “a free school would, regrettably, be unlikely
to satisfy the large demand we are trying to meet.

"Nor would it be able to emulate the ethos that makes the secondary school so successful.”

Whatever decision the school leadership takes, the latest setback makes 2014 the earliest a primary section can
open.

“Even though the outcome of the meeting was expected, we are bitterly disappointed,” said governors’ chair Sue Nyman. the college and its supporters had done everything possible to satisfy the council.

She claimed “Hertfordshire’s decision totally ignores the many desperate Jewish parents who are unable to
find Jewish primary places locally for their children. The authority did not really appreciate the importance that parents attach to a Jewish education.”

As part of an intensive lobbying campaign, Yavneh handed in a petition with more than 1,000 signatories backing the application.

At the nearby Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue, chairman Mike Cohen highlighted the shortage of Jewish primary places in the locality.

“I understand that last year over 80 Jewish parents reluctantly had to send their children out of the area to find reception places,” he said. “With the removal of transport subsidies, many parents will be unable to continue sending their children to Jewish schools out of the borough as the cost will be too prohibitive. this simply cannot be right.”

One local parent affected by Hertfordshire’s decision is Aaron Kaye, whose four-year-old son Zach will be
starting school in September. He and his wife Debbie want Zach to attend a Jewish school “but it will probably
have to be one outside the area. We desperately need a Jewish primary school
here in Borehamwood,” he said.

“Everything is in place. They have the site, they have planning permission. it’s obvious that if we want a Jewish primary school in Borehamwood, the Yavneh proposals will be the quickest way to achieve our aim.”

Last updated: 2:45pm, May 31 2012