Liverpool mum joins shul for school place

By Jonathan Kalmus, July 22, 2010
Kayleigh Chapple and her mother Dawn

Kayleigh Chapple and her mother Dawn

The mother whose daughter was refused a place at the city's King David High School is to join an Orthodox synagogue so that the girl, Kayleigh Chapple, can attend King David High School in Manchester.

Dawn Chapple, whose husband Neil is not Jewish, said it was "a weight off my shoulders" after not having a school place for her daughter just weeks before term was due to start.

"KD Manchester has been fabulous and rushed it all through," said Mrs Chapple. "I'm ecstatic Kayleigh's got into a Jewish school. But I do think it's ludicrous that there are two King Davids, and that she should get into one and not the other."

Manchester King David High's chair of governors, Joshua Rowe, said his school's "non-intrusive" admissions policy, which simply asks for membership of an Orthodox shul, had worked to avoid problems. He said: "The child will be offered a place as the school understands that the mother will join a shul."

He said that other schools had, in the wake of the JFS Supreme Court ruling, instigated complex admission policies which recognise cultural activities such as volunteering for Jewish charities. But Mr Rowe said such policies were intrusive. "It gets into people's lives, asking what they do on Sunday, what they eat. How far do you go?

"In Manchester many synagogues accept membership from a mother who is fully Jewish, so we don't have this technical problem that there is in Liverpool."

Kayleigh will attend King David Manchester for at least one term, but could be pulled out by January pending court action to decide if she can have a place in Liverpool's Jewish high school. Mrs Chapple says she will continue a legal fight because she is concerned at the effects of a 60-mile daily round trip on Kayleigh, who will be the only Liverpool pupil in her age group.

She said: "It makes me sick that we're in this position. A legal battle is costing the school in Liverpool money that's being taken away from Jewish education, and all for the sake of nothing."

Barrister John McKendrick, a specialist in education and human rights law, is representing the family and will look to pursue a judicial review in the High Court, in a similar action to the JFS case brought two years ago.

Mrs Chapple's solicitors said that they were likely to ask: "Why should a child who lives in Liverpool have to go to school in Manchester?"

Last updated: 3:49pm, July 22 2010