Jewish free schools are on schedule

By Jessica Elgot, October 14, 2010
Education Secretary Michael Gove

Education Secretary Michael Gove

Both new Jewish free schools are on target to open in September 2011, despite fears that up to half of the 16 new free schools will not meet deadlines to open in September.

Peter Kessler, leader of the group of parents who are planning to set up Haringey Jewish Primary School, said the school was making faster progress than nearly all of the other approved schools and pupils would be able to start in September.

The school is preparing a business plan and a public consultation in time for the government’s deadline at the beginning of December.

He said: “We are actually waiting for the first thing to go wrong. We are in the final stages of discussions with project management companies who will turn the school from parents’ vision to a professional, legal reality.”

Mr Kessler, a former chairman of Simon Marks Jewish Primary, said the school had welcomed government rules which stated 50 per cent of free school’s intake must not be based on faith.

“This will be the first cross-communal primary school, where we welcome every Jewish child. We are pleased some non-Jewish children will attend because we like the idea our children are educated with some children of other faiths.

“But this will not be some sort of ‘Judaism-lite’ – we will make sure that kashrut and observance are up to orthodox standards.”

“We know that Michael Gove wants this school to succeed, we keep being told we are ahead in the planning stages than other schools.”

Adam Dawson, who is leading the group for the primary school in Mill Hill, said: “We are absolutely on target. From what I am aware only five schools are at the same stage as us. We will have a full business plan and admissions procedure written by the end of November, and we hope to secure the site by then as well. Then at the beginning of December we will start advertising for staff.”

The school has been working closely with Michele Bazak, the retired head of Hertsmere Jewish Primary School.

Last updated: 1:36pm, October 14 2010