Sinai asked to take non-Jewish pupil
Concern is growing that there may now be too many Jewish primary school places in London, leading schools to take non-Jewish pupils in future.
Britain's largest Jewish primary school, Sinai in Kenton, which is usually oversubscribed, has been asked by its local authority to take one non-Jewish child in autumn - although it is not known if the child will accept the place.
Only last year Jewish parents were complaining that children could not get into a Jewish primary school because there were too few places.
But in a dramatic turnaround, at least 130 new primary school places have been created this year, according to estimates from the Jewish Leadership Council.
Lira Winston, co-ordinator of the JLC's schools strategy implementation group, said: "Last year there was a huge outcry that there were not enough places. If the schools hadn't responded, they would have been castigated."
But Sinai chair of governors Lee Glassar said: "There is concern that over the next years there will be an oversupply of places".
Three new schools are opening in autumn, the private Immanuel College preparatory school in Bushey, and two free schools, Etz Chaim in Mill Hill and Eden in Haringey. Three other schools have added additional "bulge" classes this year: the state-aided North-West Jewish Day School in Willesden, Rosh Pinah in Edgware and the private Kerem in Hampstead Garden Suburb.
But the JLC's figure of 130 extra
places may be an underestimate, because it had calculated 20 for Rosh Pinah's bulge class, whereas the school says it will accommodate an extra 30.
"The London Borough of Barnet asked us to take a bulge year, and we are full," said a Rosh Pinah spokesman, "It's a one-off; we are not repeating it next year."
Even if the three bulge classes are a one-off, there will be additional primary places from next year with Yavneh College's planned opening of a two-form state-aided primary school in Borehamwood.
Lady Winston said that while the JLC was aware of a few spare places, the expansion had still meant that "a lot more kids have got places this year".
Matching supply to demand could not be "an exact science" she explained, although the Board of Deputies was trying to collect figures to assess future need.
"One of the things about primary schools is that parents don't want their kids to go a long way to school," she said. "The fact that there are spares place in one area doesn't help parents in another."
The rising number of hits to the JLC's findajewishschool website, now about 2,500 a month, still indicated high levels of interest from parents, she said.
It remains to be seen whether the increase in primary school places will have the same impact as in the secondary sector. The opening of two new Jewish secondary schools in London has had a knock-on effect on King Solomon High School in Redbridge, whose entry classes for a second year running will have around a 40 per cent intake of non-Jewish pupils.
non-Jewish pupils now at King Solomon in Redbridge
new Jewish schools opening this autumn
extra places available in primary schools, according to Jewish Leadership Council