Fresh challenge to Clore Shalom school

By Simon Rocker, January 11, 2013

A Jewish school at the centre of a bitter dispute over admissions policy is facing a fresh complaint to the education authorities.

Clore Shalom, a cross-communal primary in Hertfordshire, was forced to revise its entry rules last summer after a complaint upheld by the Office of Schools Adjudicator.

But the school has now been told that a new objection — that the revised policy had not gone far enough — has been made to the Department for Education.

The OSA told Clore Shalom in August last year that it could no longer give preference to pupils in its nursery or whose families belonged to a synagogue when allocating places in its reception class.

In the past, almost all 30 pupils in its nursery went on to continue their Jewish education in the main school the following year.

But, after the OSA ruling, the school hastily amended its rules for entry to reception this September, moving nursery attendance down the priority order. As a result, parents of five nursery children who had expected to go on to reception in autumn were told that their places could be at risk.

The DfE notified the school last week that an objection has now been made to the use of nursery attendance to determine places at all.

Irene Blaston, the chairman of Clore Shalom’s governors, said: “If this latest challenge is upheld… it will cause chaos across the Hertfordshire process, which officially closes this coming weekend.”

As many as 12 pupils currently in the nursery could be affected, she said.

David Prever, whose four-year-old son Barney was one of the five pupils originally hit by the revised rules, called on Education Secretary Michael Gove “to step in and end this farce.

“This proves again that the governors should have delayed implementation [of the revised rules] and protected all nursery children this year, allowing for a decent consultation period.”

Last updated: 9:45am, January 11 2013