Sinai Jewish Primary School has called a former French teacher out of retirement to help with children who are native speakers of the language.
The move reflects the sizeable immigration of Jews from France to the UK that has taken place in recent years.
Despite the Francophone students, however, the number of children starting reception at Europe’s largest Jewish primary school this term has dipped.
While Sinai has 90 places available at reception, according to Brent Council in July, there were only 51 Jewish children due to enter with the Certificate of Religious Practice this year.
Lee Glassar, Sinai’s chairman of governors, described the drop as a “blip” because of the low birth-rate for this year group across the Jewish community but expected numbers to pick up over time.
“We are not unduly concerned because we had seen this coming,” he said. “Seven years ago, we had 66 children in reception because other schools opened bulge classes but, by year three, we were full.”
Registration by parents for open days this autumn was already higher than last year, he said, while nursery intake was 20 per cent up.
“We are in a very good place in terms of education and leadership,” he said. “Our Sats results were the best in our history. Thankfully, it is looking rosy for children.”
The school, situated next door to JFS in Kenton, draws its pupils from across seven boroughs,
David Collins, director of Jewish living for the United Synagogue, which is Sinai’s denominational authority, said that data produced by the Institute of Jewish Policy Research had “anticipated a drop in this year’s applications, and given the many factors that lie behind people’s choice of school, it is not surprising for some schools to be undersubscribed”.
In Sinai’s case, the US believed that “this year’s uptake is anomalously low. We will continue to work with the leadership of this and every one of our schools to ensure that the best possible Jewish education continues to be available to our community.”