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Demand for places in Jewish schools will grow

    A record number of applicants to Jewish state schools in London ended up without a place at one last year, according to a new report.

    But more than half the unsuccessful applicants last year withdrew from waiting lists — which would have included many Jewish children going to fee-paying selective schools who applied to a Jewish school as a back-up.

    The report, Will My Child Get A Place? — which released its initial findings last year — is the most in-depth investigation so far into the current demand for Jewish schooling.

    Projections made by JPR suggest that from 100 to 200 new places in the state Jewish system in and around London could be needed within four years.

    But, although there remains a “sizeable gap” between parental preference and existing capacity, the precise number of additional places required remains hard to determine.

    Rabbi David Meyer, executive director of Partnerships for Jewish Schools, which commissioned the research, said it “reinforces our view that there has to be a strategy to address the potential increase in demand for secondary school places. We are already in discussions with stakeholders from all sides to find a long-term, sustainable solution.”

    Jewish applications to mainstream Jewish state schools rose by 16 per cent from 912 in 2011 to 1057 in 2016. The rise reflects both a larger pool of eligible Jewish children and the increased popularity of Jewish schooling.

    According to JPR, between 57 per cent to 65 per cent of non-Charedi Jewish children in London have applied to Jewish schools in recent years.

    Depending on the proportion who apply in future, the number of extra applicants in four years could vary from three to 199, according to JPR calculations. The middle estimate would be 134.

    Authors Jonathan Boyd and Daniel Staetsky say the report shows “a sizeable gap between the demand for places at Jewish secondary schools in and around London and those schools’ capacity to meet that demand”.

    They have analysed the choices of families on the waiting lists of two Jewish state schools, JCoSS and Hasmonean, last year and used the results to produce an overall picture which includes JFS and Yavneh College.

    From the waiting list of 254 for the four schools, more than half of those, 137, withdrew their names, since either they accepted a private or non-Jewish state school or were possibly ineligible (54 per cent); 48 kept their names on the list but eventually went to a non-Jewish state school (around 20 per cent); 38 on the list settled for another Jewish school (15 per cent); 23 on the list went to a non-Jewish public school (nine per cent); and eight settled for the private Jewish Immanuel College (three per cent).

    There would, therefore, have been nearly 80 children who remained on the waiting list for a Jewish state school but might have accepted a place if one had become available, JPR calculated.However, that figure may have been lower if the extra places allocated by Yavneh and Hasmonean last year were factored in.

     

    Comment, page 37

     

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