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Demand for primary school places declines

Of 14 state-aided Jewish primaries in the borough of Barnet, applications were down from last year for 11 of them.

    (Marc Morris)

    Most Jewish primary schools in north-west London have received fewer applications this year, with the largest having allocated less than 60 per cent of its places.

    Of 14 state-aided Jewish primaries in the borough of Barnet, applications were down from last year for 11 of them.

    Sinai Primary in Kenton has filled only 52 of its 90 places, according to figures published by Brent Council. Applications to the school have fallen from 237 last year to 178 in 2017.

    The United Synagogue-backed school, which is situated next to JFS, has been taking steps to recruit more pupils, offering a free bus service to families living further afield in Radlett, Borehamwood, 
    St John’s Wood and Willesden.

    The school declined comment on the situation this week.

    Although most Jewish primaries still received far more applications than places, the number was lower than last year for many. 

    Etz Chaim in Mill Hill received 90 applications for its 28 places this year, compared with 150 last year. 
    The most oversubscribed Jewish school in the borough, the cross-communal Alma in Whetstone, had 167 applicants for 30 places, compared with 184 last year.

    David Vaughan, chairman of Rimon in Golders Green, which received 98 applications this year compared to 128 last year, said: “Our waiting list is slightly less than last year. We have increased our reception places this year from 28 to 30.”

    Since parents can apply to up to six schools, it is difficult to know from application figures alone whether the overall number of applicants to Jewish primaries has dropped. Parents, for example, could be choosing to apply to fewer schools.

    But Jonathan Boyd, executive director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, suggested the overall pool of Jewish children outside the Charedi community is smaller this year. 

    “Based on the births data we have, we would expect to see a slight drop in the number of applications to primaries for 2017-18 compared to 2016-17, assuming preference levels remain constant.”

    One reason for the fall could be the impact of the opening of the two-form entry Yavneh Primary school in Borehamwood last September, which has enabled more children among Hertfordshire’s expanding Jewish population to go to a local Jewish school than have to travel further from home.

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