Three Orthodox primary schools in London have agreed to come under a single administrative umbrella in the first consolidation of its kind within the Jewish community.
Sacks Morasha in Finchley, Moriah in Pinner and Wolfson Hillel in Southgate will be the first schools run by a new multi-academy trust (MAT) backed by the United Synagogue.
While each school will retain its independence with its own governing body and admission rules, the MAT framework will enable greater co-operation.
The Jewish Community Academy Trust (JCAT), which will be formally launched this year, will be a “huge milestone in our community’s Jewish education,” said US president Michael Goldstein.
“Whether through sharing successful models of strategic implementation, bringing about cost efficiencies, or providing staff development opportunities, the new MAT will take some of the best schools in the UK and help them to become even better,” he said.
The headteachers and chairmen of governors of the three schools told parents in a letter: “By working together, individual schools can be far stronger than by working alone”.
More schools are expected to join the trust in time, they said.
The trustees of the JCAT will be appointed by the Chief Rabbi, the United Synagogue and Joshua Rowe, chairman of Manchesters' King David Schools.
As voluntary-aided schools, Sacks Morasha, Wolfson Hillel and Moriah are currently under local authority control but will enjoy greater independence as part of a MAT set-up.
Each school will continue to set its own level of voluntary contributions parents are asked to make for Jewish studies.
The government has been keen to encourage the creation of MATs rather than the traditional model of schools run by local councils. The pressure on budgets has also prompted schools to explore greater administrative efficiency.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis hailed “an historic opportunity to shape the future of Jewish education with a renewed focus on the centrality of Torah, Jewish values and the state of Israel in our lives, and an uncompromising pursuit of secular academic excellence”.
Yavneh College in Hertfordshire has already set up its own MAT which encompasses its neighbouring primary school.
Other Jewish schools are considering the MAT option.
Fifteen months ago, the chairmen of governors of schools under Rabbi Mirvis's religioius authority met at JFS to discuss the possibility of establishing a MAT.
At one point, the Jewish Leadership Council’s education division, Partnerships for Jewish Schools, which operates across the religious spectrum, had thought of setting up a broader-based academy trust.