The Mayor of London’s rejection of plans to redevelop Hasmonean High School could have a “serious impact” on the Jewish community, the head of the Jewish Leadership Council’s education division has warned.
Rabbi David Meyer, executive director of Partnerships for Jewish Schools (Pajes), said Jewish schools in London were “already heavily oversubscribed and with an expectation that numbers will continue to increase in the next few years, it is difficult to see how this need can be met without the redevelopment of Hasmonean”.
The mayor, Sadiq Khan, turned down a proposal to enlarge Hasmonean’s girls division in Mill Hill and relocate the boys division in Hendon next to it.
A spokesman for the mayor said “due to its location and excessive footprint, the project represented an inappropriate development on green-belt land, would result in the loss of open space and did not include enough sustainable transport measures.”
The school was advised to submit alternative plans which make “better use of the land”.
Calling the decision “very disappointing”, Rabbi Meyer, a former head of Hasmonean himself, said it would “potentially have a serious impact on the secondary school provision for the community”.
The boy’s premises in Holders Hill Road were built 70 years ago to house up to 350 pupils but now pack 600 into cramped conditions.
The redevelopment would allow the school to expand its roll from 1,100 to 1,400.
Although its official annual intake is 150 boys and girls on the two sites, the school has been accepting more than 180 boys and girls in recent years and has offered 191 places this year, with a dozen on the waiting list.
The expansion plans were narrowly approved by Barnet Council’s planning committee earlier this year against the recommendations of council officers.
Increasing Hasmonean’s intake to 210 children a year was seen as a way to alleviate pressure on places amid expectations of rising demand.
Pajes is commissioning new research in order to help refine its calculations.
While previous research has been based on the numbers of parents putting a Jewish school first, what remains unknown is the number who put a Jewish school second in the belief that a local non-Jewish school is a better bet — but who might opt for a Jewish school first if more places were available.
JCoSS, which increased its offers from 180 to 210 this September, said its bulge class is full.
But JFS, which is also opening a bulge class, predicted that the number of new entrants above its previous maximum of 300 would probably be a single figure.
In the meantime, sponsors of the New Jewish High School hope to submit an application for a new Jewish secondary free school for London within the next few months.
Despite the government announcing this week plans to lop more than £200 million off its free school budget, the New Schools Network expect that more than a hundred new free schools will open.