Family & Education

Hertsmere Jewish Primary parents fight expansion plan

Concern that school will not be able to fill places if it increases to three form entry


Parents from Hertsmere Jewish Primary School are objecting to plans to expand it to three forms of entry as part of a prospective merger with Moriah Jewish Primary.

Asher Teren and Danielle Green, the newly elected parent governors for HJPS, have warned of “a real risk that the places may not be filled, and would remain empty” or the Orthodox school would have to accept some non-Jewish children.

The merger plan, drawn up because of falling numbers at Moriah in Pinner, is due to go to the Department for Education for approval following a consultation with parents.

Both schools are part of the Jewish Community Academy Trust (JCAT), the new consortium which was launched by the United Synagogue last year.

Under the proposed merger, the Radlett-based HJPS would expand from 60 to 90 reception places a year from this autumn.

But one former HJPS governor said, “I don’t know how they are going to fill the places going forward. If they don’t fill the places, they won’t get funding.”

The ex-governor also voiced concern that the Radlett site “is not big enough” for the proposed expansion, calling the plan “absolutely ludicrous.

“We are angry. I feel they are coming in and ruining our school. One parent said it feels more like a hostile takeover as opposed to what should be a peaceful merger.”

While HJPS has traditionally been oversubscribed, the parent governors said only 46 applicants had made it first-choice for entry this autumn.

The school was forced to join a multi-academy trust last year after being downgraded from outstanding to inadequate by Ofsted over failings in leadership and management — although its education was still rated good.

HJPS parents have been told by JCAT in consultation papers that expansion would “benefit the school financially so HJPS does not fall further into a deficit, cater for the growing Jewish community around HJPS and help HJPS to continue to offer an outstanding education”.

They were told the school needed to find an additional £60,000 and currently could not afford a music teacher.

If the expansion were approved, HJPS would get extra state funding for pupils transferring from Moriah.

But if the plan was not implemented, then the school would have to find the money to integrate an estimated 50 students from Moriah into different classes for the next academic year.

Kirsten Jowett, JCAT chief executive, told parents this week, “Budget projections across both Moriah and HJPS show that, after staffing costs, the creation of a single school with an extra form will unlock a transformative £1 million extra investment in our children’s education across the next five years.”

She said, “We are committed to moving ahead with this process as outlined and are hopeful a merger or bulge will still proceed as planned.”

Ms Jowett told the JC that “data shows Hertfordshire is an area of continuing Jewish growth.

“One of the many benefits of JCAT is that we are in a position to use this data to respond to this growth now and in the future.”

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