There was elation and frustration for parents this week, as Jewish secondary schools sent out their first round of offers for places.
As in recent years, high schools in north London have been overwhelmed by demand for the limited number of Year 7 places available.
Hundreds of anxious parents awaited news of their children’s futures as the offers were sent out by email and post on Wednesday.
In anticipation of the inevitable disappointment faced by some parents and children, several Jewish primary schools prepared families ahead of offer day.
Staff at Wolfson Hillel Primary School in Southgate, north London, spoke to children about the need to be sensitive to others who may not have received good news.
Parents at Sinai, in Kenton, north-west London, received a letter from interim headteacher Juliette Lipshaw.
She wrote: “I am sure that many of you are feeling anxious as well as in disbelief that your children are old enough to be going to secondary school. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all good luck and hope that you all receive the news that you want.”
She said the school would do its best to support disappointed parents, adding: “We spoke to the children today to ask them to consider their peers’ feelings and emotions over the coming days.”
In London overall, almost a third (32 per cent) of pupils missed out on their first choice of secondary school, according to the Pan-London Admissions Scheme.
Six per cent of all pupils missed out on all six school choices they opted for.
Although there was no available data for Jewish secondaries at the time of going to press, education leaders have been quietly confident that the pressure should be reduced this year due to newly introduced measures.
JCoSS, in East Barnet, north London, has increased its intake from 180 to 210 pupils, while JFS, in Kenton, may also introduce an extra class for 30 children depending on demand.
A spokesman for Partnerships for Jewish Schools (Pajes) said: “Once the first round of offers has been made and there is a clearer indication as to how many children are still on the waiting list with a genuine desire to send to JFS, a decision will be made by the school as to whether a bulge class will be required.”
Yavneh College, in Borehamwood, does not plan to repeat last year’s bulge class, but private school Immanuel College, which recently emerged as the best performing Jewish school in new government league tables, has said that it can accommodate up to 96 children.
Rabbi David Meyer, executive director, PaJeS, said: “The system operated by the local authorities is as efficient and fair as it can be.”