Family & Education

Primary school blames Brexit for financial woes

North West London Jewish Day School reportedly has a £250,000 deficit


North West London Jewish Day School, Champions of Etgar 2023 (Photo by Silvio Palladino)

A North-West London primary has blamed Brexit in part for its financial struggles.  

A decade ago, nearly 20 per cent of pupils at North West London Jewish Day School in Willesden were French — 56 out of 285 — and the school newsletter was regularly printed in both French and English.

But the number of Francophone pupils has dropped off since the UK left the European Union and,  according to a government website, the school roll is down to 205.

Parents were asked to attend a Zoom meeting on Sunday last week, where school leaders made a plea for them to pay voluntary contributions, according to an attendee.

The school devotes nearly a third of its curriculum towards Jewish studies, funded entirely by voluntary contributions of nearly £4,000 per child each year (before Gift Aid).

One parent said that the current deficit this year was £250,000 and that a number of staff cuts had recently been made.

A spokesperson for the school told the JC: “As a state-funded academy, North West receives fixed government funding towards the secular education we provide.

“Although our admission rates have been impacted by a number of wider sector issues, including Brexit and declining birth rates, and the continuously rising costs of running a high-achieving and award-winning school, North West remains the school of choice for a wide section of the Jewish community.”

The school added: “We have always enjoyed the support of our school community and high levels of voluntary contributions, which we appreciate have been challenging for some to sustain in a difficult economic climate. Our parent body remains engaged in supporting the school, and we continue to work with our community to identify ways of boosting income to meet the shortfall in available government funding.”

But the spokesperson said the school would not comment on job losses or what percentage of parents paid full contributions.

However, information circulated by the school to parents which has been seen by the JC, suggested that voluntary contributions had dropped from 85 per cent last year to 55 per cent. The school said it needed contributions to be at 75 per cent to cover its costs. 

Jewish studies was currently in deficit by £150,000 for the year, and secular studies £100,000.

According to the information, chair of governors Sara Elias told parents that she had “seen the school move from a period of plenty and relative stability to the funding crisis that we are experiencing today. I know that crisis is a dramatic word to use, but it is the only word I can think of to convey the difficulty that we are now in, which culminated last term in the redundancies of five beloved teachers.”

It had been “heartbreaking” to make redundancies, she said, but there was “no choice”.

Last year, the school raised £325,000 from a fundraising appeal – compared with the £850,000 raised in 2019 ahead of its 75th anniversary the following year.

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