Jewish school leaders step up security as JFS allows pupils to ditch blazers

JFS, JCoss and Yavneh College are among the schools that have written to parents to inform them of increased measures


Female Student Raising Hand To Ask Question In Classroom

Jewish school leaders have made efforts to reassure parents and pupils over security as panic spread through the community in the wake of Hamas's brutal terror attack on Israel.

Their emails to parents came as pupils at JFS were told they could refrain from wearing their blazers in public so as not to advertise to the wider community that they are Jewish.

Teachers at Jewish schools in London liaised with Community Security Trust (CST) over the weekend, and informed parents anxious about their children’s safety on the premises, of their plans for increased security measures as well as the support on offer to affected pupils.

CST’s CEO Mark Gardner sent a letter to parents acknowledging their concerns, which, he said, “underpin all of our work, undertaken in partnership with each school, each guarding company, police and government.” 

Acknowledging the likelihood of “a sharp rise in antisemitism” in Britain, Gardner reassured parents that CST spent the weekend in detailed conversations with the Home Secretary Suella Braverman, security minister Tom Tugendhat and senior police officers throughout the UK. 

“The operational planning, cooperation and coordination will continue throughout this coming week and for as long as is necessary, with schools a strong focus of our joint efforts,” he said. “CST’s work is dedicated to enabling our community to lead the Jewish life of its choice: schools are always at the centre of that effort, but now more than ever.”

JFS wrote to parents to say that CST had already been in contact about the heightened security around the school.

Beyond that, said headteacher Dr David Moody, “the most important thing is to ensure the safe passage of students between home and school and to make sure that this school is set up to care for our children during the school day.

Moodie added that for this week the school has lifted after-school detentions to enable pupils to travel home by school bus, and that blazers would be optional. He said: “I think the badge of our school, which has been a safe haven for Jews for nearly 300 years, is important, but should students wish to not wear a blazer then I would understand that decision. As such, they will be optional for the next week.”

Elsewhere, JCoSS headteacher, Dr Melanie Lee, reassured parents that safety and security was “obviously of paramount importance”, while offering emotional support to anyone who needed it.

“We are very conscious that many members of our school community are deeply and personally affected by the ongoing events and we will be doing everything that we can to implement appropriate support strategies for staff and students at school,” she said. 

Lee assured parents of heightened vigilance, as well as an increased school security team and enhanced checks at entry points into the school, and said that these extra measures would remain for as long as is necessary. 

She also cited correspondence from Barnet Neighbourhood's Inspector Marc Cash, who said confirmed that security patrols across Barnet, Brent and Harrow had been stepped up to ensure the community feels safe.

“The entire JCoSS community will remain caring, sensitive and vigilant to each other’s needs,” Lee said.

“We stand shoulder to shoulder with the State of Israel at this challenging time. It is our intention to proactively support our students, families and the entire JCoSS community during these difficult times.”

Yavneh College executive headteacher Spencer Lewis also sought to reassure parents, saying he is in contact with the CST who are liaising with the police and other security services.

“School security is of prime importance and our security team will be even more vigilant than they usually are,” Lewis said.

Yesterday morning, the school was brought together for a special assembly “as an act of solidarity and a time for reflection”.

At the assembly, Lewis spoke of how “as a school community are so connected, along with the entire Jewish nation with everything that happens in Israel. All we pray for is peace, an end to all conflict and a return of those taken captive”.

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