Parents’ despair over shortage of school places


A mother whose daughter has failed to get into a Jewish secondary school has called on the educational authorities to provide extra places.

Debbie Diamond said her daughter had applied to go to JFS, Yavneh and JCoSS in autumn but remains on a waiting list of all three.

“There was no early warning system to say that the schools could be so heavily oversubscribed,” she said. “No one would have imagined that she wouldn’t get into all three.”

Ms Diamond — whose daughter attends a non-Jewish primary school in Mill Hill, north London — has written to the Department for Education and Hertfordshire council to urge the creation of bulge classes in the schools.

More than 40 people whose children are without a place at a Jewish secondary school have signed up to a Facebook group started by Ms Diamond’s husband.

“If there is anything else I could do, I’d like to know what,” she said.

“The thought of turning Jewish children away from a Jewish school is unheard of. Every moral fibre of my being is repulsed by it.

“A friend said she feels like a dog waiting to be thrown scraps at the table. It’s a horrible feeling.”
The deputy head of one Jewish primary school said last week that the problem of gaining entry to Jewish secondary schools in London seemed to be becoming “worse each year”.

Senior Jewish educational figures have advised parents not to give up hope, saying that places may become available in coming weeks.

Rabbi David Meyer, the new chief executive of the educational agency Partnerships for Jewish Schools, said that parents who may be holding on to places at private schools without releasing their places at mainstream Jewish schools were exacerbating the problem.

Pajes, he said, was analysing “a major piece of research to find out how many children are in each year group in every Jewish primary school in north-west London. We will then have better information on likely applications to secondary schools”.

He believed that applications had been rising, which was “fantastic”, he said. “It does reflect a positive change in attitude to the quality of Jewish secondary education.”

Ms Diamond suggested that more parents were turning to Jewish schools both because of the economic downturn from 2008, which made private education unaffordable, and a rise of antisemitism, which made parents more protective.

But the pressure on secondary places could become even more intense in future.

A number of Jewish primary schools have opened in London over the past few years whose children have yet to reach secondary age.

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