Synagogue membership will no longer get your child a school place


A Jewish secondary school has been told by a government quango that it can no longer use synagogue membership as one of its requirements for entry.

The Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA), which regulates admissions, upheld a complaint against the cross-communal Jewish Community Secondary School (JCoSS) in Barnet, north London.

JCoSS gives priority to Jewish children who meet any one of four conditions: belonging to synagogue, going to services a certain number of times a year, having some previous Jewish education or family involvement in Jewish voluntary work.

But the OSA said that synagogue membership involved payments and so breached the admissions code which prohibits linking entry to financial support either to the school or an associated organisation.

JCoSS had argued that synagogues waived fees for families unable to pay.

The school's headteacher Patrick Moriarty said: "We are not minded to challenge that aspect of the ruling.

"We are looking at the implications and hope to have a new policy out for consultation in a fortnight or so."

Another Jewish school which uses synagogue membership to allocate places, King David High School in Manchester, is also awaiting a decision from the OSA.

Complaints against JCoss and King David had been brought by the Fair Admissions Campaign. The group is linked to Accord, a lobby group chaired by Reform Rabbi Jonathan Romain, which believes entry to faith schools should be open to all, regardless of faith.

FAC also challenged the right of the strictly Orthodox Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls' School to insist that pupils should not watch TV or have internet access.

The OSA rejected this complaint, ruling that a faith school was entitled to regard such conditions as part of its religious ethos.

It did, however, rule that the school should make clear in its published entry rules that if did not fill all its places, non-Charedi families could apply.

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