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Parents urged to be patient on places

Full extent of availability will not be clear until after Pesach, say headteachers

    It is unclear how many spaces will become available
    It is unclear how many spaces will become available

    As families who did not receive any offers in the first round of admissions earlier this month reconciled themselves to more weeks of uncertainty, Jewish primary schools in north-west London said it was still not clear whether they were facing another year to match the scale of last year's places crisis.

    Most said it was still too early to have an exact idea of numbers offered, but, anecdotally, they said that there had been some initial disappointments.

    Rosh Pinah Primary School in Edgware reported that, this year, an unprecedented number of pupils had not received any offers. Out of 52 pupils, 17 were left without a single offer.

    While Sinai Jewish Primary School in Kingsbury said that 69 pupils had received offers from Jewish schools, 16 had been offered places in non-Jewish schools (including some who wanted them and some who did not). A further five had not yet notified the school about offers.

    Clore Shalom, meanwhile, reported better results - this being its final year as a feeder school to Yavneh College, as well as JCoSS. All pupils won places, with 22 heading for Yavneh, seven going to JCoSS, and one pupil opting for a non-Jewish secondary school.

    According to Gilead Limor, who last year founded an online support network for parents whose children did not have a place, 37 new families have joined in the past week. Mr Limor said he expected numbers to increase during the following admissions rounds as families grew more desperate.

    "The bottom line is that there is another shortage this year, but it is too early to tell how large it is for now," he said.

    As all Jewish secondary state schools said they had offered their full capacity of places, the fee-paying Immanuel College in Bushey, Hertfordshire, said they had increased their intake to ease the pressure.

    Headteacher Charles Dormer said they were looking at a capacity this year of 96 places - and had offered 190 in total. He said that 103 children had accepted places, although he expected some to pull out as other offers came through. Ten full scholarships had been handed out.

    Mr Dormer said: "The market favours us at present, although we cannot celebrate the lack of supply of Jewish state secondary school places this side of Ilford which drives that market behaviour. We sympathise with the stress suffered by parents and families on our waiting list of a further five to 10 boys and girls, and when the deadline for return of deposits has passed in May, we hope to be able to welcome them all to Immanuel College."

    The headteacher said he had offered places to pupils from North West London Jewish Day School, Naima Jewish Preparatory School, Kerem School, Sacks Morasha, Woolfson Hillel, Mathilda Marks-Kennedy, Rosh Pinah, Sinai and Moriah, as well as non-Jewish primary schools.

    Rabbi David Meyer, executive director of Partnerships for Jewish Schools (Pajes), urged parents to be patient, saying it was still too early to worry.

    "It is our understanding that the applications for year seven for September 2016 are not dissimilar to the numbers applying last year, and we do not expect to see significant increases in admissions applications in the immediate future," he said.

    He said that last year almost 20 per cent of year seven admissions were offered after the first round, amounting to 150 places at Hasmonean, JCoSS, JFS and Yavneh.

    "Therefore, until the second and third round of offers are made, which will be shortly after Pesach, it is very difficult to get an accurate picture of how many students are still requiring places," he said.

    "Pajes is liaising with the secondary schools on an ongoing basis, but at this stage we would urge parents to be patient. "

    He added: "We would request that any parents holding places they do not want to please relinquish them as soon as possible."

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