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At least 100 additional places could be created at existing Jewish secondary schools next year as Barnet Council considers proposals to meet increasing demand, writes Justin Cohen.

Several pupils were left without a place at a Jewish school for the academic year that begun this week, with experts warning that pressure on existing places is set to grow further. But the JLC’s Partnership for Jewish Schools is working with the council to develop proposals to increase provision in the borough which is home to the largest Jewish population in Britain.

Writing in today’s Jewish News, PaJeS executive director Rabbi David Meyer said: “The exceptional results at GCSE and A level are a testament to the excellence of our schools and are no doubt a factor in the increased demand we are seeing for secondary places.

“Barnet Council is working closely with PaJeS and is currently developing proposals to meet the demand from the increased number of primary pupils as they approach secondary stage. This includes exploring the possibility of expanding some of the existing secondary schools in order to cater for more children. Initial conversations would suggest that this could potentially increase provision by at least 100 places per year.”

While he said 98 percent of youngsters ended up with a place, Rabbi Meyer acknowledged some remained without “due to a quirk of the geographical location of their home, or failure to win the admissions lottery”.

He insisted the close-to 1,000 places in London meant the demand for this year did not outstrip supply, with many in Redbridge opting for schools outside of the area, leaving King Solomon undersubscribed.

While saying the community would if necessary need to explore the possibility of building a new secondary school, he wrote: “The cost of building a secondary school is very high.

We would need to staff the school at a time when schools are already struggling to ensure they have a full complement of senior leaders.

A Barnet council spokesperson said: “We are developing a number of proposals to meet the demand from the increased number of primary pupils.”