JFS has denied claims that it has sacked four long-serving members of its pastoral care staff – as an online petition to reinstate the employees approached one thousand signatures.

Europe’s largest Jewish secondary school dismissed “factually incorrect” reports that it asked the community officers, who  provide social and emotional support to students, to leave – one of whom has been employed at the school for almost 20 years.

A petition to “keep Will, Caroline, Jude, and Warren at JFS” neared one thousand signatures on Friday.

Set up by Claudia Kaye, the petition claims they were dismissed “after the resignation of Mr Miller as headteacher” and urges students to “please sign the petition to keep them in.”

On her Facebook page, Claudia responded to one user asking how she found out by saying it was “confirmed by Caroline, crying today at school.”

However, school sources told Jewish News that nobody has been sacked: “It is important that factually incorrect statements are not allowed to remain unchallenged however we must also respect the need for professional courtesy and discretion.”

Following speculation about the future of the school after the departure of ex-headteacher Jonathan Miller, the spokesperson added: “We are working hard to enhance the provision of the highest calibre support for our students by increasing investment in a range of areas.”

The news comes after JFS accepted the resignation of Jonathan Miller as headteacher, following an unexplained leave of absence.

JFS ex-head Jonathan Miller

JFS ex-head Jonathan Miller

Miller, who spent 30-years at the school with eight in the top role, said he wanted to “explore other professional opportunities”, in a letter sent on his behalf to parents.

JFS said it would “celebrate his many achievements and successes”.

In a second letter from chairman of governors Steven Woolf, JFS announced that Debby Lipkin, consultant headteacher during Miller’s leave, will take on the role of executive head teacher. Lipkin will work with acting headteacher Simon Appleman.

In 2014, Ofsted inspectors downgraded JFS from an ‘outstanding’ school to one that ‘requires improvement’ – a setback that Miller called “a blip in our proud history”.

Writing in Jewish News at the time, he added: “We will respond to this latest challenge by putting in place what is needed to ensure that, when the inspectors return, this is a short-lived blip in the series of Outstanding Ofsted reports JFS has always previously received. I am committed to achieving this; our students, the children of our community deserve nothing less.”