Samantha Cameron, Emma Castleton & Kisharon pupils (Photo: Zoe Norfolk)

Samantha Cameron, Emma Castleton & Kisharon pupils (Photo: Zoe Norfolk)

Kisharon has announced plans to expand its day school in Finchley Road after purchasing a building next to the current site.

During a reception hosted by Samantha Cameron, the charity revealed that it intends to create a single state-of-the-art facility to double the capacity of the special needs school from the current 37 children aged four to 19, though planning permission has still to be sought.

Chief executive Dr Beverley Jacobson told the Jewish News that, while a recent Ofsted inspection found the school to be good with outstanding features, the limited capacity was an obstacle to greater excellence.

“We don’t have enough children to be able to group them with children with similar difficulties,” she said.

“We’re currently generalists rather than specialists. The facilities don’t do justice to the type of education we’re trying to provide, so something has to be done with a level of urgency.”

Samantha Cameron welcomed more than 100 supporters of the Jewish special needs charity to 10 Downing Street on Tuesday night. Guests included children and young adults with learning difficulties who are supported by the charity and their parents, and trustees.

Chatting to Jacobson and Kisharon chairman Philip Goldberg, the Prime Minister’s wife heard about plans to expand Kisharon Day School in north-west London, which had achieved “outstanding pupil welfare” according to Ofsted, but was restricted by limited space. She also learned about the charity’s social enterprise and adult employment training programme in the wider community.

Cameron said: “Kisharon is a truly amazing charity and a lifeline to so many parents [of children with special needs], as David and I know well.  To find somewhere and someone to leave your child and to know they will be safe, stimulated and happy. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”

She also praised the people in their room for their “kindness and generosity”.

Addressing the gathering, Jacobson said: “This is a very special occasion for Kisharon for a number of reasons and I am delighted to share our exciting news that we have purchased additional premises adjoining our school in Golders Green with a view to construction of a state-of-the-art special educational needs school for young people aged four to 19.

“This project is in its infancy and is ahead of a consultation process or getting planning permission. It is the start of a dream.”

Jacobson has first-hand knowledge of the effect of having a child with profound learning difficulties and complex needs can have on families, as her own daughter Talya, now 19, caught meningitis at birth which resulted in brain damage and cerebral palsy, and she is visually impaired.

She added: “We are enormously grateful to Mrs Cameron for hosting this reception.   Not only have we enjoyed the privilege of coming to Downing Street, but it has been a fantastic opportunity to spread awareness of our work and fly the flag for people with disabilities.”