There was good news this week for parents hoping to send their children to one of the big state-aided Jewish secondary schools — a serious drop in the waiting list for places.
Rabbi David Meyer, executive director of PaJeS — Partnership for Jewish Schools — told the Jewish News: “Currently there is a 30 per cent drop in the numbers on the waiting list in comparison to last year. There are no doubt a number of factors feeding in to this, the most significant of which is the additional places offered across the schools. The JPR report that PaJeS commissioned to look at future provision has been completed, and shows that the number of applications for secondary places should remain at a similar level in future years.”
PaJeS is heavily involved, together with the United Synagogue and the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) , in forward planning for Jewish schools. A new study, commissioned by PaJeS, will be released in a few weeks’ time by the JPR, which builds on the data in its March 2017 survey.
A great deal of the forecasting depends on the take-up in Jewish primary education.
Rabbi Meyer said that currently “it is very early in the process and we don’t as yet have conclusive data regarding primary schools and places, as the first round of offers has only just gone out. However, the initial indications are that there are enough school places across north-west London to meet the demand”.
But he acknowledged that there “are pressures on certain schools, due to factors including location and religious ethos.”
The new study, Rabbi Meyer said, would help with planning for the next five years. It could already be seen, however, that there was a definite increase in the numbers of religious children applying for primary school places, and a slight drop in the numbers of more secular applicants. Much depended on geographical location, with huge pressure on schools in Borehamwood.
In Hertfordshire alone there has been a rise in applications for places at Yavneh Primary, from 170 in 2017 to 191 this year; for places at Hertsmere Jewish Day, from 153 to 184 — both Yavneh and Hertsmere have 60 school places each; and 73 children’s names have been put down for the 30 places at Clore Shalom, a rise from last year’s 38 applications.
In order to avoid a situation where children who have had Jewish primary school education and can’t find a place at a Jewish sec-ondary school, the secondary schools are implementing a “bulge” programme and are increasing the number of places on offer.