Plans for two new Jewish free schools in north London have been shelved in favour of one joint bid for “an inclusive Modern Orthodox,” organisers have said.
Parents behind the two rival projects – Barkai College and Kavanah College Free School – buried their differences late last week and now plan to submit one unified bid in the next wave of applications in April.
The merger comes after Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis last year said the Jewish community did not need – and could not resource – the establishment of two new Jewish secondary schools.
Ever since Mirvis’s intervention, managers at Partnerships for Jewish Schools (PaJeS) have been holding sometimes fraught discussions with the two bidding teams, comprising parents of pupils.
In a statement last week, those behind the new joint bid said the school “will be Modern Orthodox” and “inclusive to all parts of the Jewish and wider community, according to the Department for Education free school guidelines”. They added that they would seek a mainstream Orthodox rabbinic authority “in due course”.
In addition, they said the school’s ethos would “include a commitment to emotional well-being, social responsibility to the wider community and a commitment to inter-faith work,” adding: “There will be a maths, technology and science specialisation.”
Maurice Ashkenazi-Bakes, co-lead of the bid, said: “We have been able to create a bid that is representative of the Jewish community and that will suit the many hundreds of families who desire to give their children an outstanding secular and Jewish education.
“Our vision is to create a centre of educational excellence, implementing cutting-edge practises from some of the world’s top learning institutions, which will give all our pupils the best possible start for life in modern Britain.”
Eve Sacks, another co-lead of the bid, said: “Our joint bid brings together the particular strengths of our individual applications. The Barkai and Kavanah teams reached out to each other to develop the new joint bid, and we now have a strong team of educators overseeing and backing our efforts.
“We plan to present an application to the Department for Education that is well-rounded, and we look forward to presenting the plans in more detail as our efforts develop.”