Jewish leaders have welcomed government curbs on secularist campaigners with a “theological grudge” against Jewish schools’ admissions policies from making “vexatious complaints”.
It comes after the Department for Education announced new measures to “unclog the admissions system by stopping objections” and “stopping vexatious complaints against faith schools from secularist campaign groups”.
England’s Schools Adjudicator Elizabeth Passmore had earlier said pressure groups were raising her office costs to more than £1 million annually.
Board of Deputies’ vice president Sheila Gewolb said: “We would echo the Schools Adjudicator’s concerns that certain anti-faith campaigning groups are filling her inbox with vexatious complaints.”
She added: “The Admissions system should be designed to enable pupils to get in to the best and most suitable school for them, not to settle theological grudge-matches.”
Rabbi David Meyer, the director of the Partnership for Jewish Schools (PaJeS), part of the Jewish Leadership Council, said: “The government is to be applauded for putting a stop to the vexatious complaints of secularist societies against school admissions policies.”
He added: “These complaints have cost the Adjudicator’s office hundreds of thousands of pounds and have similarly impacted the schools, who have had to dedicate time and resources that would have been far better utilised educating their students.”
However Reform Rabbi Jonathan Romain, who heads the Fairer Admissions Campaign (FAC), said: “Being able to make complaints about a sample of schools, as we did, enabled us to make a series of extrapolations about systemic problems, which is clearly in the public interest.”
In a statement, the FAC said the Education Secretary’s new Schools Admissions Code, introduced on Monday, was “a thinly veiled attack” against secular campaign groups, who accuse “almost every religiously-selective school in England” of “breaking the law”.
Hundreds of thousands of parents across the country last week applied to get their children into their preferred primary school, but will now need to wait until April to find out whether their application was successful.