Lack of Jewish secondary school places creating a “very stressful time” for parents

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Lack of Jewish secondary school places creating a “very stressful time” for parents

Stephen is the Jewish News' Foreign Editor


by Stephen Oryszczuk

Jewish leaders this week acknowledged that the lack of places in Jewish secondary schools was creating a “very stressful time” for parents, some of whom launched a protest group in disgust.

Dozens of families have been left in limbo in the race to get their children into the Jewish secondary school of their choice, as the stark lack of co-ordination became clear.

As the week wore on, inundated schools made further offers, but the head of the Jewish education umbrella group said there was still work to do.

“There are still quite a few parents waiting,” said Rabbi David Meyer, director of Partnerships for Jewish Schools (PaJeS), a division of the Jewish Leadership Council. “But it is very difficult to know exactly how many, as some may have a place in one Jewish school but have a preference for another.”

Meyer said PaJeS had offered to collate a list of all the parents still waiting for places “to help clarify the situation and coordinate between the schools,” adding that the schools themselves had already written to a group of parents.

“We have liaised with the Facebook [protest] group and with the United Synagogue who have been gathering a list of names,” Meyer said on Wednesday. “According to the lists, there are currently 36 children without places [but] I suspect there may be more.”

The appeals process may mean more children getting into their first choice secondary, but as the dust settled, former Hasmonean High School head Meyer admitted that it had been a bruising time for many families.

“This is a very stressful time for parents who quite rightly would like to see their children educated in the Jewish school of their choosing,” he said. “The schools are doing everything they can to accommodate their needs.”

Several Jewish primary school headteachers, including Angela Gartland at Rosh Pinah and Ruth Gafson at Moriah, have expressed sympathy with parents who formed an online group to ask for reforms.

“A resolution needs to be found,” said Gartland. “I have anxious children who feel let down by the system. It’s an increasing problem.”

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