There is an “acute shortage” of Jewish school places in north-west London and this is likely to continue for five years, a major report has found.
Research examining demand and supply of Year 7 Jewish secondary state school places showed that while there was “significant overprovision” in Redbridge, there was a gap of about three class intakes in the north-west.
“Findings for north-west London show that there is a significant under-provision in Jewish state schools, which we estimate to be in the region of 90 places per year,” said authors of the report, commissioned by Partnerships for Jewish Schools (PaJeS), a division of the Jewish Leadership Council. “We expect this level of under provision to continue for the next five years or so.”
To further compound the gloomy assessment, there was a warning that the supply gap could yet grow. “Due to an increased proportion of children being educated in Jewish primary schools, our projections suggest the possibility of a further increase in demand for Jewish secondary school provision,” it said.
Researchers from the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) used statistical analysis to produce a more accurate picture of places in Jewish secondary school education in London, and acknowledged “increasing concern across the community”.
The study examined applications and admissions to the mainstream Jewish secondary state schools in and around London: Hasmonean High School, JCoSS, JFS, King Solomon High School and Yavneh College, and also looked at Immanuel College, an independent school.
Authors said the two determining factors that impact on school numbers were the number of Jewish children in any given year and their preference for Jewish schools.
“Between 2011 and 2016, the number of Jewish children increased and the preference for Jewish secondary schooling increased as well,” they said, adding that the Charedi sector continued to show longer-term growth.
However, given that UK Census data shows a decline in the number of people in the age groups under 30 in the mainstream community, the long-term trend will be for falling demand in the mainstream Jewish school population.
PaJeS director Rabbi David Meyer promised action, saying: “This year a significant number of additional places were made available across the community’s schools, which has helped to reduce the increased demand somewhat. We will be meeting schools and representatives proposing new schools to explore a community-wide strategy to meet demand.”