Jewish education chiefs this week spoke of “significant challenges” faced by Jewish schools as a result of a real-term reduction in funding, with one chair of governors describing the situation as “beyond a nightmare”.
Confirmation that Jewish schools were also feeling the pinch followed a Downing Street protest of headteachers representing more than 5,000 schools, a week before Chancellor Philip Hammond is due to deliver his next Budget speech.
Jewish school leaders said they were being “absolutely starved of funds” after the introduction of a new national funding formula, which reallocates money to schools with “high needs” across the country.
“We’re at the forefront of this nightmare,” said Joshua Rowe, chair of governors at King David High School in Manchester. “Our school is effectively lost. Five years ago we got £5 million per year, this year it’s £3.7m.”
Rowe added: “Everywhere you look, costs have rocketed. The Government has dumped special needs on us, and it has changed the curriculum entirely, so we have to buy all new books. It’s beyond a nightmare.”
Rabbi David Meyer, the executive director of Partnerships for Jewish Schools (PaJeS), agreed that the “reduction in school funding is making the delivery of a high quality education increasingly difficult”.
He said: “Jewish schools are suffering at least as much as all state schools and they look to the government for additional funding. The pressure on school budgets highlights the importance of parental voluntary contributions which are so important for supporting the delivery of education within our schools.”
Rowe said the school had asked parents to donate but that they “had not been particularly forthcoming,” adding: “The unintended consequence of this redistribution is that you’re punishing good schools like ours and actually rewarding failure.”
He said the school, which has held several increasingly desperate fundraising events, had written to the Department of Education “hundreds of times” but said they had neither heard from nor seen Secretary of State Justine Greening.
Asked where next for King David, recently named the third best comprehensive school in the country, Rowe said: “Don’t ask.”