Parents struggling to get their children into a Jewish secondary in Barnet have been told to send them to Whitefield School in Cricklewood instead.
The recommendation was made last week by Partnerships for Jewish Schools (PaJeS), a division of the Jewish Leadership Council, after the headteacher of Whitefield School agreed to offer Jewish Studies.
Pajes said it is aiming to offer a special Jewish studies programme delivered under the auspices of the United Synagogue. It is also exploring the possibility of the Kosher food provision.
Ahead of any new Jewish school opening in September 2018, education chiefs have sought a series of stop-gap measures, including several “bulge classes” created in existing schools, in the wake of growing concern over a lack of places.
This week, a spokesman for PaJeS praised Whitefield School as having “a strong ethos,” adding: “Whilst this may not be the first preference for parents, it offers the opportunity for a child not gaining a place at a Jewish school to be educated in a supportive and sympathetic environment, with the possibility of socialising with other Jewish students, and with the provision of Jewish Studies.”
The umbrella body said it was advising parents that they should include Whitefield as one of the options on the School Application Form (CAF) applications form, which must be submitted by 31 October, with Whitefield welcoming prospective parents and students to visit the school.
The latest initiative comes as tense negotiations continue between parents backing two separate bids to open a new Jewish free school in north London.
Applications were submitted to the Department for Education from Kavanagh College, which is backed by the United Synagogue, and Barkai College, which also describes itself as Modern Orthodox.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has said that two new Jewish secondary schools would be “irresponsible and impractical,” and that only one new school should open, but after a difficult meeting this month, arbitrators at PaJeS said “a meeting of minds isn’t easy”.