Yavneh College can abolish feeder schools, but must change its entry criteria for next year, following a ruling by the government’s admissions regulator.
The decision by the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) was this week hailed as a “vindication” by the Borehamwood-based secondary school, but those who objected to the current criteria warned of “continuing uncertainty” for parents until Yavneh announces its revised rules for September 2017 entry.
Thirty-three complaints were made to the OSA after Yavneh College decided to scrap feeder status for Hertsmere Jewish Primary School and Clore Shalom.
Instead, the school proposed that priority would be given to children living in the WD and AL postcodes of Hertfordshire.
However, objectors argued this was unfair, because it gave Hertfordshire parents living far away from the school an unrealistic expectation of gaining a place.
Deborah Pritchard, OSA chief executive, said this aspect was “misleading”, because “[it was] clear that a Jewish child living much more than five kilometres from the school, even if in the catchment area, is unlikely to gain a place at the school.”
In a statement, Yavneh College said it welcomed the OSA’s ruling in favour of removing feeder schools, adding that it “vindicates our long held view that these changes to the arrangements are both reasonable and fair.”
But the school also warned a knock-on effect of not using AL or WD postcodes to define the catchment area would mean a family living in Hertfordshire but far from the school, such as Radlett or Bushey, would have less of a chance of getting a place than a family living nearer to the school but in the borough of Barnet, such as Edgware.
This would in effect go against Yavneh College’s stated objective to serve the community of Hertfordshire.
The statement added: “This is a saga which has lasted many months, has forced the school to spend a very significant amount of money on legal fees and has left staff and governors facing insults, attacks on their personal and professional reputations and threats of legal action. We are pleased to be able to finally put it behind us.”
Objectors Howard Cohen and Adam Myeroff accepted the decision to scrap feeder schools, but said Yavneh had yet to come up with “lawful and fair” entry rules that would provide for the school’s commitment to serving children in Hertfordshire.
He said: “Here we are, thousands of pounds and ten months later and the school has still not come up with a set of lawful and fair entry criteria, meaning more uncertainty for anxious parents. How can this be described by the school as any kind of victory?”
One parent looking to apply for next year said: “I just want the best for my child, but we need answers now.”
Yavneh said its revised admissions policy will be published on the school website “in due course”.