The Jewish community in the U.K. is dynamic and whilst demographics continue to evolve the facilities that support these communities must be able to adapt to meet the changing needs of the local populations.
Whilst there has been a growth in the number of Jewish Schools across England, and in particular in North West London and Hertfordshire, these have been in response to the increased trend to send children to Jewish schools and these new schools have been located in the areas of increasing Jewish populations.
The Jewish population, surrounding Redbridge, in the outer North East of London and Essex, is long established but has, since the 1970s, been subject to decline. This has been caused by a fall in the Jewish birth rate, migration and assimilation.
The area currently has three Jewish Schools. Ilford Jewish Primary and Clore Tikva at primary level and King Solomon High School at secondary level. The JLC Commission on the Future of Jewish Schools identified the urgent need to review and reorganise Jewish school provision in the area. In order to implement this recommendation the JLC has been working with the local schools and community leaders over the past few years.
The Redbridge Local Authority’s demand for more school places, both primary and secondary, has created an opportunity for moving Ilford Jewish Primary School out of its current ageing buildings in to new buildings on the King Solomon High School site. Demand for places from local Jewish families is still strong. This is evidenced with Ilford Jewish Primary School’s nursery applications being at capacity for 2012 and 2013.
The United Synagogue, which owns the site and is supportive of this move and it has been agreed in principle, with the Local Authority, to direct the proceeds from the sale of the Ilford Jewish Primary School site towards the development of a new school building on the King Solomon High School site.
The result of this move will enable the schools to adapt their intake to ensure that they remain focussed on the local Jewish population and are able to optimise their resources to meet these needs.
It is currently estimated that the redevelopment of the school will cost £10.7 million. It is anticipated that the sale of the existing Ilford Jewish Primary School site will realise £8 million, leaving the project team to secure the shortfall of £2.7 million in order to deliver this overall project.
The project is being driven and supported by members of the Jewish Leadership Council and has been identified as one of their key projects for 2012. Jonathan S Goldstein is Chairing the Redbridge Community Change Project which has led the negotiations with Redbridge Council and is managing the development of the new school as well as promoting close collaboration between the three Jewish schools in the area.