Britain’s first non-denominational Jewish school gets green light


7 February 2006 World ORT has welcomed the British governments decision to back plans for a non-denominational Jewish secondary school in London. The Jewish Community Secondary School (JCoSS), on whose board of governors World ORT will have two seats, will be the first inclusive Jewish secondary school in the country. It is hoped to open the school in September 2009. We are very pleased that the government is now formally behind this trailblazing project, World ORT Director General Robert Singer said. We look forward to putting ORTs 125 years of experience into what we aim to make a specialist school in science with a focus on biotechnology and nanotechnology. Last week, the Department for Education and Skills formally invited the JCoSS Trust to participate in what it described as a pilot of parent-promoted schools. The government hopes to launch up to four other such schools in the non-Jewish community over the next few years. This is an exciting opportunity for you to establish a new school to meet the aspirations of pupils, parents, staff and the local community to provide an excellent 21st-century education, said Sally Brooks, the Departments Head of Schools Capital (Policy and Delivery), in a letter to the Trust. An artists impression of the JCoSS campus. British ORT Chairman Alan Goldman, who has spearheaded ORTs involvement in the project over the past two years, said he was delighted that the JCoSS plan now had formal government backing following the disappointment of its decision last year not to fund the schools 46 million grant application. There is still much work to be done but we are now one step closer to realising our dream of bringing ORTs worldwide expertise in scientific and technological education to Britain, Mr Goldman said. Over the next two years, JCoSS and the local education authority will work together with the Department for Education and Skills support to agree the feasibility, scope and costs of establishing the new school. The Department has agreed to provide the capital investment needed once the exact building work required has been decided. Celebrating the signing of the JCoSS-World ORT agreement in June 2005 (from left): ORTs Mark Mishon and David Woolf, JCoSS trustee and joint Chairman Linda Cooke, JCoSS trustee and legal advisor Richard Gold, British ORT Chairman Alan Goldman, JCoSS Trustee Marc Herman, World ORT Director General Robert Singer, JCoSS joint Chairman Jonathan Fingerhut, World ORT Deputy Director General Dr Gideon Meyer. Located in north-west London, which hosts a large concentration of Jewish residents, JCoSS will be open on an equal basis to all Jewish children, irrespective of their birth status and synagogue affiliation. It will provide a new model for faith-based, inclusive secondary education for the UK designed to encourage a positive approach to multiculturalism, to have an active involvement with the wider local community and to discourage religious factionalism. World ORT will advise on the design of buildings, laboratories and classrooms and will help to develop the schools syllabus beyond official requirements, particularly with regard to science and technology. In coordination with the community and the local education authority, ORT will also provide assistance and training on integrating information and communications technology to other teachers in the district. World ORT, founded in 1880, is the worlds largest Jewish education and vocational training non-government organisation with some 270,000 students Jewish and non-Jewish in 58 countries.