New faith school plan for Leeds Jewish community

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Leeds could have its first Jewish secondary school opening by September.

A site in Wentworth Avenue, Alwoodley, North Leeds, is being considered for the faith school, which would eventually serve 175 pupils.

Supporters say the school is vital for those Jewish families in Leeds who want to give their children a faith-based secondary education, and currently have to send them to Manchester on a 90-mile daily round trip to the nearest suitable facility.

Conservative councillor Dan Cohen, who represents the Alwoodley ward, said: “Here in Leeds we have the third largest Jewish community in Britain.

“While the community is well-served by synagogues, an excellent primary school, kosher shop and even a dedicated radio station, it has lacked a Jewish faith secondary school.

“Local families have faced a tough choice between sending their children on a daily 90-mile round trip to continue their Jewish education in Manchester, or choose a non-faith school locally.

“The desire to create a Jewish secondary school for Leeds isn’t new.

“However the recent Free School legislation, which invites groups to propose new state-funded schools to meet parental demand, has given us new means to make it happen.”

The proposals have already been approved by the Department of Education to move to the current public consultation stage. The final report will be sent to Education Secretary Michael Gove for funding approval, which would allow the school to open in September 2013.

Jeremy Dunford, who is headteacher at Brodetsky Primary School, and would be Executive Principal Designate for the Leeds Jewish Free School, said it would be an “ambitious school which places academic excellence, spiritual wellbeing and strong moral ethics at the heart of school life”.

Consultation drop-in meetings will be held at Brodetsky Primary School on Wednesday, January 16 at 1pm, 3pm and 7pm.

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