Golders Green primary school criticised after giving preference to children attending principal’s synagogue

Rimon Jewish Primary School in Golders Green. Picture: Polly Hancock

Rimon Jewish Primary School in Golders Green. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

A Jewish free school has been criticised by the government after its admissions policy was found to favour families who paid subscription fees to certain synagogues.

An investigation into Rimon Jewish Primary School, prompted by an anonymous complaint from a member of the public, found it failed to meet several standards set by the Department for Education when it offered pupils places.

The Golders Green school, which opened in 2012 and was praised in a recent Ofsted report, was found to have ranked Jewish children applying to the school depending on their family’s synagogue.

This led to a situation where prospective pupils whose families paid subscription fees to Golders Green Synagogue – ranked at the top of the list and closely associated with the school – would be given first priority over others.

The rabbi of Golders Green Synagogue, Dr Harvey Belovski, is a governor of the school and its religious principal.

The Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) concluded in its report, published this month, that “membership of the synagogue directly affects the priority of the child for a place”. This was said to breach policy that school’s “must not give priority on the basis of any practical or financial support parents may give to the school or any associated organisation”.

However, the OSA dismissed the complainant’s suggestion that there was a “lack of accountability” over admissions due to rabbi Belovski’s role. The school told the OSA that attendance at Golders Green Synagogue “results in no personal gain for the rabbi and he is not involved in the allocation of school places”. The OSA agreed.

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On top of committing to change its policy regarding synagogue membership, the OSA said the school would also no longer require prospective faith pupils to attend two services every week, with the OSA deeming this “too high”.

It added that the school “recognised arrangements did not conform with requirements and accepted the need to make changes”.

The school failed to provide the Ham&High with a statement.