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School rules breached

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2008-04-02

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A number of Jewish schools have been named by children's secretary Ed Balls for breaching admission codes. In one instance, a school in Barnet wanted parents to pay £895 a term for their children.

The schools were part of a sample investigation of 570 schools in Barnet, Manchester and Northampton and included other faiths.

The Jewish schools in Barnet included Beis Yaakov Primary asking £895 per child and  Hasmonean Primary requesting a £50 admission fee. In Manchester, King David Infant and High School were named for giving priority to children who already had a brother or sister attending the school.

"What you can't do is ask on the application form for parents to sign a declaration that they will pay a voluntary contribution," Balls said. "In my judgment as a parent, parents would not think of that as voluntary. I do not think it is consistent with free state education to sign commitments to pay hundreds of pounds per term."

In a statement responding to Balls' report, the Board of Deputies said: "Many of the schools are in the process of correcting their admissions forms. In most cases this will require only minor changes. All parties accept that financial contributions must be voluntary. It is important to remember that these are primarily fees for security or religious instruction, neither of which is paid for by the Government under the current funding formula."