Skip to main content

Rise in Jewish children attending faith schools

Report says a near doubling of the number of Jewish children in faith schools is partly explained by the growth of the Orthodox population in the UK

News article image

Report says a near doubling of the number of Jewish children in faith schools is partly explained by the growth of the Orthodox population in the UK

A report from the Institute for Jewish Policy Research says much of the increase was driven by the number of pupils going to strictly Orthodox schools.

A smaller growth in pupil numbers was also seen in mainstream Jewish schools, the analysis of DfE data finds.

In 2014-15, 30,900 Jewish pupils were enrolled in Jewish schools, compared to 16,700 in 1995-96, even though the overall population of that faith is falling.

The authors say the growth in the proportion of strictly Orthodox Jews in relation to the British Jewish community overall explains much of the increase.

“This is simply because the uptake of Jewish schools is nearly universal among the strictly Orthodox", the authors say.

The report says other explanations could include parents turning to faith schools to give their children the strong grounding in Jewish life they felt ill-equipped to offer themselves.

It adds: “Push factors away from general schools might also play a part – concerns about being one of a very small number of Jews among a student body, fears of antisemitism, anxieties about a child having too few Jewish friends, and apprehension about – or rejection of – multiculturalism may be involved.”

The report also highlights regional differences, with a 72 per cent increase in Jewish pupils enrolling in mainstream Jewish schools in the London area since the mid-1990s, compared to a 23 per cent decrease outside London.

In the same period, the number of pupils attending strictly Orthodox schools rose by 118 per cent in London, and 231 per cent in Manchester.

The report adds that a further 1,400 strictly Orthodox children aged 11-15 are believed to be educated in Jewish schools not included in the Department for Education’s figures.

In May, Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said the organisation had identified more than 100 suspected illegal schools in England – with the majority believed to be Jewish or Muslim.

But rabbis have accused the inspectorate of unfairly targeting Jewish institutions during its investigation of unregistered schools in the community.

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow TES on Twitter and like TES on Facebook

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you