Saturday 12 February 2011

The New Jewish School for Mill Hill ***** Updated 15/2/2011

************** Updated 15/2/2011 *****************
I've just been informed that the school will not be in the Garden Centre Site, it will be in the HMS Barrosa Sea Cadet building on the other side of the Car Park.
I've been bombarded with calls & texts regarding the news that the new Jewish school in Mill Hill is going to be located in the site currently housing Wyevale Garden Centre in Daws Lane (formerly Mill Hill Swimming Pool).
There are many aspects of this which I believe are positive. Firstly Barnet has a shortage of school places, which the school will help relieve. I've no doubt that it will be heavily oversubscribed and this will take the pressure off other local schools. I've no doubt that it will offer a great quality of education. As all my children have attended faith schools, I believe that parental choice in such matters is a right. It is fair to say that faith schools generally provide a higher standard of education (as born out by results) and the requirement for parents to contribute a minimum of 10% to capital costs mean that it is a cheap option for Councils needing to increase provision.

I don't subscribe to the arguements of their opponents. I think we should try and average up, not dumb down. I attended RC schools from age 4-15. Interestingly enough, I was talking to Romal, owner of the Day of The Raj, who is a Muslim and also attended Finchley Catholic High School. He said that he got a first class education there and would send his children there if possible. Like all parents, he wants a decent education and recognises the value of a traditional framework. FCHS is committed to the comprehensive system delivering a great education to pupils of all levels. I am pleased that they are not considering the "academy" route.

Having said all of that I have two major reservations about the new Jewish School, neither of which have anything to do with the "jewish" element of the establishment. Firstly the location. The site of the former swimming pool was donated to the London Borough of Barnet, to be used as a swimming pool for the community. There is a chronic lack of recreational facilities for young people and the school will ensure that the site will never be returned to community usage. There are plenty of empty sites which were formerly educational establishments in Mill Hill. St Josephs College on Lawrence St, St Marys Abbey (Holcombe House) and the former St Vincents School buildings. All of these have owners wanting to convert them into flats/houses. I'd rather see existing sites reused.

Secondly there is the traffic implications. I suspect that the school will result in even more traffic jams in the Borough. This may have implications for the A41/A1 as traffic starts to tail back, buses get delayed and Mill Hill grinds to a halt. 150 cars all wanting to stop in the same place at the same time, will have a huge impact on traffic. When St Vincents School was redeveloped, a suggestion was made to have a dedicated drop off point, off the road. This was rejected on the grounds that the Local Authority wanted to encourage public transport usage. Chaos has ensued on the Ridgeway. I'm all for improved school provision, but serious thought should be given to minimising the disruption they cause everyone else.

I have been told that the school will open in September. I recall the debates regarding JCoSS and the development issues. I supported the development, but I like many people was not happy with the Environmental impact. Sadly Barnet Council seems to give no thought at all to such matters. The sad truth is that, as  a society, we are addicted to our cars. Any school (or any other development) should be designed with this in mind. Burying heads in sand has just resulted in gridlock at School time. Radical solutions are needed, but will not be found with a knob person like Brian Coleman in charge of roads.


Mrs Angry said...

I also support the encouragement of faith schools, and I can understand the need for this new school but I wonder if it is an appropriate location: new schools promise the earth with travel plans supposed to prevent kids arriving at school by car,or creating a nuisance to neighbours, but what happens after permission is granted is another matter entirely. And I am sorry to see the garden centre to go, although I suppose it is good news for the lovely Finchley Nurseries up on the Ridgeway ...

somersetchris said...

Sending children to go to a school where they are segregated due to which imaginary friend in the sky their parents believes in is wrong. In the article you said "faith schools generally provide a higher standard of education (as born out by results)". I think you need to read

Mrs Angry said...

Imaginary to you,obviously, but not to many others,and surely the issue is a question of choice and the right to follow a faith. Faith schools are not segregated in terms of ethnicity,whether Catholi, Jewish or Muslim, but share common values and religious principles. There are good and bad faith schools, but many provide a good well rounded education. And I'm not convinced that children in secular schools make much of an effort to make friends across the cultural divide.

baarnett said...

The council has always wanted to reopen Sanders Lane, according to a web site.

And looking at a map, I bet they want to join ButtonHole Lane with Laurel Way or Chanctonbury Way.

I realize some of the possibilities are actually blocked by new housing, "capping" the end of the roads now, but you get the general idea.

All the middle bit of Barnet would no doubt be covered by the missing roads and by housing, were it not for a Mr Hitler deciding he wanted a world war.

There's an excellent video on all this by a very talented Barnet yoof, at YouTube.

Rog T said...


I've read this before. Why do people such as you always assume that people who disagree are ignorant or uninformed. What puts me off the whole humanist movement is the self righteous smugness you bring to any debate. Thanks for the comment

Moaneybat said...

I went to schools where faith was shoved into my face on a daily basis including Sunday School but none of my children went to a faith school, the parents not being Catholic Protestant Jewish Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist enough. Two of those chldren were christened in a Lutheran church due to that country's registration system (not that old Martin was any less Catholic) and never forgotten the priest asking whether it was fine by a Catholic like me, I am truly pleased none of my kids have been indoctrinated.

However, faith or no faith, it is "surely a matter of choice" but as children we don't get that choice.

In Britain a "Free" education for the majority, has to be valued appreciated and grasped by those who wish to do so. It is a nonsense to suggest that children from secular schools do not get a good education nor that they do not make the effort to make friends across a cultural divide. Mine are doing very very well with friends from across the multi-cultural divide.

No offence intended to those with faith.

ainelivia said...

Chris, I like your line, "which imaginary friend in the sky".

However, I went to a Catholic school, where I got a good education for which I am grateful. The brainwashing I received on the religious side, well I managed to recover from that, eventually. I do recall, one of the Sisters at my school telling me that two of my friends one Protestant and one Methodist, would never get to heaven, which scared the life out of me. So I went home and told my Da, (a compassionate agnostic in secret) and his response was; "I wouldn't worry daughter, I'm sure we can all come to some arrangement and share Heaven, and I'm sure that Joyce and Margaret will be there too".

It's not the religious element of a new school that is of concern, it is the traffic problems that will ensue, and as Rog has pointed out there are other sites that may be more suitable.

I will though miss the Garden Centre, and what a pity that it cannot be reverted to use as a swimming-pool. I do hope no other part of the park will be lost to public use.

Moaneybat said...

I forgot to mention that selective girls school in the exclusive areas few can afford, where the application form at that time, wished to know if I was an Interior Designer or a Painter and Decorator? Not that selective schools don't have a place.

Wonderful dad you have and how right he is. Good man.

Mrs Angry said...

Ainelivia: I certainly don't want it returned to the swimming pool: some of the worst days of my childhood were spent shivering in the freezing changing rooms of the old pool, blue with cold, sobbing with fear about having to break the ice and jump into subzero water (or so it seemed) ...

ainelivia said...

Sorry Mrs A, as a keen swimmer in all weathers my memories of childhood swimming luckily didn't scar me.

Just a point, it seems that I got it wrong. The new school will housed in the building on the east side of Wyevale Garden Centre. I spoke to a woman I know who works at Wyevale this am, and she tells me that it is the building that used to house the local History Museum that is to be the new school.

So we both get our wish Mrs A, the Garden Centre will remain, and you will not have to freeze at the Retro Swimming Pool. Job done.

Mrs Angry said...

Phew ...