JFS (school)

This article is about the Jews' Free School. For the other school abbreviated to "JFS", see The John Fisher School.
Established 1732
Type Voluntary aided comprehensive
Religion Orthodox Judaism
President Lord Michael Levy
Headteacher Debbie Lipkin (Temp)
Chair Ms Ruth Renton
Location The Mall
England, UK
Coordinates: 51°34′52″N 0°16′53″W / 51.58118°N 0.28135°W / 51.58118; -0.28135
Local authority Brent
DfE number 304/4033
DfE URN 133724 Tables
Ofsted Reports
Students 2090
Gender Coeducational
Ages 11–18
Houses Angel     , Brodetsky     , Weizmann      & Zangwill     
Website www.jfs.brent.sch.uk

JFS (formerly known as the Jews' Free School[2] and later Jewish Free School[3]) is a Jewish mixed comprehensive school in Kenton, north London, England. At one time it was the largest Jewish school in Europe, with more than 4,000 pupils.[4]


Head teachers

2008–2016 Jonathan Miller
1993–2007 Ruth Robins, DBE[5]
1985–1993 Josephine Wagerman, OBE[6]
1973–1984 Leslie Gatoff
1958–1972 [7] Dr Edward Conway

Other staff

Houses and other traditions

JFS operates the house system and has four houses for organisational purposes. Students must wear a tie with stripes in their house colour, e.g. blue for Brodetski students.

Name of House Named after Colour
Angel Moses Angel Red     
Brodetsky Selig Brodetsky Blue     
Weizmann Chaim Weizmann Green     
Zangwill Israel Zangwill Yellow     

Both Brodetsky and Zangwill were former students, Angel was the first headmaster and Weizmann, who has several links to the school, was the first president of the state of Israel.

Students are split into their respective houses for most classes in Years 7, 8 and 9 as well as inter-house competitions, such as football and basketball.

A tradition called "muck-up day" involves Year 11 students celebrating the last day of formal schooling before their GCSE examinations with various pranks. In May 2015 this descended into "a near-riot", with more than 300 pupils barred from the campus after a minority spread foam, eggs, flour and dead chickens around the school. The police were called after some students broke through a security fence and let off fireworks, but no arrests were made.[8]


The school moved from Camden Town to Kenton in 2002 to represent the demand of the Jewish population of London moving further out towards the suburbs of the city. There are special bus routes, provided by Transport for London (TfL), between the school and several areas with a large Jewish population, such as Edgware, Mill Hill, Southgate, Barnet, Hendon, Muswell Hill, Radlett and Elstree.[9]

Academic results

In 2007, with 53% of the school's attempted GCSE exams receiving grades of A* or A.[10] In 2012 JFS was at the top of the School League Tables for GCSE in Brent and A-Level results were the best of all the mainstream Jewish schools.[11]

JFS has been named as the top mixed comprehensive school in the official DFES league tables. In an independent analysis of the 2007 A Level results of almost 1000 secondary schools in England and Wales, JFS was placed in the top 1% of schools for value-added achievement.

Controversy over admissions criteria

In October 2006, a Jewish father made enquiries with the United Synagogue as to whether his son, born to a mother who had been converted to Judaism under the auspices of the Masorti (Conservative)[12] denomination, could convert under Orthodox auspices for entry to JFS in September 2007. He was advised the process could take several years and that such applications to JFS are very rarely successful given that the school is highly oversubscribed. He applied for his son but did not declare to the school's admissions board the mother's conversion history.

By April 2007, he had not supplied JFS with the requested information, whereupon the school advised him that, being oversubscribed that year, it was unlikely his son could be offered a place. He thereupon unsuccessfully appealed for reconsideration of his application.[13]

In July 2008, the father sought to prosecute JFS on the grounds of racial discrimination, but High Court judge, Mr Justice Munby, ruled contrariwise, holding JFS' selection criteria were not intrinsically different from Christian or Islamic faith schools and their being declared illegal could adversely affect "the admission arrangements in a very large number of faith schools of many different faiths and denominations".[14]

The Court of Appeal, however, in June 2009 declared that JFS, under the Race Relations Act 1976, had illegally discriminated against the child on grounds of race. They ruled that the mother's religious status, and thus her child's religious status, had been determined using a racial criterion rather than a religious criterion.[15][16] The school subsequently issued revised admissions criteria based on religious practice including synagogue attendance, formal Jewish education and volunteering.[17][18] JFS and the United Synagogue appealed to the Supreme Court, with the support of chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks.[19] On 16 December 2009, the UK Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal's ruling.[20][21][22]

Notable former pupils


  1. Nicola Woolcock (2009-10-27). "Jewish school JFS in Supreme Court to deny it broke law by turning boy away". London: TimesOnline.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-11-09. JFS, formerly the Jewish Free School, which is heavily oversubscribed,...
  2. "Jews' Free School journal - The Jewish Museum". Jewishmuseum.org. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  3. "Jewish Free School, Camden Road, Camden LB". Discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk. January 1973. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  4. "At one time JFS had 4,000 children on roll and was the largest school in the world." – http://www.jfs.brent.sch.uk/jfs-history.aspx
  5. TotallyJewish.com website
  6. Later elected first female president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. Rachel Sylvester (17 July 2000). "First woman elected to lead Jewish board". The Telegraph. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  7. I, Jonathan Goldsmith, left in 1975 and Gatoff had been there 2 years by then
  8. Freeman, Simon; Moore-Bridger, Benedict (8 May 2015). "300 pupils are sent home after exam day 'riot'". London Evening Standard. p. 21.
  9. "Protected Page - Enter password - JFS". Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  10. "JFS Home". Retrieved 2007-09-06.
  11. "Secondary school league tables in Brent". BBC News. 21 March 2012.
  12. Jonathan Romain (2009-10-27). "JFS puts faith schools in the dock". London: guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-11-09.
  13. Graham Tibbets, "Boy refused admission to leading Jewish school was 'not victim of racial discrimination'", The Telegraph, 3 July 2008
  14. R(E) v Governing Body of JFS [{{{year}}}] EWHC 1535 (Admin) (3 July 2008)
  15. "Jewish school admissions unlawful", BBC, 25 June 2009
  16. R(E) v Governing Body of JFS [{{{year}}}] EWCA Civ 626 (25 June 2009)
  17. JFS (2009-08-28). "JFS – Admissions". Archived from the original on February 3, 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-16.
  18. "Admissions Year 7 | JFS". www.jfs.brent.sch.uk. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
  19. Simon Rocker, "JFS: What's Next?", Jewish Chronicle, 3 July 2009
  20. "Jewish school loses places fight". BBC News. 16 December 2009. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
  21. R(E) v Governing Body of JFS [2009] UKSC 15
  22. For a detailed summary of the decision see http://humanrightsinireland.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/the-uk-supreme-court-dismisses-the-jewish-free-school-appeal/
  23. Simon Rocker (11 February 2010). "Bibi and the boy wonder". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 25 February 2010.
  24. "From the archive: The Drapers Interview with River Island founder Bernard Lewis". Retrieved 23 September 2016.

External links

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