JFS (school)

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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 Mr Jonathan Miller
Chair Mr Michael Glass
Location The Mall
England England 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)[1] is a Jewish secondary school in Kenton, north London. It presently accepts both male and female students. At one time it had more than 4,000 students attending[2] making this school the largest Jewish school in Europe.

There were just 1400 pupils at JFS in its prime from 1968 - 1975 when based in Camden Town. Previous to 1968 there was no 6th Form building so there were less pupils. With 4 Houses of 2 Classes of 30 per House per year = 240 per year for 1st - 5th Forms (11-16years) 6th and Upper 6th were approximately half size of 120 pupils maximum - So 1,440 pupils not the 4,000 quoted above.


Head teachers[edit]

2008–Present Jonathan Miller
1993–2007 Ruth Robins, DBE[3]
1985–1993 Josephine Wagerman, OBE[4]
1973–1984 Leslie Gatoff
1958–1972 [5] Dr Edward Conway


Other staff[edit]


JFS implements the house system and has four houses. However, the houses are purely for organisational purposes and are not reflective of personality or capabilities. There is some speculation that certain characteristics are more common in certain houses; for example, Zangwill is considered the athletic house by some, whilst Angel is often seen as the religious house. It is mandatory for students to wear a tie with coloured stripes corresponding to 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 was the first president of the state of Israel, who has several links to the school.

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.


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, Borehamwood, Elstree and others.[6]

Academic results[edit]

In 2007, with 53% of the school's attempted GCSE exams receiving grades of A* or A.[7] 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.[8]

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.The analysis was undertaken by ALPS (A Level Performance System) an organisation funded by the Learning and Skills Council - the government agency which funds all post 16 and adult education in the country.[citation needed]

Controversy over admissions criteria[edit]

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[9] movement, 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.[10]

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".[11]

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.[12][13] The school subsequently issued revised admissions criteria based on religious practice including synagogue attendance, formal Jewish education and volunteering.[14] JFS and the United Synagogue appealed to the Supreme Court, with the support of chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks.[15] On 16 December 2009, the UK Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal's ruling.[16][17][18]

Notable former pupils[edit]


  1. ^ a b 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. ^ "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
  3. ^ TotallyJewish.com website
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ I, Jonathan Goldsmith, left in 1975 and Gatoff had been there 2 years by then
  6. ^ JFS Web site: Transport
  7. ^ "JFS Home". Retrieved 2007-09-06. 
  8. ^ "Secondary school league tables in Brent". BBC News. 21 March 2012. 
  9. ^ Jonathan Romain (2009-10-27). "JFS puts faith schools in the dock". London: guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  10. ^ Graham Tibbets, "Boy refused admission to leading Jewish school was 'not victim of racial discrimination'", The Telegraph, 3 July 2008
  11. ^ R(E) v Governing Body of JFS [{{{year}}}] EWHC 1535 (Admin) (3 July 2008)
  12. ^ "Jewish school admissions unlawful", BBC, 25 June 2009
  13. ^ R(E) v Governing Body of JFS [{{{year}}}] EWCA Civ 626 (25 June 2009)
  14. ^ JFS (2009-08-28). "JFS - Admissions". Retrieved 2009-11-16. [dead link]
  15. ^ Simon Rocker, "JFS: What's Next?", Jewish Chronicle, 3 July 2009
  16. ^ "Jewish school loses places fight". BBC News. 16 December 2009. Retrieved 6 May 2010. 
  17. ^ R(E) v Governing Body of JFS [2009] UKSC 15
  18. ^ 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/
  19. ^ Simon Rocker (11 February 2010). "Bibi and the boy wonder". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 25 February 2010. 

External links[edit]