Board of Deputies discusses community cohesion in roundtable discussion with Justine Greening

A meeting with the Education Secretary was called to discuss the promotion of community cohesion following the lifting of the 50 per cent cap for faith-based admissions to free schools with a religious character.

Commenting on the meeting, Phil Rosenberg, Director of Public Affairs at the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: “This was a welcome opportunity to discuss the new opportunity for Jewish faith free schools when the 50 per cent cap is lifted. Community cohesion is a high priority for our community, particularly in light of stubbornly high antisemitism figures. We made two key points at the meeting. Firstly, cohesion should not be seen as ‘stigma’ for schools with a faith character. It must be a duty for all schools. Secondly, while it is important that all our schools should play their part in promoting community cohesion, we need a flexible approach that recognises that one size does not fit all. Robust community cohesion programmes might look different in say, a Modern Orthodox school, a Progressive school or a Charedi school.

“It is the outcome of community cohesion that should be most important, not the means of getting there. The biggest ‘win’ for integration and cohesion would be to incorporate more socially-conservative and economically deprived schools of all backgrounds in the programme, and not just socially-liberal schools in better off areas. We hope that the Department will take these points on board as it designs the new framework and guidelines after the lifting of the 50 per cent cap.”

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