JFS (formerly known as the Jews' Free School and later Jewish Free School) is a Jewish mixed comprehensive school
, North London, England. Amongst its early supporters was the writer and philanthropist Charlotte Montefiore
. At one time it was the largest Jewish school in the world, with more than 4,000 pupils.
*Poet Daljit Nagra
taught English at the school, as well as other support staff roles including Learning Resource Centre Staff Member
was headmaster from 1842 to 1897
at the school in the late 19th-century
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 Brodetsky students.
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
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 small 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.
Transport and location
The school moved from Camden Town
to a new site in Kenton
in 2002 to represent the demand of the Jewish population of London
moving further out towards the suburbs of the city. The school is within the jurisdiction of the London Borough of Brent
, while its post town is Harrow
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
, Muswell Hill
. The nearest train station is Kingsbury
), which is a few minutes' walk away. Preston Road
) is also nearby.
The list of bus routes are as follows: 653, 683, 688, 628 and B76
In 2007, with 53% of the school's attempted GCSE exams receiving grades of A* or A. 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.
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 school won a Wellbeing at School Award in 2021.
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)
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.
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
ic 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".
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. The school subsequently issued revised admissions criteria based on religious practice including synagogue attendance, formal Jewish education and volunteering.
JFS and the United Synagogue appealed to the Supreme Court
, with the support of chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks
. On 16 December 2009, the UK Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal's ruling.
Notable former pupils
, mathematician, Zionist leader, and President of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
, journalist and Channel 4 News
, Internet prankster and magician
* Dean Furman
(born 1988) - professional footballer
, academic, social thinker and Labour life peer
, first President of the American Federation of Labor
, founder of luxury clothing retail company Ted Baker
* Josh Kennet
(born 1987), English-Israeli footballer
, chairman and CEO of Universal Music UK
, founder and owner, River Island
, game designer, Argonaut Games
*Joel Samuels – DJ Luck
, Labour politician
JFS official websiteOFSTED ReportJFS unofficial student forum
Category:Secondary schools in the London Borough of Brent
Category:Educational institutions established in 1732
Category:1732 establishments in England
Category:Jewish English history
Category:Jewish schools in England
Category:Voluntary aided schools in London