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Numbers of Jewish children in Jewish schools: Statistical bulletin for 2015/16 to 2017/18

Author(s): Jonathan Boyd
Date: 16 January 2019

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Produced by JPR on behalf of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and authored by JPR Executive Director, Dr Jonathan Boyd, this statistical bulletin contains data on Jewish school enrolment in the UK for the academic years 2015/16 to 2017/18. It is intended to help community educators and policy makers monitor changing trends over time and to inform thinking about the development of the field.

The report confirms and adds to our existing understanding of enrolment, demonstrating again that more and more Jewish children are going to Jewish schools. The actual number has risen from about 5,000 in the 1950s to close to 35,000 today, a period which, by contrast, has also seen the UK Jewish population as a whole decline by about 30%. The most acute numerical increase has occurred over the past twenty years or so, with the total more or less doubling from about 17,000 in the mid-1990s to the level found today.

Amongst the key findings in the paper:

  • There were 34,547 Jewish children studying in Jewish schools in the academic year 2017/18.
  • This represents an increase of 3,633 children, or 11.8% since the last figures were published for the academic year 2014/2015.
  • This increase can be observed in both the mainstream and strictly Orthodox sectors: the mainstream sector had 1,666 more Jewish children in 2017/18 compared to 2014/15; the strictly Orthodox sector had an additional 2,367 children over the same period.
  • 58% of Jewish children in Jewish schools are in strictly Orthodox schools; 42% in non-strictly Orthodox or ‘mainstream’ Jewish schools.
  • Three quarters of all Jewish children in Jewish schools are in the Greater London area or South Hertfordshire.
  • Enrolment in strictly Orthodox schools continues to increase dramatically over time, increasing by an estimated 166%, or over 12,000 children, since the mid-1990s.
  • The annual growth rate of the strictly Orthodox sector is estimated to be about 4.3%, compared to 3.1% in the mainstream sector.

The growth of the Jewish school sector is a reflection both of high fertility levels in the strictly Orthodox part of the Jewish community, and a growing interest in Jewish schooling within the more mainstream part of it. UK Jewish community leaders have focused considerable attention on Jewish schooling in recent years out of concerns about declining levels of Jewish knowledge and engagement. However, as these schools have developed, considerable attention has focused on general academic quality which has helped to attract higher numbers of pupils. In turn, as the choice of Jewish schooling has become more common, it has also grown in acceptability, pushing up numbers still further.