UK Politics

Government to pay for security guards at Jewish schools

The government is to pick up the cost of providing security guards at Jewish faith schools in England amid concerns about anti-semitic threats to pupils.

At the moment, parents of children at 39 state-funded Jewish schools in England pay £1.6m towards the cost of enhanced measures like security guards.

Ministers have decided to foot the bill to ensure children and staff "feel safe" and can concentrate on studying.

They say they will look at the case for similar help for other faith schools.

At the moment, all state schools get funding to provide basic security measures such as perimeter fences, gates and CCTV.

However, ministers have decided it is unreasonable for parents at Jewish schools to continue paying for extra measures, such as security personnel, given the particular threats the institutions face.

Security threat

"Faith schools make a fantastic contribution to our education system and none more so than Jewish faith schools," Education Secretary Michael Gove said.

"Children and staff at these schools should feel safe at school and able to learn in an environment free from any anti-semitic or racist threats."

The schools will receive £650,000 in funds straight away and up to £2m a year based on assessment of their needs. The funds will be administered by the Community Security Trust, which helps protect Jewish communities and synagogues and draw attention to anti-semitic violence.

Its research suggests there were about 920 anti-semitic incidents in 2009, the highest total since 1984, and 124 violent attacks - 41% up on the year before.

The Trust said not all schools, the bulk of which are located in London, would receive the same amount of funding and resources would be allocated "efficiently and according to need".

"The Trust is grateful to the secretary of state for recognising the importance of security provision at state-funded Jewish schools and for the time he and his department have spent assessing the problem and constructing a viable solution," its chief executive Richard Benson said.

The Department for Education said other faith schools - including Islamic schools - should make representations if they felt they were at particular risk and deserved similar support.

"We made approaches and none of the groups came back and said yes we do," a spokesman said.

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