Breaking new ground: Gesher co-founders Sarah Sultman and Ali Durban with Sinai chairman Lee Glassar and headteacher Robert Leach
By Simon Rocker
A new Jewish school is set to transform provision for children with special educational needs in north-west London.
The Gesher primary school will open in September 2017 on the campus of the Michael Sobell Sinai School in Kenton, specialising in support for children who are on the autism spectrum.
The school-within-a-school model is the first of its type within British Jewry and will eventually cater for a maximum of 56 children.
Gesher’s pupils will benefit from tailor-made tuition at the same time as being able to enjoy Sinai’s facilities and take part in activities with Sinai children.
Co-founders Ali Durban and Sarah Sultman said that “we will work together to give children the access to a wider learning landscape, while providing a unique educational environment for these children to flourish.”
Around one in 100 UK children is on the autism spectrum
For 30 years or so, educational policy has been to try to integrate children with special needs in mainstream schools rather than separate special schools.
But Mrs Sultman explained “research has shown it hasn’t always worked. The gold standard is to have a school within a school, a safe space to accommodate the children’s needs with an individual learning plan while they have access to mainstream children through the host site.”