The Government's free school initiative offered a possible window of opportunity to the Jewish Community to open a ‘faith school for our times’ a Jewish school for all Jews irrespective of their level of observance. To be designated as a faith school 50% of places need to be open to all members of the wider community.
The importance of respecting all members of the Jewish community and those of other faiths, beliefs and none, is central to the ethos and vision of Mosaic.
How did the journey begin?
Autumn 2010 - Larry Kingsley, from Kingston, arranged a meeting of people from across the Jewish community to consider whether this vision could become a reality.
“A dream doesn't become a reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” Colin Powell
Surveys were carried out,
Public meetings were held
A steering group was formed
A limited company was set up as a Trust
An application to open a maintained primary school - a free school - named South London Jewish School (later changed to Mosaic after an online competition) was prepared and submitted. Once this had been accepted, 5 key members attended a very structured, challenging interview at the Department for Education (DFE), after which we were successfully granted permission to open Mosaic Jewish Primary School.
We soon realised that to open in September 2013 there were mountains to climb! The late James Leek was a community supporter par excellence. He drove me around many times to look at possible sites. Our project managers from the Education Funding Agency still recall with joy when it was finally confirmed that the DfE would purchase Hartfield House in Roehampton Lane from Wandsworth.
Whilst we awaited the completion of our permanent site at Hartfield House in Roehampton, Mosaic opened its doors to our first cohort of children in September 2013 at our temporary site, Wimbledon Synagogue, until we moved to Roehampton in September 2015.
Who travelled with us?
The setting up and establishment of Mosaic has always been a community initiative. The target audience was parents /carers of young children. However, to make a new school happen there needed to be volunteers with many skills and knowledge. They needed to be driven by a strong belief that Mosaic could have a distinctive identity which would bring together children across south London and from many parts of the world. There are too many people to recall here but let’s look at some of those pioneering families and supporters from the pre-opening stages.
Our Founding Families
The early steering group included some of our first parents whose children moved to secondary school in 2020. They came from the Jewish community, from other faiths, and from the wider community. Some have stayed with Mosaic as the school established its path; others had to move away for work or chose to travel afar. So many of those Mosaic pioneers are still supporting the school and contributing in many ways. Yana Bruwer, the Dares, Juan Solari and family, the Kanes, the Kupfers, the Ryvchins. ‘Apples and Honey’ Wimbledon’s Outstanding Jewish nursery became involved at a very early stage and provided a role model of inclusivity. The director of Apples and Honey, Judith Ish-Horowicz, continues to contribute to developing the integrated Jewish Learning approach. Representing the more experienced generations with a range of professional and business skills, David Kelin, Judy Thwaites and myself, Shirley Lee. Mosaic could only be born as a team effort with each person using their networks and expertise to help build a school with a mission to inspire children, respect others and produce excellence. Wonderful donors from the wider communities and family trusts have supported the school along the way. Solicitors, educationalists, people in business and finance, brand consultants, accountants, politicians, local councillors, university staff, headteachers, Jewish organisations, DfE leaders, clergy from all faiths and so many others including our inspired architect Richard Parsons.
Mosaic’s first headteacher, Kate Baum (2013-16) shared the vision with the governors, and a very small staff, including Carina Fernandes, Katie Barton and Agnieszka Nova. Nerrissa Bear began the journey in 2013 through to 2022 when she left the role of Headteacher. Our new Headteacher, Ms Jo Gordan, joined the school in September 2022.
There have been many ups and downs. We have progressed, had setbacks, dealt with endless challenges, and experienced joy and sorrow. We consulted on and continue to discuss everything from detailed building design, whether to have a meat or milk kitchen, the name for our school, the logo, furniture colours and designs, education philosophy, ethos and vision, safeguarding, policies, procedures, security, special needs, curriculum, assessment and progress, staffing structure, preparation for Ofsted and Pikuach. The advice came too from the local rabbis and other faith leaders and *JCDSAB, who advise cross-community Jewish Day schools, PaJes – Partnership for Jewish and, although free schools are not under Local Authority (LA) control, we have always been able to seek support and guidance from Wandsworth.
We laughed together a lot and believe me in times of sorrow, we have cried together too. We are still on a journey and feel privileged that all of you are travelling with us.
In recent years new people with strengths and professional expertise have joined the staff and Governing Board. Each member prepares for meetings and asks probing and sometimes challenging questions to ensure we are always, not only innovative but rigorous and constantly evaluative. Mosaic has a great teaching and support team who shares our aspirations for all the children at MJPS. They are creative, professional and committed.
We have always been a team. We want every child at MJPS to seize the opportunities we offer so they gain confidence and belief that anything is possible. We are already a community school, and although we are still a small and growing school, Mosaic offers the children many special opportunities. Some of the numerous examples can be seen on this website so do look through past news and regularly look at the website for our future plans.
Founding Chair of Governors