Reports that a teacher joked about 'sending Jewish pupils to a gas chamber' have been condemned by two prominent community leaders.

Rabbi Paul Freedman from Radlett Reform Synagogue and Rabbi Jonathan Hughes from Radlett United Synagogue have both reacted to the alleged incident at Newberries Primary School last week.

The school acted quickly to sack an agency teacher after numerous parents complained she 'joked' she would 'ship pupils to the gas chambers' if they did not complete their homework.

Of the 28 pupils in the class, 11 were Jewish.

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Rabbi Freedman said: "Who is in the class here is not the issue. For a teacher to allegedly use the term 'gas chamber' to a class of primary school pupils, let alone Jewish pupils, is unfathomable. An inexcusable comment whether pupils are Jewish or not.

"It is such an unsuitable thing to say - staggering and outrageous. But we cannot forget this is a very Jewish area."

Rabbi Jonathan Hughes fears further education on the Holocaust is needed.

Rabbi Hughes said: "If reports are true, this is deeply disturbing and shows the urgent need for holocaust education in the UK.

"As the local rabbi, I'd be happy to counsel any pupils, parents, or staff members whom may have been hurt as a result of this incident."

County councillor for the area Cllr Caroline Clapper says "there should be no place for any form of racism or anti-Semitism".

She said: "This is obviously a very disappointing matter and I should make it clear that this incident occurred with an agency worker, not a teacher at Newberries school. I applaud the school school for dealing with this situation swiftly and decisively. I welcome the steps that the school are taking such as inviting faith leaders in.

"I’m obviously appalled that this could happen anywhere in this day and age. There should be no place for any form of racism or anti Semitism today. I would be shocked this happened in any area, regardless of whether or not it’s Radlett.

"I am sure lessons can be learnt from this and I am pleased that the county council are taking this matter very seriously."

The school acted swiftly to remove the teacher after an emergency meeting was called by the school of governors.

In a statement, the school said: "We acted upon this immediately and our governors and leadership team are undertaking a full investigation. We can confirm that the agency teacher will not be returning.

"We would like to reassure parents and carers that the safeguarding of children within Newberries Primary School remains our priority. This teacher was not a permanent member of staff.

"We will continue to work with all members of our school community to ensure that we provide a safe, supportive and respectful learning environment within which all children can thrive."