Our Story

Giving children the success they deserve

“To uproot our family or not to uproot our family?”

That was the question Rabbi Sugarman and his wife Sarah faced after being told their son, then 15 months, had global development delay. Four years later, he was also diagnosed with Kleefstra syndrome, a rare genetic disorder.

There was no culturally appropriate academic environment in Gateshead. The Sugarmans couldn’t bring themselves to send their child into an environment that didn’t support their religious values. 

Would he be stuck home for the future? 
Would he develop socially and academically? 
Would he ever taste success? 

The questions loomed. Their only solution was to open their own school. 

Thanks to the Sugarmans’ grit and dedication, since 2013, the above scenario has completely reversed. 

The question is now posed to Rabbi Sugarman from desperate parents in other cities.  ‘Should we uproot our family to Gateshead?’

Humble Gateshead, with its rows of narrow, attached houses, boasts this rare beautiful gem of a building, with state-of-art facilities, gorgeous outdoor grounds, and a programme that’s been dubbed one of the country’s most effective Jewish schools of its kind.

That’s hardly surprising, given Rabbi Sugarman’s oft-repeated motto.
“We opened the school for our son. And we treat every child as if they’re ours.”

“That little Gateshead has this beautiful school is incredible. It’s a one-stop shop for any child with any special needs. Rabbi Sugarman is the most original thinker you can ever imagine, with the most amazing, humble spirit — and he’s built the most innovative special school model.”

Mrs C. Spitz OBE

The Interlink Foundation, London.

Helping children excel


Our vision is to provide a supportive school environment where children with Special Educational Needs can thrive both academically and socially to maximise their potential and thereby increase further employment and independence later in life.


Haskel School provides a high quality and therapeutic learning environment that reflects the Orthodox Jewish ethos of the school. We aim to meet the individual needs of each pupil to help them achieve their potential in academic, social and life skills and are committed to develop each pupil’s physical health and emotional wellbeing and resilience.

Timeline: Between the lines

  • 1972

    Rabbi Ezriel Solomon, a trailblazer in special education, founded Haskel, a small support system for children with special needs.

  • 2005

    The same year Rabbi Sugarman starts working with local mainstream pupils who need extra support, their son is born. Realisation about the serious gap in Gateshead’s education system dawns.
  • 2009

    Rabbi Sugarman wins a big case with the council for two Gateshead children with special needs, granting them a Jewish special education in London, instead of the local non-Jewish option. This was achieved on the grounds that in a non-culturally suitable environment, their educational needs wouldn’t be met.

  • 2011

    Rabbi Sugarman needs a local Jewish school for his son. With an iron will and a tenacious resolve, he bridges the gap, building on the foundations of the existing Haskel. Under the guidance of Mrs R Ehrentreu a''h, Haskel begins as a small Educational Support Unit supporting pupils in local mainstream schools. Eventually, due to demand, it grew into a special school. Its newfound acronym? Helping And Supporting Kids to Excel in Life.

  • 2013

    Haskel has a successful Ofsted pre-registration inspection and launches as an Independent Special School.

  • 2014

    Initial Ofsted inspection judges Haskel to be ‘Outstanding’ in all areas.

  • 2015

    Haskel moves into its current premises at 53 Bewick Road. Originally a Victorian-era Vicarage, the building is renovated to an exceptionally high standard.

  • 2021

    Rabbi Sugarman is awarded an MBE for Services to Education and Children with Special Educational Needs. The news clip garners over one million views.

The values at the heart of Haskel

Believers in our pupils

We have high expectations for all our pupils, regardless of their disability, and we will push those boundaries to help them be the very best they possibly can.

Warm and nurturing

We create a happy, secure and stimulating environment in which all pupils are valued and respected so they feel welcome by staff and the general society.

Torah-based framework

Our robust curriculum combines general learning with the development of moral and spiritual Torah values because every Jewish child deserves a Jewish education.

Maximising a child’s future

We recognise you only get one chance to develop a child’s potential. Haskel is that chance and we don’t let funding decide how we seize it.