Akiva opened in 1981 as a one-form independent (fee-paying) school in a three-storey former convent school building on the Manor House site in Finchley, North West London. The Sternberg Centre is the largest Jewish communal site in Western Europe and houses, in addition to the school, the Leo Baeck College (which trains progressive rabbis and teachers), the New North London (Masorti) Synagogue and the headquarters of the Movement for Reform Judaism. There is also a Jewish bookshop on site and a café.
The school was the first Jewish primary school in the country to be established by the progressive Jewish community, providing particularly for members of Reform, Liberal and Masorti communities. In 2006 it was designated as a two-form entry school in preparation for the move to the state sector in the London Borough of Barnet. With funding from the then Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF, now DFE) a new building was constructed on the Manor House site into which the school finally moved at the beginning of January 2008.
The school today has 420 pupils with 2 forms in each year. Susy Stone was appointed Head of the school in September 2008. The school is high achieving and oversubscribed. Although it is a Jewish school, it also reflects diversity, with a significant number of children coming from overseas (primarily Israel and South Africa).
In January 2018 Akiva had its latest inspection by OFSTED and in June 2018 by Pikuach (the Jewish inspection body). OFSTED identified Akiva as a good school and Pikuach found the Jewish provision to be outstanding in all areas.