Back to school for tomorrow’s teachers
EACHING IN JEWISH primary and secondary schools w i l l r e c e i v e a major boost with the launch of two new schemes.
The first is an undergraduate degree in Jewish education, which will feature unprecedented collaboration between the six leading Jewish secondary schools to provide students with school-based training.
The schools are JFS, Yavneh College, Hasmonean, King Solomon and Immanuel College in the London/Herts area and King David in Manchester.
The aim is to produce 10 new Jewish studies teachers a year. From 2015, this will rise to 15 with the inclusion of modern Hebrew teachers.
The second will involve an as-yetundetermined number of primary schools working together to offer a similar study-and-work programme that will produce a dozen teachers of Jewish and general studies.
The initiatives have come from Partnerships for Jewish Schools (PaJeS), a division of the Jewish Leadership Council created to deal with issues identified by the JLC’s 2008 report: The Future of Jewish Schools. Alastair Falk, PaJeS executive director, says: “The quality of teaching in our schools is almost certainly at its highest level for a generation, if not more. Taken with the quality of the curriculum, one could say that we are in something of a golden age.
“The growth in demand for Jewish schools has exacerbated the shortage of high-quality teachers and that is why we have developed these two exciting new schemes. We have produced a swift response to the need.”
Mr Falk, who is leaving shortly for a new educational role in Birmingham, added: “The next big issue to be addressed by PaJeS is senior leaders and future head teachers. There’s going to be a shortage across the board in the next 10 to 15 years for faith schools generally.”
Training the next generation of head and senior teachers has attracted community-wide support, he says. “The thread that runs through all this is schools collaborating and working alongside each other. They want to work together and are doing so. They are thinking and acting jointly, which is creating a very interesting momentum.”
In the past, it was impossible to plan the growth of Jewish schools “but the response to schools’ needs is something that can be — and is being — planned”.
PaJeS and the London School of Jewish Studies (LSJS) are the key organisations for teacher-training schemes.
When the United Synagogue closed its Agency for Jewish Education, the Hendon-based LSJS took over and revamped its flagship programme, the Jewish Teacher Training Partnership.
Jason Marantz, chief executive at LSJS and former head of Wolfson Hillel primary school in Southgate, explains: “The raison d’être is to provide teachers for Jewish schools either as secular teachers or for Jewish studies. We also launched scholarships last year for people who want to qualify as specialists in Jewish studies.
“I agree with Alastair Falk that we are in a golden age where Jewish teachers want to gain qualifications. They want to get their teaching skills up to scratch.” To that end, LSJS has cre- ated two part-time degree courses, designed for prospective teachers to undertake while they are working.
One is a BA course to help Jewish studies teachers progress towards full teaching qualifications.
The second is an MA for those seeking to become experts in their subjects but who also want to start the process of training for senior positions and moving up to leadership.
Both courses have been designed by LSJS with help from Yeshiva University and the Institute of Education and have been validated by Middlesex University, which is working closely with LSJS.
“Jewish studies’ teachers will want to take this course if they hope to move up to being head of a department,” says Mr Morantz. “Teachers can teach during the day and study these courses in the evenings. “This could be gamechanging for Jewish teachers. We know there have been unqualified people in schools. Now there are courses for them to do.
“What is also very good is the way this has been received by both schools and teachers. The community is putting a lot of investment into teachers and we believe this is a great sustainable model that we expect to bring many more teachers who will have 21st-century skills.”
Teachers in Jewish schools now have more options to enhance their skills