Back to school for to­mor­row’s teach­ers

The Jewish Chronicle - - JC SPECIAL - BY SI­MON BARRY

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.”

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

Teach­ers in Jewish schools now have more op­tions to en­hance their skills

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