Crisis over Hebrew teacher shortage
JFS HAS blamed an “international crisis” in Ivrit teacher numbers for the continued shortage of qualified Hebrew-speaking staff at the school.
Janine Maurer, head of Modern Foreign Languages at Europe’s largest Jewish school, was asked at an event last week why JFS had failed to recruit enough Hebrew teachers to ensure all classes had a permanent teacher during the current academic year.
Ms Maurer insisted the shortage was affecting every Jewish school in the country, and said the problem represented an “international crisis”.
JFS parents are known to have expressed concern over the lack of qualified Ivrit teachers, with some Year 7, 8 and 9 classes going without a designated teacher since the beginning of the academic year last September. But it is not the only school affected. Partnership for Jewish Schools (PaJeS), which provides support and strategy for Jewish schools across the UK, said it recognised “there is a shortage of qualified Ivrit teachers in the UK”.
In an email sent to all JFS parents by the school last month, Ms Maurer addressed “the situation regarding Ivrit lessons” and admitted “we have not yet been successful in recruiting further, despite significant efforts to do so”.
In a statement on the crisis, JFS said: “We have indeed had difficulties recruiting suitably qualified Ivrit teachers.
“We were fully staffed at the beginning of the year. However, a member of staff left for personal reasons. This has left a gap in our timetable which has been filled on a rotation by existing JFS staff.
“We have recently appointed a new member of staff and are confident that this will provide stability for the remainder of the year.”
The London School of Jewish Studies offers a training scheme aiming to boost the number of teachers who can lead Hebrew lessons but a spokesman admitted applicants from Israel wishing to teach at Jewish schools in Britain were having problems passing the necessary English qualification.
A LSJS spokesman said: “The recruitment and retention of specialist Ivrit teachers are ongoing and long-standing issues.
“LSJS has responded by offering a training route to qualified teacher status for Ivrit teachers within our School Direct programme, which is run in partnership with PaJeS and a consortium of schools.
“The English-language entr y requirements for this programme, set by the Department for Education, can sometimes be a challenge for Israeli applicants.”
PaJeS said it had implemented a plan to target the crisis.
It is running teacher training courses across schools to deliver a newly devised Ivrit curriculum, while taking 11 teachers to Israel for an advanced programme.
On completing their training, these teachers will come back to Britain to work with both new and current Ivrit teachers.
PaJeS said it was also working with the World Zionist Organisation and the Zionist Federation in the Moram Shlichim programme to place qualified teachers from Israel into UK schools.