The Jewish Chronicle

Head start to a life­long love of teach­ing

- BY JESSICA WE­IN­STEIN London · Europe · European Union · Israel · University of Manchester · Manchester · London Borough of Harrow · Harrow School · Kenton · Yavne · Henrietta Barnett · London Borough of Hillingdon

MOST PEO­PLE are happy to leave their school days be­hind them, or nos­tal­gi­cally rem­i­nisce about cer­tain friends or teach­ers. Not so Juli­ette Lip­shaw, who loved her time at school so much it in­spired the course of the rest of her life. And now she is back where it all be­gan, hop­ing to nur­ture and in­spire the next gen­er­a­tion.

Lip­shaw, 44, is the new head teacher at Si­nai Jewish Pri­mary School in Ken­ton, north west Lon­don, Europe’s largest Jewish pri­mary, with 670 pupils. “I al­ways wanted to be a teacher,” she says, re­call­ing lin­ing up her ted­dies each night to tell them off and help­ing her fa­ther, a maths teacher, mark his pupils’ home­work with a red pen.

Lip­shaw joined the Lip­shaw with Si­nai pupils — “ev­ery child has the right to the best ed­u­ca­tion” — and (be­low left) as a Si­nai pupil her­self

school, age seven, in 1981 when two schools, Solomon Wolf­son and Yavneh, merged to be­come Si­nai. Her fa­ther was a founder gov­er­nor; she her­self was on the board of gov­er­nors be­fore join­ing the staff and her sons, now 12 and 14, at­tended as pupils.

“Ob­vi­ously we’ve mod­ernised [since then] but what has stayed the same is the love and the nu­ture and the pride of the school; the love of Ju­daism and

the love of Is­rael and ex­cel­lence,” she says. None­the­less some things have al­tered, ne­ces­si­tated by the chang­ing world out­side school.

“We’ve de­vel­oped a cul­ture of vig­i­lance, both for safe­guard­ing and se­cu­rity,” says Lip­shaw. Her own par­ents would park on the street and let her walk into school her­self. Now there is a gated en­trance sys­tem and other se­cu­rity mea­sures. How­ever, this is not

unique to Jewish schools, she says, not­ing “height­ened se­cu­rity” in sec­u­lar schools where she has taught.

Si­nai is the first Jewish school where Lip­shaw has worked — or even been into since she left Si­nai at 11 for Hen­ri­etta Bar­nett. She ob­tained her de­gree at Manch­ester Univer­sity and spent 18 years teach­ing in an in­fants’ school in Hilling­don and then in two pri­maries in Har­row, be­fore mov­ing to Si­nai in 2014 as deputy head. Last year she took over as in­terim head and her post was made of­fi­cial this month.

She is “in­cred­i­bly proud of the school and the work we’ve done”. The “we” refers to Si­nai’s teach­ing staff. “They’re re­ally driven, al­ways ex­cited and buzzing.” She at­tributes this in part to the fact she “iden­ti­fies lead­ers early on in their ca­reers” and helps them de­velop their skills.

Other changes she has made in­clude rein­tro­duc­ing French, in­creas­ing the amount and va­ri­ety of sport (“it’s so im­por­tant that chil­dren have ac­tive lives”) and in­tro­duc­ing a break­fast club and af­ter-school club, to help work­ing par­ents. A sen­sory room, a mu­sic room and a spe­cial ed­u­ca­tional needs room have been added and Si­nai has be­come a “maths mas­tery” school.

“I’m all about aca­demic ex­cel­lence. I be­lieve ev­ery child has the right to the best ed­u­ca­tion,” she says. “Be­hav­iour ex­pec­ta­tions are re­ally high” and her pupils know she is “a stick­ler” for this.

The big­gest chal­lenge for Si­nai — and any Jewish school, says Lip­shaw — is to de­liver high-qual­ity Jewish ed­u­ca­tion along­side high-qual­ity sec­u­lar ed­u­ca­tion. Only 25 per cent of the cur­ricu­lum is ded­i­cated to Jewish stud­ies but Lip­shaw says: “I want the kids to have the best of every­thing”.

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