The focus of this blog may not quite be what you think. Sadly there has been no change here to government thinking on the approved list of primary school languages but meanwhile across the pond the Hebrew Charter School Center is offering Ivrit within the Government sponsored public school system through their growing network of schools. When Harlem Hebrew Charter opens later this year it will be the fifth school to join the HCSC with several more in the pipeline for the next twelve months.
Joe Nathan of the University of Minnesota, author of Charter Schools: Creating Hope and Opportunity for American Education argues that with such schools everyone is a winner. Children get challenged at a younger age to learn more and the schools help develop a better integrated society as they are far from exclusively Jewish. These schools are expected to bring innovation and higher standards to the public sector and will be models for future development for all public schools.
Good morning, and thank you for inviting me. I’d like also to take this opportunity to say thank you for all your dedication and incredible hard work in leading the excellent Jewish schools with which our community is blessed. As you have just heard, I am Jonathan Goldstein and I have the pleasure of chairing Partnerships for Jewish Schools, or PaJeS, a new organisation offering services, support and strategy for Jewish schools across the UK. Just a brief word about myself, so that you can see my personal connections and commitment: I was until recently the Chair of Governors at Kerem School and my daughter is currently a pupil at Immanuel College while my son is in Israel this year on his gap year. I am a graduate of Ilford Jewish Primary School and in my professional life, having trained as a lawyer, I now work alongside Gerald Ronson, whom many of you will know as a strong supporter of Jewish schools across the world.
Many of you will already know about PaJeS’ work and know that we grew out of the Commission on the Future of Jewish Schools set up by the Jewish Leadership Council. In the initial report, interestingly, it was felt that there were already enough agencies dealing with Jewish schools and there may not be need for another. Since then we have had the phenomenon of an ever increasing number of school places while the synagogue organisations and organisations like UJIA have refocused their work away from schools. So it seemed to make sense to create something new to respond to changing needs and changed environments, particularly with the emergence of free schools and academies and the impact this has had on local authority support services. Let’s be clear: we are not setting out to do everything for everybody. We operate on a fairly small budget and are committed to being driven by the current - and future - needs of schools. We are absolutely clear that we do not want to duplicate the work being done by others, especially the Board of Deputies and school membership organisations.