As I move on from Partnerships for Jewish Schools (PaJeS) it seems an appropriate moment for reflection and to say a personal thank you to the JLC. At a time when other communal organisations were divesting themselves of their obligations to schools, the JLC invested in mapping the strategic picture of Jewish schooling. PaJeS grew out of this as a natural progression from the initial review and the subsequent implementation group that helped ensure, in true JLC fashion, that this was not simply a paper exercise. It is, however, still a work in progress and there will be much for my successor to do, not least because Jewish schools sit within the wider contexts of Jewish demographics and, arguably, more important, public policy.
The DfE’s Independent School Standards draft consultation remains ‘live’ until early August 2014, but for those who have yet to read and comment on it (and I think you should do your bit for democracy (see below), here is some helpful guidance.
The government set out its definition of British values in the 2011 Prevent Strategy - values of:
and this definition has been used in the Independent School Standards since January 2013.
This definition remains the same in the new standards, notwithstanding that the definition in the British Citizenship Test is slightly different, (so, we ask, which one is ‘correct’?).
It is expected these strengthened regulations will take effect in September 2014, and will sit alongside the requirements of the Equalities Act, which also apply to all types of school (see below).
Schools will be expected to focus on, and be able to show how their work with pupils is effective in, embedding fundamental British values. Actively promoting also means challenging pupils, staff or parents expressing opinions contrary to fundamental British values.
Action will also be taken against schools where, for example, girls are disadvantaged on the grounds of their gender - or where prejudice against those of other faiths is encouraged or not adequately challenged.