Partnerships for Jewish Schools (PaJeS) is new services organisation for Jewish schools across the UK. As well as offering curriculum advice, investing in teacher training, and looking at broader strategic issues, we are keen to connect Jewish teachers with Jewish schools so they can see for themselves what it might be like to work in these high achieving, yet warm and caring environments. Continue reading
The past twenty years has seen a rapid expansion of Jewish schooling across the UK. If you follow the Jewish media, you could be forgiven for thinking that each passing week brings with it a new building, or group of parents setting up a free school, or fundraising campaign for one of the existing institutions.
Wednesday 20 February 2013
Dear Jewish Teacher,
I hope you’re enjoying your half term break!
As you know, JTA has been working hard to build the profile of Jewish teachers within the teaching unions, particularly NUT. This work has been reported in theJC and the JPost. Samidha Garg, from the Education and Equalities Department has written to Jewish teachers to say that she supports and encourages the work we are doing which you can read here. Continue reading
I have three hats: a parent, working in a School of Education and I am a doctor.
I entered the field of education and in particular special needs, coming from a background in medicine as a GP, as my second child was diagnosed with Dyspraxia (DCD) at 3 years of age and needed to find out more about the condition and how best to support him.
16 years ago I set up The Dyscovery Centre to provide guidance and research and understand more about this condition as well as other specific learning difficulties and gradually this developed into a research and clinical centre, which is now part of the University of Wales, Newport.
Please have a read of this Letter from Samidha Garg, the head of Equalities and Education at NUT, who has written to Jewish Teachers. Please do leave your comments and let us know whether you’d like to get involved with any of this work by emailing us on email@example.com
Many thanks, Flora
Happy 2013 to all JTA members!
Holocaust Memorial Day Reception
Tuesday 29 January 2013, 5-7pm
Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD
We hope you’ve had a restful break and are looking forward to the new term.
There’s lots going on to build and develop the JTA at the moment.
One of our main projects is our work to make the National Union of Teachers a more inclusive and supportive union for Jewish Teachers. The JC have reported this work here.
Anne Krisman represents JTA at the RE Council for England and Wales meetings.
Working with children with special needs is fulfilling and links with the important Jewish job of repairing the world. Many of our pupils have suffered challenges and difficulties in life, yet remain optimistic and uplifting. To teach them is a privilege.
I came into RE teaching by surprise. In fact, I’d never been to an RE lesson in my secondary school, as Jewish children went off to the library during the time. While I never had a conventional RE background, I was always drawn to interfaith work and learning about others’ beliefs. When my rabbi saw me at an interfaith event dancing bhangra Punjabi-style with Sikh children, he said, “If you weren’t such a good Jew, you’d be a good Sikh” which I took as a major compliment.
So have I ever come across antisemitism in my work as a teacher? This short blog post looks at two contrasting examples.
My first school (in my NQT Newly Qualified Teacher year) was an easy school in Orpington. For those who have never ventured to that town where the M25 intersects the A21 in Kent, where Mrs Thatcher failed to win the Tory nomination, and where the Daily Mail outsells all other papers put together, it is a nice place to teach. What some pupils may lack in ability, they make up for in effort. It is an area full of aspirational parents with a solid approach to homework and discipline, so the teachers’ jobs are generally pretty easy.
Do you ever feel that you have to be the educator on the issue of the Arab-Israeli Conflict but feel reluctant to do so, either because you feel you do not have adequate in-depth knowledge, or because you do not want to offend those who may have already have definite views? We at MEEDU try to address this problem by giving information on the views and attitudes of both sides. Most schools try to get a balanced view by inviting, separately, speakers from both sides, speakers who give their own conflicting views of historical and current events. Our approach is totally different and is unique.
Dear JTA member,
Tomorrow, Wednesday 28th November, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) will be holding their annual lobby of Parliament. According to their website and the NUT’s Facebook site, the NUT is officially supporting the lobby day.
Naturally members of JTA, the Jewish community and the wider public, including members of the NUT, hold a variety of different views on the situation facing Israelis and Palestinians. I personally favour the position of organisations like the New Israel Fund and Yachad, the Pro Israel, Pro Peace organisation. – both of which, in my view, take a nuanced approach to the conflict, acknowledging its complexity. It seems to me that there is an appropriate way of expressing those views and, often, it appears that the PSC regularly strays outside the realms of appropriate debate. Examples include the posting of racist cartoons by local branches, Holocaust denial by local branch chairs and a member of the Scottish PSC being found guilty of racially aggravated assault on a Jewish student who was displaying an Israeli flag.
In this context, and in the interests of inclusion and educated debate, surely it is not appropriate for the NUT to be openly supporting the PSC in its lobby of Parliament, without fully and publically recognising the complexity of the situation?
If you agree, I urge you to write to Secretary General Christine Blower C.Blower@nut.org.uk and Equality Officer Samidha Garg S.Garg@nut.org.uk to express your concerns. I will be writing to explain that as a Jewish member of the NUT, this sort of blanket support for one group only leaves me feeling disappointed and isolated from many members of my union. If you were a member of NUT but you left because of your feelings about NUT’s policies on the conflict it would be very helpful if you could say this too. If you are not a member of NUT but you want to make your concerns know, please also write. Every personal email you write will raise awareness to NUT of our concerns.
It would be really helpful if you could copy in the firstname.lastname@example.org and send us copies of any replies you get.
For more information, please see this document Summary of PSC extremism November 2012 which lists some examples of PSC extremism over the last two years.
Mrs Flora R H Richards
Racism can never be justified. That’s why when AQA (a leading UK exam board) published an exam question last week on a GCSE Judaism paper which asked students to ‘Explain briefly why some people are prejudiced against Jews’ it provoked such outcry from the Board of Deputies of British Jews among other community organisations. As a Religious Studies teacher, teaching the AQA GCSE, I think that a discussion around stereotyping and scapegoating is important and legitimate. However, I can’t help thinking that for some students, when asked to ‘Explain why some people are prejudiced against Jews’ or indeed any other minority, a student might just list all the worst sorts of objectionable things about the group specified; without making reference to flawed upbringing or ignorance as an explanation for the racist views – and there’s no doubt that this is what AQA had in mind when they wrote the exam. My real worry is that these kinds of badly written exam questions can limit and lead to ‘bad RE’ teaching. The best Religious Studies teaching is done by teachers who attempt to convey religions and their context in society in an engaging an authentic way. In the case of Jewish Studies, I think that the context of racism and Anti Semitism has to be taught sensitively, as one part of Jewish history, but not to the exclusion of teaching about all other aspects of Jewish identity, belief and practice. Ultimately GCSE examinations are a ‘rubber stamp’ to acknowledge years of learning, and it’s a missed opportunity when poorly worded examination questions fail to showcase the breadth of students’ learning.
Flora R H Richards is in her fifth year of teaching Religious Studies at various London schools. She trained to teach at King’s College London and has a Religious Studies degree from Lancaster University. She is chair of the Jewish Teachers Association. Email her on email@example.com
Find JTA on Facebook under ‘UK Jewish Teachers’
Follow JTA on twitter @jewishteacher
We hope you’re having a fabulous summer term so far! There’s lots of work going on behind the scenes at JTA HQ.
We have been:
- representing the views of Jewish Teachers and Education professionals at the RE Council
- we’re working with Muslim and Christian teachers through the Three Faiths Forum
- and we’re doing some education and equality work with the teaching unions.
If you’d like to get involved in any of this work, at any level please email Flora on firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ve been asked to share this resource to help find a Jewish school for children in the UK. Hope it is useful to some parents.