A North-South divide has opened up in Jewish education after this year’s primary school league tables revealed that the country’s two top performing Jewish institutions were in the north-west, writes Stephen Oryszczuk.
King David Jewish Primary in Manchester and North Cheshire Jewish Primary in Cheadle managed among the highest average scores in the UK for Key Stage Two (SATs) taken by 11-year olds.
In 2012, Moriah Jewish Day School in Pinner was the second best performing Jewish primary by average score, but this year the gold and silver medals went north, with both schools averaging 33.1 points.
The results system works by allocating more points for higher grades. An elite Level 6, for example, is worth 39 points, while a low Level 2 carries just 15.
In London, the progressive Finchley establishment Akiva soared above its regional competitors, with 97% of its 60 Year 6 pupils attaining Level 4 and over 70% attaining Level 5, leading to an average score of 32.7.
The results mean Akiva’s “high achieving” score was the best in north London and the third best among the capital’s 1,526 primaries.
“This is an exceptional set of results,” said headteacher Susy Stone. “They are a reflection of our unique school and a tribute to our dedicated staff.”
Independent Jewish Day School, with 24 pupils, managed an impressive average score of 31.9. Together with North Cheshire, it was one of only two Jewish primaries in the country to have every pupil attain a Level 4 grade.
“The secret is to focus on a child’s progress rather than on their attainment,” said Independent’s acting head Rabbi Cobi Ebrahimoff. “Every term we ask whether a child has made sufficient progress. This avoids panic stations at the end of Year 6.”
The Green Lane primary, which teaches Religious Studies in Hebrew, revealed that it had commissioned Susy Stone of Akiva to come in and report on how the Orthodox school could improve.
“If we learn from each other, the sky’s the limit,” Ebrahimoff said
All children aged 11 are expected to gain Level 4 in reading, writing and maths. Recent tweaks to key performance indicators mean schools must now ensure that at least six in ten pupils gain Level 4 in the three subjects or face being dragged on to the government blacklist.
Several London Jewish primaries achieved at least 90% Level 4 attainment, including Moriah, Hasmonean, Menorah Primary, Rosh Pinah, North West London Jewish and Clore Shalom.
Others came lower down the rankings, with one in five pupils not reaching Level 4 at Beis Yaakov, Mathilda Marks-Kennedy, Michael Sobell and Wolfson Hillel.
Meanwhile, at Avigdor Hirsch Torah Temimah and Pardes House, two thirds or less attained the required grade.
At least half a dozen Jewish primaries gave no information.