The search for the Jewish community’s best teachers is set to commence, after the 2018 Jewish School Awards categories revealing a new focus on mental health and secular studies.

In the third annual awards ceremony early next year, which sees the community’s most inspiring primary and secondary school teachers heralded, judges will be looking for excellence and impact both in the school and in the community.

A joint initiative between Jewish News and Partnerships for Jewish Schools (PaJeS), the Jewish School Awards will be seeking the best teachers of Jewish Studies as well as Mental Health and Wellbeing Champions.

Judges will also be identifying non-teaching staff making the biggest contribution and those excelling in secular studies at both primary and secondary levels.

The Awards’ new focus follows increased awareness of the huge under-reporting of mental health problems experienced by school children, and schools’ renewed focus on identifying problems and providing support in this area.

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“The new categories of awards will let us recognise as much good practice in our schools as possible,” said PaJeS executive director Rabbi David Meyer. “We look forward to once again highlighting the successes and achievements of our community’s schools.”

Meyer said the awards were “an opportunity to recognise the exceptional efforts of the teachers and staff in our schools” because “it is thanks to their dedication that our schools are effectively educating the next generation of our community”

The huge communal event, sponsored by the Emmes Foundation, picks the cream of the crop from 120 Jewish schools around the country, with previous years awarding teachers in the field of information and communications technology, and for inspirational leadership.

Judges this year include author and teaching consultant John West-Burnahm, Maurice Wohl Charitable Foundation chief executive Kate Goldberg, consultant paediatrician Dr Michael Markiewicz, businessman and vice-chair of the Portland Trust Sir Harry Solomon, and Jewish News’ features editor Francine Wolfisz.

Teachers, students and parents will soon be able to submit nominations before the panel selects eight winners, as well as deciding the recipient of a lifetime achievement award – from the finalists.

A statement from Emmes Foundation said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring this exciting initiative for Jewish schools, which recognises the hard work and sacrifice of our teachers.”

Closing date for nominations:  October 20