It was almost clean sweep for women, with the very best teachers in Jewish education recognised last night at the annual Jewish Schools Awards.
Four categories of awards at both primary and secondary school level, plus a Lifetime Achievement Award, were presented during a ceremony attended by around 250 guests.
The evening was hosted at JW3 in Finchley Road by the Jewish News and Partnerships for Jewish Schools (PaJeS), with Jewish Leadership Council Chief Executive Simon Johnson overseeing proceedings.
The first category was for best emerging teacher in their first three years of teaching. Miriam Saffer of The Independent Jewish Day School won the primary school award and Joanna Moses of JCoSS received the secondary school award.
The second category was for best modern Hebrew teacher. Pnina Ravid of Akiva School won the primary school award and Sivan Simons of JFS picked up the secondary school award.
Benjamin Perl MBE was then presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award. A highly significant figure credited with the establishment of over 20 Jewish schools, including Yavneh College, Mr. Perl was praised for his role in helping thousands of Jewish children into full-time Jewish education.
The best special needs educator in a primary school was won by Madeleine Bendell of North West London Jewish Daily School. The secondary school award was won by Simon Bull of Hasmonean High School for Boys.
The final category was for best assistant or deputy head teacher. The primary school award was won by Alex Kingston of Wolfson Hillel Jewish Primary School and the second school award was picked up by Elaine Robinson of JCoSS.
Each finalist received £1,000 in prize money and each winner received £5000 to spend on a chosen project in their school, thanks to sponsorship from the Emmes Foundation and The Charles Wolfson Charitable Trust.
The judging panel of five included Alastair Falk, Head of Education and Community Outreach at the Careers and Enterprise Company, Karen Harris, Managing Director of intu.co.uk, Richard Ferrer, editor of the Jewish News, Sue Williamson, Director and Chief Executive of the Schools Students and Teachers Network (SSAT), and Lord Winston, Professor of Science and Society at Imperial College London.
With a record of over 350 nominations, the judges praised the high calibre of candidates across the board.
The keynote address was delivered by Dame Helen Hyde DBE, former head teacher of Watford Grammar School for Girls.
She spoke movingly about the challenges teachers face and the importance of acting as positive role models for all pupils.
Reflecting on the evening, Rabbi David Meyer, Executive Director of PaJes, said: “Tonight has been a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the best in our schools. I think one of the strongest messages that has come across is the collaborative attitude of the teachers. Everybody rejoiced in other people winning awards and the winners wanted to recognise the achievements of their colleagues as well.”
The audience were also treated to musical performance by Yavneh College Year 12 students, Emily Press and Rebecca Adda.
Jewish News Editor, Richard Ferrer, added: “Once again we were proud to partner with PaJeS to deliver this special night for the community. These awards show what exciting times theses are for Jewish education.”
The growth of Jewish schools was noted throughout the evening. Currently 35,000 pupils, the equivalent of 65 percent of all Jewish children in the UK attend Jewish Day Schools.
Photo credit: Joel Seshold