The Board of Deputies is launching revised guidelines for schools’ Jewish Studies inspections, with “major differences” from the current practice to tackle “complete disinterest” in the subject.
The new Pikuach Inspection Handbook, which replaces one drawn up four years ago, takes “a far closer look at the Jewish Studies curriculum” using a new Ofsted model that focuses on intent, implementation and impact. It also gives schools five days’ notice of inspections, as opposed to 24 hours at present.
“The most fundamental change, and the reason this has taken three years to develop, is the major focus on Jewish pupils’ spiritual development,” said the Board’s Jeffrey Leader.
“In the 2016 edition we spend seven lines describing Jewish spirituality, whereas in the new edition we spend 15 pages on the subject. The reason being, we see many children showing a complete disinterest in Jewish Studies.
“To many it is meaningless and has no relevance to their lives, yet most Jewish schools boast of their ‘outstanding’ spiritual development. We had to develop a process to properly assess how effective schools are in achieving their claims.”
The new handbook also includes an online questionnaire for pupils to feedback confidentially “what impact their Jewish learning has made on their lives”, with Leader saying the subject should inspirational, not functional.
“The bottom line is not how much Judaism children know but how much it has affected their lives,” he said. “This will mark a sea-change in the way we approach Jewish education in schools.”