The Ministry of Defence has approved a Combined Cadet Force at JFS, the first at a Jewish school and the first all-Jewish cadet force since the 1950s.
News of the approval came just days after JFS students took part in the annual AJEX Remembrance Ceremony and Parade, honouring Jews who fought and died for Britain, including thousands in the First World War.
There are Combined Cadet Forces (CCFs) in more than 400 secondary schools across the UK, whereby cadet programming is incorporated directly into the curriculum.
JFS, which is the largest Jewish school in Europe, has been approved to launch an Army Section, but aspires to expand to include both Royal Air Force and Royal Navy Sections.
Students will be able to learn navigation, first aid, skill at arms, field craft, communications and drill, allowing them to develop their confidence and bearing as well as helping them learn how to work in teams.
“It’s hugely significant,” said AJEX chief executive Major Danny Yank. “It’s the first time in almost 70 years that our community can boast a Jewish cadet force. The current JFS head teacher should be extremely proud to have led this project and her efforts benefit her pupils hugely.”
JFS head teacher Rachel Fink, who told parents through the school newsletter on Friday, said: “We are delighted and excited to be able to establish a cadet force at JFS which will re-establish our historic and strong connection to HM Armed Forces.”
She added that the programme “aligns with our school values and mission to support personal development for our students and provide an opportunity for putting British values into practice”.
AJEX education and outreach officer Paula Kitching, who has led the ‘We Were There Too’ project about the Jewish contribution in the First World War, has spent months working with the school exploring the idea of service and ‘British values’.
Yank said: “It’s about trying to deliver a cradle-to-grave approach to Anglo-Jewish service. A concept we at AJEX are leading on, we want to help deliver a support system from Cadet, to Regular or Reserve, and then to veteran.”
He added: “Whatever their future holds, the young boys and girls at the JFS will have the chance to have a taste of life in uniform.”