JFS headteacher: ‘School is very different place to that of the past’

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JFS headteacher: ‘School is very different place to that of the past’

Rachel Fink responds to hundreds of ex-students urging the school to support a 'decolonised curriculum', and accusing it of offering 'a predominantly white education'

Jack Mendel is the Online Editor at the Jewish News.

Rachel Fink
Rachel Fink

The headteacher of JFS has insisted the school “is a very different place to that of the past”, after an open letter from alumni accused it of providing “a predominantly white education”.

Rachel Fink defended Europe’s largest Jewish secondary school, after more than 600 former students and parents urged it to support a “decolonised national British curriculum”.

They also urged the school to “provide an honest portrayal of Britain’s Empire and involvement in slave trade”.

This comes amid a wave of protests around the world against racism triggered by the death of George Floyd, as well as the removal of salve-owner statues in the UK.

Rachel Fink, told Jewish News: “Over recent years we have redoubled our efforts to ensure that our curriculum covers may areas that may have been missing from the education received by the signatories of the open letter.”

JFS of 2020 is a very different place to that of the past and our focus on aspects of Black history, the civil rights movement and advancement of black rights is a core part of our renewed focus on interfaith dialogue and promoting positive engagement.”

Outside the classroom, Fink said pupils “have the opportunity to engage with students and guests from other communities”, and “we explore issues of faith, identity and sexuality”, alongside race, and communal debates.

Saying “there is always room for further development”, she added the school welcomes “the activism of our Alumni”.

The open letter was launched by Ella Davies Oliveck and Jacob Middleburgh, who graduated in 2015, and Esther Craven, in 2013.

They said: “JFS is a great school in many ways but we feel as though it fell short in providing us with a well-rounded understanding of historical events that are a fundamental part of Britain’s past.”

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