LEEDS Jewish Free School has been awarded a ‘good’ rating by Pikuach, the Jewish education watchdog, after its December 2017 inspection.
First built in 2013 with only eight pupils, LJFS now educates 108 pupils, both Jewish and non-Jewish, in its state-of-the-art building and its first-class facilities.
Sagi Yechezkel, as newly-appointed head of Jewish studies on the Henry Cohen Campus, and Susy Jagger, executive headteacher, led the discussions with Pikuach lead inspector Janine Kasmir.
Five lessons were observed and the focus was on evaluating the effectiveness of teaching and learning in Jewish studies.
The main findings of the report were that students were well behaved, and felt both happy and safe.
The students’ feelings about the school were best summarised by the following comment: “I really enjoy school and my lessons, and feel like we are one happy family, where everyone wants the best for us.”
The quality of leadership and management at the school was rated ‘good’.
The Senior Leadership Team, in conjunction with the governors, share a vision to make Jewish education and life at the school good for all students.
For example, it strives for students, whatever their faith, to constantly demonstrate the school’s values of tzedek — integrity and respect for one another and different beliefs; chessed — kindness, especially to the sensitive and vulnerable; mishpat — deep respect towards the rules and laws of the school and society; and rachamim — compassion and forgiveness.
The report continued to say that Jewish education has a high profile in the school and permeates everyone’s understanding of what being a student at LJFS means, regardless of faith.
Students are provided with tools and skills to engage with Jewish spiritual experiences in school, such as tefilla (prayer), festival celebrations and Kabbalat Shabbat.
Teachers and parents commented on the way in which students felt confident in the subjects they are engaged with as a result of their learning; for example, barmitzvah and batmitzvah classes and exploring davening.
One parent commented: “I am thrilled that my son learned in the barmitzvah programme how to take parts of the daily service, now that he has had his barmitzvah.”
Pikuach invited all the registered parents and carers of students at LJFS to complete a questionnaire about their views of the school.
Parents’ views about the Jewish education provision were positive, with 90 per cent of parents agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement, “My child is happy at this school”; and 91 per cent agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement, “The school encourages high standards in Jewish studies”.
Ninety-eight per cent of parents strongly agreed or agreed with the statement that “the life of the school gives my child a good understanding of Jewish values”.
One parent said: “My son has a very strong sense of Jewish identity; I feel LJFS is helping to strengthen his beliefs.
“The higher level Jewish studies lessons he has are pushing him while still maintaining the enjoyment. We are extremely happy to have made the decision to send him to LJFS.”