PaJeS Executive Director Alastair Falk writes about the work of our PaJeS division in developing communal strategy around Jewish schooling.
One of the more striking aspects of the growth in Jewish schooling is that it has essentially been a peoples’ revolution. Parents have made the shift toward Jewish schooling in dramatic numbers and not simply as consumers. They are also founders and creators, and have responded enthusiastically to the government’s Free Schools policy to create four new Jewish primaries and one new secondary.
The flip side of all this growth is the absence of a communal strategy. This is not just about demographics. The increase in number of schools has implications for teacher recruitment and training, curriculum development and support and training for school Governors. And while we have the great advantage of ongoing government revenue, many schools are still facing capital deficits.
One year on, as a division of the JLC, Partnerships for Jewish Schools (PaJeS) is helping shape the strategic response. We continue to work in partnership with existing organisations, especially schools. We have expanded our structures to include more Headteachers and we will be working with schools on management and leadership, including governance. We will build on lessons learned to map future sibling demand and we will be running two educational horizon scanning events. This year will see the launch of the new secondary Ivrit programme and we will be pushing forward work on standards. Finally, now may also be the time to look in detail at the real cost of Jewish schooling and how, on a communal level, we can respond to this revolution from below.