At the end of November, PaJeS held its second residential seminar for Head Teachers at Hunton Park in Hertfordshire. Thirty one head teachers came together from both primary and secondary Jewish Schools and came from as far afield as Calderwood Lodge Primary School in Glasgow. The seminar was a great opportunity to get head teachers together and to discuss many topics as well as getting advice and giving guidance.
The session started with an opportunity for working parties, set up at the last seminar, to update and report back on initiatives that they had been working on. These included important topics such as Mental Health and Well-being and succession planning in schools. Over dinner, short talks were given by three Heads on the subjects of ‘Changing Times’, British Values in a Charedi Context’ and ‘Vocational Routes’
The next day, saw interesting talks on a variety of subjects which included, ‘Benchmarking your school’s budget against publicly available data’ by Michael Glass, ‘The Seven Propositions of Leadership’ by John West Burnham and ‘Vision for leading a Jewish School’ by Rabbi Dr Rafi Zarum. There was also the chance for PaJeS to update the heads with their current plans.
As mentioned above, a key new initiative that was discussed at the Heads seminar was the launch of a project to deal with the very delicate issue of mental health and wellbeing in schools. The aim of this project is to transform the delivery of support provided by Jewish schools in relation to mental health and wellbeing. A PaJeS working party distributed a questionnaire to Jewish schools about mental health and wellbeing in May 2016. Thirty two responses from schools across the community, both primary and secondary, highlighted that this is a key area of concern for schools. As a result of the survey we established two key objectives which we will be working towards. These will be a) To give teachers in Jewish schools the skills, confidence and resources to help their students cope with wide-ranging emotional and social issues and b) To provide a permanent information resource to the Jewish school community.
The seminar ended with an update on future events and a feedback session. It was evident how much head teachers enjoyed meeting their counterparts from other schools and sharing their experiences and understandings. It was an extremely useful opportunity for head teachers to meet up and due to their busy schedules it was a rare opportunity to network and share current challenges and successes. It was also a good opportunity to hear what other heads were implementing in their schools and was a great way to share good practice.