Education Bill

Memorandum submitted by the Board of Deputies of British Jews (E 47)

1. This submission is sent by the Board of Deputies of British Jews – the cross-communal, democratically elected, national representative organisation for the Jewish community in the UK. In compiling this submission we have consulted with organisations from across the Jewish community in order to attempt to capture the complex range of views from our diverse schools and stakeholders.

2. Many points raised in this evidence have been submitted previously in a letter dated 9 December 2010 to Rt Hon Michael Gove MP entitled "Initial response to "The Importance of Teaching: White Paper November 2010." Please see Annex 1 for a copy of this letter.

3. Education is a core value in Judaism, and our school system is something of which we are rightly very proud. At present, there are approximately 100 Jewish schools in the UK, of which 39 are Voluntary Aided and the remainder are independent. In September 2011, two of the first batch of Free Schools to open their doors will be Jewish schools.

4. In reference to Clause 1 (Free of charge early years provision) we would like to note that due consideration must be given to the criteria chosen to determine eligibility for free of charge early years provision. For a variety of reasons, free school meals (FSM) are often an inaccurate measure of deprivation within the Jewish community and it would be preferable if a range of measures including size of family, size of home and postcode classification systems were used. As an example of this, in many of the strictly orthodox Voluntary Aided schools, there are large numbers of impoverished families, but due to ineligibility for FSM or unwillingness to report, many schools do not reach the first threshold for FSM to affect their funding and provision. In a Westminster Hall debate on 15 February 2011, Stewart Jackson MP questioned Nick Gibb MP to this effect but in reference to Eastern European migrant communities who may also have a cultural predisposition against claiming free school meals. It is therefore clear that this is an issue of concern not just for the Jewish community but for many communities across the country.

5. Another concern is in relation to setting out in legislation "the times at which, and periods over which early years provision is to be made available." In response to a DCSF consultation on the Nursery Education Fund in January 2010, we made it clear that for many of our nurseries, especially those in the PVI sector, if flexibility is prioritised over teaching and learning it will reduce the quality of provision. It will also create significant logistical issues as staff are employed from September to August, funding is deployed from April to March and the ages of children (and therefore ratios) change throughout the year. With these variables constantly shifting, the proposals on enforced flexibility are simply not compatible with most settings.

6. In reference to Part 2 (Discipline) we are concerned that many of the measures which we particularly welcomed in the recent White Paper have not been actioned in this Bill. These include measures to tackle prejudice-based bullying in schools and increased powers for schools to discipline pupils for behaviour on the way to and from school. In their Antisemitic Incidents report 2010, the CST reported that "58 incidents targeted Jewish schools, schoolchildren or teachers in 2010…Of the 58 incidents in 2010, 28 were against Jewish schoolchildren on their journeys to or from school, 16 took place at Jewish school premises and 14 involved Jewish children or teachers at non-faith schools." [1] We would welcome an assurance that these issues will be addressed in legislation in the near future.

7. Clause 14 (Abolition of the Training and Development Agency for Schools) raises concerns as to the future of initial teacher training. We are concerned this abolition will lead to a loss of opportunity for unqualified teachers to gain qualified status via the current GTTP and SCITT routes. These routes are the preferred options for many teaching assistants and Jewish studies staff in our schools and the JTTP [2] is extremely concerned about their viability in light of this development.

8. We are in support of the provision of careers guidance for all pupils (Clause 27) but if this guidance must be provided by someone external to the school, then it must be done in a culturally sensitive manner, as external career guidance staff will be discredited if they promote options that are inappropriate or insensitive to the needs of the community, particularly the strictly orthodox sector. There are organisations within the Jewish community (such as Resource [3] ) who may be able to offer these services but many of these organisations are charities who are already over-stretched. Alternatively, there may be scope for faith-sensitive training to be provided for careers guidance staff from external organisations which may visit schools of a religious character. Guidance around vocational careers both within and outside of faith communities is also required.

9. In light of our successful SKIP (School Kodesh [4] Improvement Partner) programme, we regret the repeal of the requirement for local authorities to appoint School Improvement Partners (Clause 33). The SKIP programme works in parallel with the SIP programme to support the development of Jewish education in schools. Many of our schools find their SIP a useful tool and it is hoped that cost effective alternatives will still be available to schools.

10. Clause 36 refers to the establishment of new schools. As a community which is growing, and in which there are areas where current demand for places in Jewish schools far outweighs the available provision, we are conscious that a variety of routes to open new Jewish schools need to remain open to us. We have been repeatedly assured by government that the Voluntary Aided (VA) route will remain open for new Jewish schools and Schedule 10 seems to confirm this. However, in light of Local Authority cuts and the preferential treatment given to applications for new academies, this VA route seems unlikely to be a realistic or practical option and there is evidence on a local level across various Local Authorities that applications for VA status are becoming increasingly challenging. Whilst the current restrictions on admissions based on faith remain for new academies or free schools, the Jewish community is likely to favour the VA model and a show of support which would suggest that we can continue to open thriving and succesful schools in the same way that we have done for many years would be gladly welcomed by many in the Jewish education field. Jewish VA schools have consistently been among the top-performing schools in the country

11. In partnership with the UJIA, the Board of Deputies runs the successful Pikuach inspection service which inspects Jewish Studies in our schools. We work closely with OFSTED and undertake our s.48 inspections at the same time as OFSTED carry out s.5 inspections in any of our schools. If Clause 39 (School inspections: exempt schools) is passed, it must be stated in legislation that where necessary, s.48 providers will retain the necessary permissions to inspect schools. Whilst an outstanding s.5 inspection may exempt a school from further regular contact with OFSTED, it does not automatically mean that a school has received an outstanding s.48 inspection. In 2010, five Jewish schools were inspected [5] . Of these five schools, OFSTED graded one outstanding, one good and three satisfactory. In comparison, Pikuach graded three good and two satisfactory. This proves that there is not necessarily a correlation between the s.5 and s.48 grades. We therefore require a guarantee that permission and the required funding to carry out s.48 inspections will continue under the new framework.

12. We note the proposed changes to the details which an s5 inspection must cover (Clause 40) and we are in the process of adapting the Pikuach framework to mirror these changes. We particularly welcome the new subsection 5B which states that inspections must consider "the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils at the school." Supporting the SMSC needs of pupils is something that we consider hugely important not just in our schools but for all pupils in all schools.

13. Whilst not stated explicitly in the Bill, we are conscious that the duty to promote community cohesion, a previously inspected area, now has a lesser focus in the new OFSTED framework. Conscious of the continuing need to tackle prejudice and improve communal relations, we would seek assurances that this area of teaching and learning is to continue.

14. Whilst no Jewish schools have yet completed a conversion to academy status, we do have schools currently in the conversion process and others that are considering the step. We therefore welcome Clause 53 and its assertion that the religious body of a school must be consulted before any Academy order is made by the Secretary of State. In respect of subsection (5) paragraph (8b), the religious body for a Jewish school should be that which is listed for the school in the schedule of Rabbinic Authorities in "The Education (Determination of Admission Arrangements) (Amendment No. 2) (England) Regulations 2007 – Regulation 5ZA" [6]

15. With respect to Clause 56 (Transfer of property, rights and liabilities to Academies) and Clause 59 (Academies: land) we would like assurance that for voluntary aided schools, (whose their land is owned by a charitable foundation and not the local authority) the ownership of their land will not change on conversion to academy status, just the status of that land.

16. Clause 57 (Academies: new and expanded educational institutions) is of interest and we feel it important to highlight the fact that in the case of new Jewish schools which wish to open, this is generally built upon a legitimate business case and a demonstrable demand from Jewish parents for additional Jewish schools in their local area to cope with an increased birth rate in their Jewish community. New Jewish schools are not looking to open up to create competition with or impact upon other local providers, but in order to create places for Jewish children for whom there is no capacity in the existing Jewish schools. As a further point, there is also great interest from successful independent Jewish schools to join the state sector, thereby attracting state funding towards improving standards and affording greater scrutiny of provision through the inspection framework.

17. Clause 69 deals with raising the participation age, whereby young people must remain in education or training until the age of 18 or until a level 3 qualification is achieved (if earlier). We welcome the amendments within this clause which will allow for this change to happen gradually and for there to be a level of discretion in the process. We would suggest that a range of further study opportunities be considered for inclusion under the category of "education" namely to include seminary and yeshivah study which as advanced colleges of further education are embedded in the culture of our strictly orthodox communities.

March 2011

[1] The Community Security Trust (CST) advises and represents the Jewish community on matters of antisemitism, terrorism, policing and security. They provide security advice and training for Jewish schools, synagogues and communal organisations and give assistance to those bodies that are affected by antisemitism. CST also assists and supports individual members of the Jewish community who

[1] have been affected by antisemitism and antisemitic incidents For a copy of their Antisemitic Incidents report 2010 please click here -

[2] - The Jewish Teacher Training Partnership

[3] Resource – the Jewish employment advice centre is an independent charity, based in North London set up to help unemployed people in the Jewish community back into employment. It is operated by professional volunteer and paid staff who offer tra ining and one-to-one support ( )

[4] Kodesh refers to the Jewish Studies taught in Jewish schools.

[5] Pikuach reports can be downloaded from the Board of Deputies website -

[6] – list of r eligious authorities for Jewish schools