New status for Jewish studies teachers

28th September 2001 at 01:00
Jewish studies teachers are to be offered the chance to acquire qualified teacher status through new school-based training schemes.

Until now most have had no teaching qualifications and some have been paid less than national pay rates.

Latest figures show there are 34 voluntary-aided Jewish day schools, and another 101 independent fee-paying ones.

The new courses are also helping London schools find the Jewish studies teachers they need to maintain their faith ethos, as all the capital's schools struggle to find good staff in the recruitment crisis.

"Up to now, Jewish studies teachers haven't been qualified in the sense of having qualified teacher status. It's been the exception rather than the rule. That's rapidly changing," said Simon Goulden, chief executive of the Agency for Jewish Education, which supports the development of educational programmes for the sector.

Jewish studies teachers have tended to be expert in their specialism. They are often qualified to practise as rabbis, but may have lacked formal teaching skills. Pay has varied, with some schools paying less because of the lack of teaching qualifications and others paying more because of the importance attached to faith studies.

The AJE's teacher training partnership runs graduate and registered teacher programmes, and has just celebrated the first year of a school-centred initial teacher training scheme which looks set to get a positive inspection report from OFSTED later this term. More than 50 students graduated from the three programmes this year.

Vivienne Orloff, head of Michael Sobell Sinai school in Brent, London, the lead school in the 11-strong school-centred initial teacher training consortium, said recruiting and retaining good teachers with specialisms in Jewish studies was the main reason for setting up the scheme.

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