Aiming higher on teacher quality
Two training schemes for Jewish studies teachers are to launch in the autumn in a bid to raise standards in the profession.
Up to 10 graduates will be recruited annually for a year-long school-based programme backed by a consortium of Jewish secondary schools and run by the education agency, Partnerships for Jewish Schools (PaJeS).
The London School of Jewish Studies, meanwhile, is introducing new BA and MA degrees in Jewish education, which will be validated by Middlesex University.
PaJeS executive director Alastair Falk said that its graduate course would provide on-the-job training under the government's School Direct scheme.
Its unique feature was that Jewish schools would be collectively attempting to train teachers for the Jewish system as a whole, rather than simply looking after their own needs.
The two initiatives will 'raise the bar of entrance to the profession'
"You've got schools working together to think strategically, not just competing," he explained. "That's the significant shift.
"We are looking at what a Jewish studies teachers should know, what should they be able to do and how do they understand the children they are teaching. "It could mean you've got 10 Jewish studies teachers coming into the system who are trained in the realities of teaching in the 21st century."
The schools will put in around £250,000 to cover the salaries of the students, while PaJeS has to find around £50,000 for the course, which will include some training in Israel.
As yet, School Direct does not offer a government subsidy for religious education teachers.
The LSJS four-year part-time BA will encourage a "new cadre of people considering Jewish education as a career", Mr Falk added.
Students would not need to travel to a central campus to take courses but could study closer to schools where they were gaining practical experience.
"You could have clusters of people in London or Manchester," Mr Falk pointed out.
It might also be possible for students to count time spent in yeshivah or seminary as credits towards the BA.
The two initiatives would "raise the bar of entrance to the profession", he said.