Glasgow Jewish school parent head rejects criticism

The chair of the parent council at Scotland’s only Jewish school has rejected claims by other parents of falling standards in its Jewish education.

Tony Tankel dismissed the suggestion of a reduction in the number of Jewish studies classes offered at Calderwood Lodge in Glasgow from four to three per week as “unsubstantiated drivel” and “a scare story”.

Parents with children attending the school, which caters to both Jewish and non-Jewish pupils, have expressed concern that Jewish education has been sidelined since East Renfrewshire Council took on responsibility for it from the private charity, Calderwood Jewish Education in 2010.

Mr Tankel insisted that the quality of Jewish teaching remained unchanged and that there were no fewer classes this year “than there were last year.

“Different curriculum issues mean that a lot of the Jewish subjects have now been put into regular class time, something that was called for many years ago,” said Mr Tankel, who did not respond when originally asked about the claims. He also defended the school over the claim that parents were no longer included in Jewish events, such as the kabbalat Shabbat assemblies.

“Parents are included in the life of Calderwood Lodge at both secular and Jewish events more than any other school in East Renfrewshire local authority,” he said, adding that if parents were invited in “two or three times rather than four times or rather than every single week”, it was merely a management decision “made in the best interests of the children” and with full support of the parent council.

One of the concerns raised was that the independent advisory body to monitor Jewish education and maintain a community link, set up as part of the 2010 transfer arrangement, had been unexpectedly disbanded.

“Decisions were taken in agreement with various parties that the advisory body was no longer able to serve the function for which it was set up,” said Mr Tankel, adding that parent council meetings were open to all.

One parent who told the JC of his concerns reiterated his comments this week.

He said that last week’s report had been “spot on” and noted that, until the article appeared, some parents had been unaware of the disbanding of the advisory body.

“It’s got out in the open which means parents are now talking about it,” he said.

Last updated: 1:45pm, September 28 2012