Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg has told Jewish communal leaders he opposes government plans to force religious education and Hebrew out of the national curriculum.
Meeting members of the Board of Deputies and teachers in Liverpool last week Mr Twigg said: “The Jewish community’s concerns about keeping RE firmly in the curriculum resonate firmly with me. Learning Hebrew in Jewish schools is a key part of maintaining the culture and history of Jewish children.” He added: “Hebrew, if learned from competent teachers, should not be in danger of being squeezed out of the primary curriculum.”
The comments follow concerns over government plans to exclude Hebrew from core languages primary schools must select to teach. The plans mean Jewish schools would be forced to teach a third language besides Hebrew, or choose to eradicate the subject from their curriculum.
Other plans to exclude religious education as a GCSE core subject and making teaching evolution in Free Schools mandatory have also sparked fears among Jewish leadership.
In Liverpool Mr Twigg met local Jewish communal leaders at the King David schools campus. The high school’s head Brigid Smith, primary head Rachel Rick, primary governors’ chair Lauren Lesin-Davis and Merseyside Jewish Representative Council’s Gordon Globe discussed admissions and school funding issues with the MP.
Ms Rick said: “Mr Twigg listened carefully to how we feel the proposed national curriculum will affect Jewish schools.”
King David High announced its chair of governors Max Steinberg was stepping down after 13 years. The announcement came at the school’s prize ceremony two weeks ago, attended by 1,000 people and saw classical and modern musical performances by pupils at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. No replacement has been announced for Mr Steinberg.