A war of words has broken out between the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council (JRC) and the Calderwood Lodge Parent Council over the religious future of Glasgow’s only Jewish school.
Set up in 1962, Calderwood Lodge caters to both Jewish and non-Jewish children, but offers kosher food and Jewish studies. Despite this, in the most recent inspection report, it was labelled a “non-denominational school with a Jewish ethos”.
Responsibility for Jewish education has lain with East Renfrewshire Council for the past two years. As part of the handover to the local authority, an independent advisory body was set up to monitor Jewish education and maintain links with the community.
In June, this was disbanded without explanation. “It brought things to a head,” said JRC president Edward Isaacs. He held a meeting with East Renfrewshire last month, during which he said he “pressed for the full implementation of the statutory legislation governing denominational schools”.
Under the Education Scotland Act of 1980, certain provisions are made for denominational schools, including the right of a religious body to approve teachers and for there to be a specific supervisor of religious instruction.The JRC’s concern is that if the school is not viewed as denominational it will not have this statutory guarantee for the future of Jewish education at the school.
Last week, opposition to the JRC’s position was made public by the Calderwood Lodge Parent Council, which wrote to parents stating that if the school were denominational, and a representative of a particular branch of Judaism was appointed as the sole supervisor of religious instruction, this “would lead inexorably to a serious imbalance” and would not reflect the diverse Jewish backgrounds of the current pupils.”
But Mr Isaacs has now accused the Parent Council of being “partial in content, alarmist in tone, misleading in fact. Being designated as a Jewish denominational school is the biggest safeguard to the school’s Jewishness, whether that Jewishness be expressed through the Orthodox, Reform or other traditions.”
Mr Isaacs said the Parent Council had left him with no alternative but to speak out.
Now the Parent Council has invited parents to “informative meetings, class by class” from November 5, at which the situation will be discussed.