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Outstanding Jewish studies report for Etz Chaim School in Mill Hill

Jewish education enjoys high profile at free school

    Etz Chaim children on biblical bake-off at LSJS
    Etz Chaim children on biblical bake-off at LSJS

    Etz Chaim, the Modern Orthodox primary free school in Mill Hill, has received an outstanding report for Jewish studies from the Board of Deputies-run inspection service Pikuach.

    Jewish education enjoyed a high profile throughout the school and pupils learned “exceptionally well,” said inspectors, who rated it outstanding in every category.

    Excellent lesson plans ensured pupils knew exactly what to do, with tasks catering for different ability levels. Pupils struggling with Hebrew reading benefited from one-to-one intervention and teaching support .

    The integration of secular with Jewish studies gave pupils “exciting opportunities” to explore Jewish themes in a range of subjects. In a year-one design and technology class, for example, kiddush cups were designed.

    One inspector commented on “very good Hebrew reading” at a year-four Chumash class, where pupils knew how to use the Hebrew words displayed on a wall to help their understanding of the verse they were translating.

    A youth service in years five and six encouraged pupils to be able to conduct services in school or their own community, “as well as ensuring they understand the structure and content of the regular service and can find their way around the siddur”.

    Prayers were “punctuated by moments of directed silence” where pupils had time to thank or ask things of God. “These moments of silence contribute not only to the sanctity of the tefillah [prayer] session, but also ensure that pupils begin to understand the value of prayer,” Pikuach said.

    A charity group formed by year-six pupils showed the deep concern of pupils for “ their responsibility to others”.

    Children had a “wide range of cultural interchanges with a local state-aided primary school, involving reciprocal visits. They are thus aware of other faith groups and become knowledgeable about the similarities and differences between the main faiths.”

    Pikuach also noted activities for parents including a Hebrew reading and Seed courses, and a family Friday-night dinner.

    Adam Dawson, founding chairman of the school, which was rated good by Pikuach five years ago, said headteacher Yvonne Baron and her team “deserve huge credit for the innovative, imaginative and dynamic ways in which they deliver education.”

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