Family & Education

Hasmo Boys earn rave review for Jewish studies

Inspectors impressed by Orthodox school’s ability to cater for different levels within its student body


Enthused and inspired: pupils at Hasmonean High School for Boys

Hasmonean High School for Boys has been rated outstanding for Jewish studies in the first inspection of its religious programme since it became formally separate from the girls’ school in 2019.

It follows the outstanding grade awarded to the girls for Jewish studies a few weeks ago.

The superlatives flowed from inspectors who found students “enthused and inspired” as they developed a pride in being Jewish and a love of Torah.

The boys’ school was successful in its aim of nurturing pupils to become “happy, confident and respectful adults” who were committed to a life of Torah im derech eretz (“Torah with respect”).

One student reported that at his previous school “we learnt Torah to succeed in tests, but

here we learn Torah because it is so geshmak [pleasurable]”.

A parent said, “The school has transformed my son’s view of learning, character building and giving to others, in a most positive way.”

Testing showed a “high level of attainment” in almost all subjects with “exceptional” knowledge and skills in biblical Hebrew, Talmud and Chumash.

Key stage 4 students were able to translate Torah commentators unseen “exceptionally well,” inspectors said.

But a revamp of the halachah curriculum was recommended as knowledge in this area was more “variable” than in others.

Students were “taught to differentiate between altruistic actions and selfish ones and given much direction on unpicking what is right and what is wrong”.

They demonstrated “lovely” middot (good character traits) in school and “superb” concerntration in prayer which was “a beautiful spiritual experience”, inspectors said.

Inspectors were particularly impressed with Hasmonean’s ability to cater for a “relatively wide spectrum” within the Orthodox community, ranging from more textually focused studies to a less formal programme with an emphasis on personal growth.

The Beis provision for years 11 to 13 was a “centre of excellence”, while extracurricular activities were “outstanding”.

The school’s principal Rabbi Jeremy Golker — who was praised for his “dynamic” leadership by inspectors — said he was “thrilled” with the outcome.

The inspection was carried out by Rabbis Nesanel Lieberman and Rabbi Dr Yonason Yodaiken, both heads of Strictly Orthodox primary schools.

State-aided faith schools are required to arrange regular inspections of their religious studies; they can appoint inspectors but are required by the Department for Education to consult first with Pikuach, the Board of Deputies-run Jewish inspection service.

Andrew McClusky, chief executive of the Hasmonean Multi-Academy Trust, said “We are immensely proud of everything the school has achieved in its mission to teach Torah and ensure Jewish values live and breathe throughout the school.”

Hasmonean’s “ruach [spirit] and ambition shines through in the inspectors’ report,” he added.

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