Family & Education

Inspectors pleased by Kerem’s progress

Hampstead Garden Suburb school has provided additional mental health support to pupils in the wake of October 7


Hard at work in a Kerem classroom

Inspectors have recognised improvements made by Kerem, the independent primary school based at Hampstead Garden Suburb United Synagogue.

Leaders have taken on board the need for change in marking and feedback that was identified in the previous report from the Independent Schools Inspectorate five years ago.

“Pupils now receive more effective feedback which requires them to engage with and act upon individual targets,” inspectors said in a newly published report.

They noted, “A focus on academic attainment has led to a steady improvement in standardised scoring which illustrates that pupils are making good progress in their literacy and numeracy skills”.

Unlike Ofsted, the ISI does not award grades to sum up a school’s performance.

It found that a newly introduced behaviour management system has reduced incidents of poor behaviour but that the quality of teaching and learning is “inconsistent”.

Leaders realised their next step is to ensure that behaviour and teaching quality was “consistently high” throughout the school.

Early years pupils are “consistently ahead” of age-related expectations in language and communications, benefiting from “generous” adult to children ratios.

Children with special needs are well supported, while overall inspectors highlighted the “deep sense of spiritualism” among pupils which is connected to the school’s Jewish ethos.

Their tolerance and empathy is developed by a study of world religions, while their respect for diversity is furthered by events such as Neurodiversity Week and “Faces of Israel Week”, when they learn about different Jewish cultures.

Additional mental health support has been offered to pupils affected by events in the Middle East, while workshops on body image and anti-bullying have been given by experts in response to concerns from pupils and teachers.

Kerem’s head Naomi Simons said it was “encouraging to see the inspectors recognise the progress the school has made in the last five years, especially academically. One of my earliest priorities as headteacher was to increase the levels of academic rigour to ensure higher attainment for all pupils.”

The school team saw it as their duty, she said, “to set children up successfully for the next stage of their education journey, with many moving on to some of the country’s best performing secondary schools. This starts in our early years unit, so we are pleased that the inspectors acknowledged how the team's hard work, small class sizes, generous ratios, and targeted teaching enable our youngest pupils to achieve such high standards.

“Across the country we have seen how the lasting impact of the Covid lockdowns are affecting children’s mental health and ability to focus on learning. This is why we place such a strong emphasis on pupils’ mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. We also recognise the intrinsic link between wellbeing and the ability to maximise learning and attainment.”

Chair of governors, Sonia Abrahams, said, “In my conversation with the inspectors they noted how impressive our Year 6 cohort are, to which I proudly responded that our pupils leave Kerem happy, confident, articulate and curious about the world around them.

“As we celebrate our 75th anniversary, we seek to continuously improve and our headteacher Ms Simon remains tireless in her ambition for the future of the school.”

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