Family & Education

Jewish school with Muslim majority ranked outstanding for Jewish studies

King David Birmingham’s young stars shine for Pikuach


King David Birmingham's school sign

A Jewish school which has a majority of Muslim pupils has been rated outstanding for Jewish studies.

Leaders of the state-aided King David Primary School in Birmingham were “passionate about the importance of a Jewish school, whilst upholding the multi-faith nature of the school community as

paradigm of living harmoniously together in today’s society,” the Board of Deputies-run inspection service Pikuach reported.

Jewish education at the school was “rich in content and skilfully differentiated” to meet pupil needs with parallel classes for Jewish and non-Jewish children.

King David has 18 Jewish pupils at present and Sikh, Christian and Hindu as well as Muslim children.

In all lessons observed by inspectors, pupils were “able to talk about what they were learning, the relevance to their lives, or how it related to their own religion or beliefs”.

The school’s ethos was expressed by the recently created acronym, KDStar, which “stands for kedushah — holiness; derech eretz — kindness and respect; simchah — joy; Torah— learning to be our best selves; achdut — unity; and ruach — spirit”, inspectors said. “These together make up the characteristics of a perfect King David ‘star pupil’. Pupils, governors and all members of staff, whether working in teaching or non-teaching roles, could articulate what it is to be a KDStar.”

Noting an atmosphere of “exemplary calm” within the school, Pikuach said religious studies head Esther Cohen’s “ outstanding practice included “a passionate desire to promote the personal spiritual growth of all pupils and adults throughout the school”.

One Muslim pupil, who felt “close to God” when praying in the mosque, said that his Jewish learning had helped to become more aware of his relationship with God.

Another reported loving reading the Shema “since we are all unique and made by Hashem”.

The school has run popular workshops for parents and children, which have included making fruit kebabs for Tu Bishvat and a Pesach Seder.

One “moving and memorable” event that was recently held was the visit of a Holocaust survivor, which began with the chair of governors Simone Bryant playing the theme of Schindler’s List on the violin. A local pastor along with children from a Church of England school attended.

A kosher cookery room has proved a “great enhancement” to the school’s facilities, Pikuach said.

The inspection report noted that there had been some parental anxiety around heightened security after October 7 but that children had become “more comfortable” with it over time.

Headteacher Steve Langford said, “We’re absolutely delighted that the inclusive ethos of the school has been recognised, where every child, from whatever faith or cultural background, is invited to learn and grow from our Jewish ethos and values.”

The school has a large number of pupils entitled to free schools meals — 72, while for 83 English is a foreign language.

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