Family & Education

JFS expands Jewish studies - but Ivrit to be optional as modern language after year 7

Changes in curriculum made to comply with Ofsted guidance


JFS is to allocate more lessons to Jewish studies from next term — although Ivrit will become optional as a modern foreign language after the first year.

Ivrit has been a compulsory foreign language for the first three years at the school. But from September, those entering year 8 will have to choose between Ivrit, French and Spanish as their foreign language — while some Ivrit will be included as part of Jewish studies.

The school said it will still remain possible to do Ivrit and another foreign language for GCSE by taking the Ivrit exam early in year 9.

Jewish studies will increase from four to six lessons a fortnight, enjoying “more curriculum time than it has had in many years,” said headteacher David Moody.

Within JS, there would be “a core of Ivrit teaching that will aim to be as culturally relevant as possible”.

In a subject such as Spanish, most who took the GCSE were not native speakers and “so other non-native speakers stand an equal chance of obtaining the top grades”, he explained.

The reverse was true of Ivrit. “The majority of students who sit these are native speakers and so it is more difficult for non-native speakers to achieve well.”

For those who sat Ivrit early and wanted to do a second modern language for GCSE, extra tuition would be available, he said.

However, of those taking Ivrit GCSE in year 11, “only three out of 300 do so alongside another language and it is that natural preference of students as indicated over a number of years that has led us to the curriculum changes that we have put in place,” he said.

“If students do not sit a GCSE early, they are extremely unlikely to continue with two [languages]. Through recognising this, the school is able to offer more consistent access to subjects such as computer science, design and technology, art and music throughout the year and in keeping with Ofsted’s curriculum guidance.”

Dr Moody said JFS was exploring with the World Zionist Organisation the possibility of evening classes for non-native speakers who would like to pursue modern Hebrew “in more depth”.

READ MORE: Ivrit can help unite Jews across the world

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