Family & Education

Our children need space to think

The Pause for Thought programme at JFS gives pupils a moment to reflect during the day on what matters to them


Life in the 21st century seems to have become more pressurised and busy despite the technological advances that are supposed to make things simpler.

How many of us take time daily or weekly to stop and reflect on where we are and where we are going in life? Those of us who are religiously observant may utilise Shabbat or daily prayer for this self-assessment; indeed, the Hebrew word to pray, lehitpallel, means to judge oneself.

At JFS over this past year we have introduced a collective moment of daily reflection. At 8.30 am every day, we “Pause for Thought”. Unashamedly mirrored from similar radio broadcasts, in classrooms and offices across the school everyone takes a moment to listen to a podcast delivered by a member of staff or student.

The weekly theme is linked to something happening at school, in the Jewish calendar or wider world. This is a whole school community project that brings us together to listen and learn one idea that is the same for everyone, whether in year seven or the sixth form.

The Pause for Thought project has gathered momentum with an increasing number of student voices over the year and we are well under way into our second year of this initiative. We ask our students to sit, listen quietly and think about the message we are hearing together. How do they connect to that message and what can they learn from it?

The podcasts introduce students to teachers and their lives in a way that a regular classroom may not be able to achieve and similarly our students teach us about how they have bettered themselves through or their views on important issues of the day. Pause for Thought builds and strengthens relationships.

It is a very powerful idea to stop and reflect for a few moments every day, to become more mindful of the world around you. At JFS, Pause for thought helps us to think about our day ahead; what do we want to achieve today? How will today be even better than yesterday? This moment of quiet reflection helps our students to think about why they are learning, not just what or how they are learning.

We live in a very busy world. We rush around from place to place, taking in information, doing “stuff” that needs to be done and this can become overwhelming.

Before we know it, several weeks or even months may have passed us by. Taking time to Pause for Thought is very good for our wellbeing. It puts our lives into perspective — helping us to work out what is important and what can wait.

At JFS, we collectively and daily stop, breathe and plan each morning. We create that moment of calm by Pausing for Thought.

Rachel Fink is headteacher of JFS

And here is one Pause for Thought from JFS student Abigail Stanton reflectiing on her experience inyear nine last year:

Achievement can be anything big or small. Celebration is an event where you show your happiness at what you have achieved; for example, a bar or batmitzvah or having a small party with friends

Since I was young, I always struggled keeping up with my peers. I always had extra support in the class to help me with my studies. In 2017 I was told that I had 30 per cent hearing loss in both ears.

There were times with my hearing loss when I felt I wouldn’t manage to achieve much. Over the last couple of years, I have felt more confident and able to achieve in school.

I began this last academic year on a very low level in maths. Through a lot of work and support this year, I can say that I achieved something of which I am proud.

When I think back three or four years ago, I couldn’t imagine achieving well and I certainly couldn’t imagine talking to the whole school.

So, what I am trying to say to you is that if I can do it, then anyone can. It just takes a little help from teachers and most importantly carry on believing 
in yourself.


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