Family & Education

Our schools need financial support from parents

If parents don't maintain voluntary contributions, Jewish education will suffer


The Covid-19 lockdown will have changed the way we see many different aspects of “normal” life. It has thrust the importance of supporting our NHS to the forefront of people’s minds. Equally, for anyone navigating the challenges of remote learning, whether for nursery, primary or secondary, the lockdown has proven the significance and value of our schools, our teachers and our other staff.

As chairs of Yavneh and JFS, we are fortunate that we represent parent bodies that have always valued their children’s education. This has been tangibly illustrated through the financial support donated to schools through voluntary contributions.

As we face the stark economic realities of a post-lockdown recovery, we must continue to place front and centre of our minds the importance of prioritising this crucial support to our schools through an ongoing community commitment to voluntary contributions.

Without these contributions schools will not close but they could look different in terms of what they offer. There is no obligation for anyone to make a contribution and no pupil will be treated differently according to whether or not their parents have made any contribution in response to a school’s request. However, these contributions provide an additional income to our schools, enhancing both formal and informal education that goes above and beyond the statutory provision funded by the Department for Education.

Voluntary contributions are vital to our schools to fund Jewish education/kodesh provision, which complement the wide and varied curricular offerings that engage and enrich our children’s lives.

Despite falling income in real terms for schools nationally, there has been an unprecedented strengthening of the Jewish schools across the community. They provide an outstanding education, fundamentally enabled by parents’ financial investment in the future of their children.

Over recent years, however, the level of voluntary contributions received has been on a downward trajectory. This has been exacerbated over recent weeks by the impact of lockdown, when many parents have understandably had to re-examine their ability to give voluntary contributions. Typically, we have seen a decrease of 20 to 25 per cent from last year.

This makes it all the more vital that each and every family which is in a financial position to be able to contribute does so. We have to ask ourselves, as we sit at home reflecting on the importance and value of our children’s educational experience in school, what we want our schools to look like when they finally reopen their doors.

If we don’t act together to support our schools through an increased commitment to giving voluntary contributions, this may impact on the quality of educational provision which is at the heart of what we do. This could fundamentally and detrimentally change the soul of our Jewish schools and strip back what we as parents value so highly.

Put simply, while short term savings and budget cuts have to be considered by schools individually, these are just interim patches. To sustain our schools for the long term we need a communal response that adequately resources them.

To those able to contribute who may have not donated, we beseech you to do so. For those who are in the fortunate position to be able to give over and above the suggested level of contribution, we invite you to do so. We have to ask ourselves, if we do not support our child’s school, who will?

By working together as a community of parents who value our schools, we can ensure that we provide our children with the very best educational opportunities in this uncertain world.

Sue Nyman is chair of Yavneh and Andrew Moss chair of JFS

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