Family & Education

Outstanding Yavneh College wows Jewish studies inspectors

Students given 'space to question and travel their own path'


Yavneh College’s executive headteacher, Spencer Lewis, said its latest inspection report for Jewish studies was “perhaps the best I have ever read” after it was ranked outstanding in all areas.

Students were “inspired both by the Jewish education offered and a dedicated staff who are outstanding role models for Jewish commitment, practice, and learning,” said Pikuach, the Board of Deputies-run inspection service.

Its “ambitious and varied” curricula offered students opportunities to explore their Jewish identity through different study tracks and a wide range of informal activities.

Students were “encouraged to think deeply and to connect their Jewish learning to other areas of Judaism as well as to life outside the classroom and school. They develop the skills and  personal qualities necessary for living and working together both as a school community, and in the wider society.”

Pupils talked about how their Jewish education helped them “develop a social conscience based on Jewish values”, Pikuach reported.

Most students “exhibit an awareness of spiritual matters related to their relationship with Hashem, people and the world around them. They are given space to question and to travel their own path supported by open discussions and knowledgeable educators who care about preparing the next generation to become active contributors to both the Jewish community and to the wider British society.”

In year 7, students can opt for the beit midrash track with a higher textual learning component that involves an optional, extra weekly lesson.

One student commented, “The level of Jewish studies that is taught is high and makes me want to continue developing my Jewish knowledge when I leave Yavneh.”

Another said, “I come from a religious background but had many questions. I was doing things automatically. Yavneh gave me the space to explore my relationship with Judaism. I have chosen to go to yeshivah next year.”

Students described their experiences of prayer as positive and enriching. While all expressed love for the informal education programme, “those who struggle to engage through Jewish academia particularly benefit,” Pikuach said.

All religious studies A-level studies passed at either A* to C — compared to the national average of 88 per cent, with those achieving A* to B up from 69 per cent in to 90 per cent in 2019 to 2022.

More than 70 per cent of those taking religious studies for the international GCSE achieved a grade 7 or above.

At key stage 3, 93 per cent of pupils reached “developing, security and mastery” levels for Jewish history: 92 per cent for Talmud: and 71 per cent for Tanach.

Whether making bags for children going to foster homes, Gift or other social action charities, or by volunteering at school, students understood and practised how to “build a world based on kindness” (the school’s motto, Olam Chesed Yibaneh).

One parent told inspectors, “The school has given my child the skills he needs to practise Judaism and has given him confidence in his religious identity.”

Pikuach observed, “There was a real ‘wow moment when the teacher showed a video on Haifa being a multi-faith society, which demonstrated, to music, how people of different faiths and backgrounds can live with each other in harmony.”

One student said, “I have grown up in the Jewish bubble. It is great to be able to explore what is taught what is outside it and learn about other perspectives and faith values as well as Jewish values”

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