Family & Education

Teacher strike closes JCoSS, JFS and other Jewish schools

It is back to remote learning for students in several Jewish secondary schools


LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 01: Teachers and supporters wave flags and hold placards as they picket outside Bishop Thomas Grant school during a day of national strikes by many unions, including the National Education Union, on February 01, 2023 in London, England. Public sector union members in education, the civil service and the Railways are taking part in strike action across the UK today. Teachers are walking out for the first time over pay and conditions joining 100,000 civil servants who are also seeking a pay rise. ASLEF and RMT train drivers are continuing a long-running strike and will also walk out on Friday. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

A number of Jewish schools were forced to close on Wednesday as the country’s largest teaching union, the National Education Union, staged the first in a series of planned strikes in coming weeks over pay and conditions.

JFS headteacher David Moody said, “Unfortunately, with nearly half of teachers opting to strike, the school has had to close for the day. We will be providing resources to all pupils. Small groups of students are also being invited in for intervention where possible.”

JCoSS in East Barnet has also shut its gates as there would have been too few staff available to ensure on-site safety. “Students will be remotely working on Teams and live lessons will be taught by teachers not striking,” a spokesman said.

Hannele Reece, headteacher of King Solomon High School in Essex, said, “We will be closed for all students except those who need the most support or are most vulnerable whom we have specifically invited in.  Students who would normally receive free school meals are being provided with food vouchers.”

Pupils had been provided with work to do. While the situation was frustrating, she said, “it is a clear indication of how strongly school staff feel about unfunded pay rises that are only going to damage the education system in the long term”. 

Yavneh College has remained open for years 7, 11, 12 and 13 and the most vulnerable students, while King David High School Manchester for years 10 to 13.

Andrew McClusky, executive headteacher of the Hasmonean High Schools, said, “We have endeavoured to put on a programme for as many students as possible but in line with government guidance have prioritised our most vulnerable students and children of key workers.

“For students in older years we have managed to arrange some face-face religious education. We are hoping to teach as many secular classes as possible remotely but for those lessons where teachers are striking or otherwise unavailable, students will be redirected to relevant online resources for independent working.”

There has been less disruption in the primary sector with schools such as Yavneh Primary and Rosh Pinah - although Rimon in Golders Green, part of the Jewish Community Academy Trust, was closed.

A spokesman for JCAT said, "The decision for a teacher to strike is never taken lightly as they know the impact it has on pupils and families; however it is also important that they are given a voice. We have worked alongside our schools to ensure that this disruption has been managed as well as it possibly can be."

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