Heads of eight Jewish schools write to parents following ‘devastating’ death of JFS pupil

The headteachers also warned of the dangers faced by young people when using social media


Students with protective masks sitting in school desks in their classroom. School desks are marked with a cross to mark a place where sitting is not allowed to maintain social distance during corona virus .

The heads of eight Jewish schools have written to parents about the ‘devastating news’ of the death of a Year 10 JFS pupil last week.
The headteachers also warned of the dangers faced by young people when using social media. 
JFS headteacher Rachel Fink and seven other heads, including at JCoSS and Yavneh College,  expressed their condolences with the unnamed pupil’s loved ones in an email on Monday. 
“We know how special and close a Jewish school community can be and how such devastating news can affect pupils, staff and governors and we want them to know that we are thinking of them,” signatories said. 
They stressed the dangers posed to young people by social media platforms and added that the issue was “not a problem particular to JFS or indeed to our community.”
"The social interactions of young people have changed beyond all recognition in the last few years with social media being at the centre of their world. The opportunities these platforms offer are vast with the dangers equally so," they said.
Parents were told to remain vigilant and speak to their children about their online and social media activities.
They were also urged to regularly check their children’s phones, searching for anything “hidden”, use parental controls and keep phones out of bedrooms.
But the signatories of the letter also highlighted the social media guidance and range of counselling and wellbeing services being offered to students at JFS and other Jewish schools. 
“We run lessons, seminars and workshops, we show films, have visiting speakers and  campaigns, yet terrible things still happen. 
“There is in our view, no one right answer but we are determined to continue on our educational pathway so as to keep our pupils as safe as we can. We ask you as parents to join us,” they said. 

Mrs Fink, headteacher at JFS said: "It was with much sadness that we informed staff and students on Friday 12 March that one of our year 10 students had passed away suddenly. Our thoughts and prayers are with their family and friends.

"We have set up a dedicated space for students, staffed by people who have been trained to support young people after a tragic death. We are also working with the Emergency Response Initiative Consortium (comprising Jami, Norwood, CST, JBCS and Grief Encounter) to provide support to both students and staff.

 "We are awaiting the coroner’s report on the cause of death and would ask sincerely that the privacy of the student's family and friends is respected at this difficult time." 

 PaJeS, the UK umbrella group for Jewish schools, said it helped coordinate the email over the weekend.
If you need to speak to someone, call the Samaritans on 116 123 or text SHOUT to 85258.

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