FAQs
General

Why is JCoSS different to any other Jewish school?

There is no other Jewish secondary school in the UK like JCoSS. JCoSS is a school for the whole Jewish community – Orthodox and Progressive, religious and secular.  Pupils are taught to understand and respect all the UK’s mainstream Jewish traditions

Our belief in inclusion shines through everything we do, always looking to include rather than exclude. We expect first and foremost to be judged on the quality of the education we provide. Our outstanding headteacher and expert educators promote excellence by working with both students and parents to ensure that every child follows a curriculum that stretches them to achieve their own unique potential. The curriculum and our Jewish Education programme, both inside and out of the classroom, encourage all students to make informed choices about the lives they wish to lead. We invite students to question, analyse and challenge each other and their learning.

Is JCoSS a selective school?

No.  JCoSS is a non-selective, state school, with no entry examination.

Priority is given to Jewish applicants i.e. those recognised as Jewish by any of the mainstream movements in the UK.

Isn’t JCoSS really a Reform/Progressive School?

No, not at all. JCoSS is a cross-communal school not Reform, Liberal, Masorti, Charedi or anything else.

We have created an environment which values all children and respects the decisions which their parents take as to how to practice their Judaism. The school is kosher and marks all the Chagim. It teaches children about all the mainstream traditions within Judaism and seeks to equip them with the information they need to develop their own ideas, without judging their decisions. Because we know many parents, whatever their backgrounds, share these values, we have attracted pupils from across the Jewish community.

Where can I read a copy of your first Ofsted report?

You will find a copy of our first Ofsted Report at http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report/provider/ELS/135747

What is your behaviour policy?

JCoSS’s approach to behaviour management is to emphasise the good, minimise opportunities for poor behaviour (for example the uniform, without a tie and with a choice of skirt or trousers for girls, encourages students to rise to our expectations). At the centre of our approach are the Golden Rules, the fourth rule being the most important: Be A Mensch.

Rewards include verbal praise, credits, cards, achievement displays, commendations, certificates, credit lotteries and attendance at Celebration Evening. Sanctions include a variety of non-confrontational approaches followed by detentions, parental meetings, internal and external exclusion.

A copy of the school’s Behaviour Policy is available by contacting the school office.

How do you allocate your pupil premium grant?

Please click here for more information

Curriculum and faith

What does the Jewish studies element of the curriculum consist of?

All students follow an innovative Jewish education programme, both formal and informal. Study is text-based and offers a wide variety of interpretative models., It includes courses in:
– Jewish texts ( Tenach, Rabbinics,)
– Jewish values (Tikun Olam, laws between humanity (bein adam l’chavero) )
– Jewish practice (Jewish calendar, life cycle , festivals, prayer)
– Jewish history (ancient, medieval, Shoah, modern Jewish communities)
– Israel studies
– Jewish art and literature

Students all have the opportunity to take national examinations in Jewish Studies at GCSE/AS and A2 level

Won’t this favour some Jewish traditions over others?

No. It is perfectly possible to provide Jewish studies while being open to difference between the various mainstream Jewish traditions, indeed this is the norm in most Jewish schools around the world. The aim is to enable students to develop their own beliefs and practices from a position of knowledge, so they graduate as proud, self-confident Jews.

Are students taught Hebrew?

Hebrew (Ivrit) is offered to all students as a part of the Modern Foreign Language syllabus, as well French, and accommodates children of all abilities and skill-levels.  Biblical Hebrew is taught to students as part of the Jewish Studies curriculum

Do you observe festivals and keep kosher?

The school closes early for Shabbat and is closed on all festivals.  Festival and Shabbat preparation and celebration is a central feature of school life.  All catering is kosher

Do you allow children to bring pack lunches?

Yes, vegetarian only.  Children are not allowed to bring into school any prohibited foods, which others may inadvertently share.

Who is your religious authority?

Formally it is the JCoSS Governing Body which is representative of the whole mainstream community.  JCoSS is a school, not a religious authority.  As a result, we approach questions of religion and halacha as educational opportunties rather than religious dilemmas.  There are no rabbis on our Trustees or Governing Body and we are entirely independent.  We ensure that all of the community is comfortable in our school.  Our cafeteria, for example, is supervised by an Orthodox rabbi (Rabbi Michael Pollak) and on the Sabbath, we are Shabbat Observant in public areas.

Do children have to wear kippot?

A kippah is included as a part of the school uniform, but the decision whether or not to wear it will be a personal one for both girls and boys.

What happens if a pupil breaks the religious rules?

Our principle is that all students have to obey religious rules where others may be affected, We therefore draw a distinction between personal and public religious behaviour.  For example, boys need not wear a prayer vest (arba kanfot/tzitzit) but children are not allowed to bring into school any prohibited foods, which others may inadvertently share. Breaking such rules is dealt with through the normal discipline procedure in accordance with school rules.

Do pupils have to pray?

All pupils have the opportunity for daily prayer and thoughtful reflection. However, Jewish prayer can take many forms and students have the opportunity to participate in many different styles of service.

Do you support Israel?

The school ethos supports the right of Israel to exist within safe and recognised borders and is developing strong links with Israel. It has developed a knowledge of and relationship with Israel’s people, history and land, and takes pride in its achievements.

There are regular visitors and guests from Israel, internet links with pupils in Israeli schools and residential visits to Israel. In addition JCoSS has generated close links with Israeli schools and teachers.

Do pupils learn about religions other than Judaism?

Absolutely.  This is an integral part of JCoSS’s inclusive ethos.  All JCoSS students study world religions through the school’s religious education curriculum and the school makes good links with the wider faith and local community.

How can I ensure that my child won’t meet non-Halachically Jewish children?

You can’t. We live in a multi-cultural society and part of the JCoSS ethos is to prepare and educate pupils to understand the meanings and implications of this.  As such, if this is a major concern for you, JCoSS may not be the school for you.

But of course, even if you send your child to another Jewish school they may meet non-halachic students and again when they have left school.

Leadership and financial

Who contributed financially to JCoSS?

Originally set up in July 2001 in response to a growing demand from parents, JCoSS is now an independent, voluntary body, which operates through the Jewish Community Secondary School Trust, a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee.

JCoSS is working in partnership with Norwood, the UK’s leading Jewish children and family services charity.  JCoSS enjoys the formal support of three of the UK’s five main Jewish movements as well as very many individuals and Jewish community organisations.

Around 75% of the capital funding – around £36 million – came from central government.  The rest – around £10-12 million – was raised from every section of our community from secular to mainstream Orthodox, led by Gerald Ronson.  Obviously for reasons of confidentiality we can’t talk about individual donors, although our President, Gerald Ronson, has made public his contribution of £1million for which we are incredibly grateful. The Pears family has generously supported the Special Resource Provision.

JCoSS is a state school, funded by the Government and the Local Education Authority. In common with other faith schools, parents are invited to make a voluntary contribution to fund the cost of supporting the school’s Jewish ethos and security as this is not covered by statutory funding.

How do you allocate your pupil premium grant?

 Please click here to explain how we allocate our pupil premium grant.

 

What is the school’s charging policy?

JCoSS provides free education for children of all abilities. Parents are asked for a voluntary contribution to pay for Jewish Education and security costs, neither of which are funded by local or national governments.

The Governors reserve the right to charge in the following instances:

  • Where a family opts for a child to have private lessons (eg musical instrument, singing, bnei mitzva classes).
  • Where a family opts for a child to enter an examination that is not a normal part of the JCoSS curriculum.
  • Where a family opts for a child to participate on a school visits which is not a compulsory part of the curriculum – the family will be invited to cover the costs involved on the understanding that if there is insufficient support the proposed trip will not take place.
  • Cost of ingredients/materials for practical subjects (eg Food Technology).
  • Other than stationery, JCoSS will provide all materials, including exercise books and textbooks, necessary for in-school curriculum access. Additional items for home use, such as dictionaries and calculators, may be purchased by parents.
Pears Special Resource Provision

Do you take only Jewish children in the Pears Special Resource Provision?

The admissions policy for the Pears Special Resource Provision (PSRP) is different from that for the mainstream school.  The admissions authority for the PSRP is Barnet Local Authority and not JCoSS.  Priority is given to those children whose special needs are best served by the service we can offer, as set out in their statement of special needs.

To what extent is teaching integrated?

Each student in the Pears Special Resource Provision (PSRP) has different needs and these are met on an individualised basis with an Individual Learning Plan. Integration of teaching and other school activities are undertaken where it is appropriate and helpful to both the students in the PSRP and the mainstream school. Areas include: music, art, sports, religious activities, etc. We have the capacity to provide both integrated and separated, specialist education.