Our ethos
Jewish Pluralist Ethos

JCoSS is a pluralist Jewish learning community that provides young people with an excellent Jewish Education.  We encourage debate and dialogue in a respectful and meaningful way. The words אלו ואלו (Elu v’elu divrei elohim chayim) – ‘These and these are the words of the Living God’ reflect our commitment to teaching the students from a variety of opinions and perspectives.

We embrace diverse approaches to Jewish belief and practice that coexist comfortably within our school.  We celebrate the ideological diversity that exists within our community, and create an atmosphere that is welcoming, open and tolerant.

Our students reflect diverse ideological viewpoints and are expected to participate in dialogue, think carefully about how these interactions might enrich their own views, and yet remain confident enough in their own individual identities to resist the forces of assimilation or homogenisation. We use מחלוקת (machloket/debate for the sake of heaven) as a tool for discussion.

We are wholeheartedly committed to educating students as literate Jewish and British citizens, well-grounded in the knowledge, understanding and skills they need to contribute to community life and to make a significant contribution to the Jewish and wider community. Our unique pluralist approach builds and informs students’ sense of Jewish identity and aims to inspire the students and to nourish their commitment to a life-long Jewish journey.

Our diverse Jewish environment fosters an atmosphere of mutual respect and our students learn about and from the whole spectrum of Jewish beliefs and practices. We enthuse our students to acquire the textual skills necessary for a serious engagement with and inspiration from a full range of Jewish sources, and a rich variety of Jewish texts in both Hebrew and English.  We encourage an appreciation of shared tradition, strong and robust ethical convictions and a commitment to תיקון עולם (tikun olam/social action).

Our students use texts and the arts to explore and reflect upon their own relationship to God, to Jewish history, to Israel and to the Jewish community, with the aim of deepening their commitment to and love of כלל ישראל (clal yisrael/the Jewish people).

Please click here to view our vision of the JCoSS Graduate

Please click here to view our Ethos poster

 

Learning Ethos

Achieve: We are committed to academic excellence and have a relentless and ambitious concern for outstanding results. We are committed to ensuring each child is successful in all that they do so they achieve their full potential and out-perform their own expectations. . We seek to prepare them in every way to go out into the world empowered and enriched by their innovative, outward looking Jewish educational experience.

Enrich: We offer a culturally rich environment and are committed to continuously exploring new ideas so that every student is enriched by their educational experience. Our innovative view of Jewish education empowers, enriches and looks outwards, and we expect our students and teachers to embody the characteristics of integrity, honour and dignity. We balance academic endeavour with personal achievement: well-rounded and enriched children are better able to become fulfilled and successful adults.

Inspire: We encourage curious minds that can think creatively and we aim to inspire brilliance in all our students. By supporting and nurturing personalised learning, we will get the best out of each student. Our school environment has been designed to inspire; it is a space ripe for creativity and the cross-pollination of ideas and learning.

Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Education and British Values

Please click here to view the Spiritual, Moral, Social, Cultural and British Values at JCoSS.

Recent events have brought to the fore public concerns about schools’ policies and practices in relation to some key educational and social values. In particular, attention has focused on the extent to which some schools, with or without an explicit faith ethos, tackle homophobic bullying and promote British values and community cohesion.

The JCoSS position on all these matters is robust and explicit. Our ethos of Jewish pluralism, the promotion of equality and the preparation for students for a full part in British society is very well known within the school and in the wider community. The British flag (together with the Israeli flag) is on prominent display in the Heart Space of the School. We consider that the ‘British Values’ at stake in this concern are the same as ‘Jewish Values’ as we understand them to be.

Below are some extracts from Governors’ policy documents which make this position clear; salient points are highlighted. Further down the document is a summary of some aspects of our provision for SMSC.

‘British Values’

From the Staff Code of Conduct:

Staff need to demonstrate the characteristics they are trying to inspire in students, including a spirit of intellectual enquiry, tolerance, honesty, fairness, patience, a genuine concern for other people and an appreciation of different backgrounds.

From the Performance Appraisal (Teachers) Policy:

Teachers are required to demonstrate that they fulfil the Teachers’ Standards which include the following (included in the policy)

Teachers uphold public trust in the profession and maintain high standards of ethics and behaviour,   within and outside school, by:

  1. Treating students with dignity, building relationships rooted in mutual respect, and at all times observing proper boundaries appropriate to a teacher’s professional position
  2. Having regard to the need to safeguard students’ well-being, in accordance with statutory provisions
  3. Showing tolerance of and respect for the rights of others
  4. Not undermining fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect, and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs
  5. Ensuring that personal beliefs are not expressed in ways which exploit students’ vulnerability or might lead them to break the law

Community Cohesion

A specific Community Cohesion Policy exists at JCoSS.

From the Behaviour for Learning Policy:

A key part of the school’s behavioural ethos is“teshuvah”.This richly nuanced notion includes the ideas of return, repentance, repair and reconciliation following wrong or hurtful behaviour. Whatever sanctions may be administered, there is an over riding need for making good the damage that has been done in relationships with the person injured, with the wider community, with one’s truest self and with God.

After any serious incident, all those involved need to reflect upon what has happened and take responsibility for their own behaviour, asking questions such as:

  • What went wrong and why?
  • What is the wider context which may have led to this incident?
  • How can I put it right?
  • How can I avoid the same thing happening again?
  • How can I avoid bitterness and entrenchment of attitudes in myself and in the wider community?

Homophobic Bullying

From the Anti-Bullying Policy:

JCoSS is committed to providing a caring, nurturing and safe environment for all of our students so they can learn in a relaxed and secure atmosphere. Bullying of any kind is unacceptable at JCoSS…

Bullying can be:…

  • Homophobic:    because of, or focussing on the issue of sexuality

From the Equal Opportunities Policy:

The JCoSS community comprises a wide variety of people, with varied backgrounds, lifestyles and cultures, both within and beyond the Jewish community. It is a diversity which enriches our lives and the educational process…

Central to our ethos is the phrase ‘elu v’elu divrei elokim chaim’ – these, and these, are the words of the living God. In practice, this means that every member of our community is equally valued, their beliefs and choices are equally valid, and their happiness, safety and security are equally important.

We recognise, value and welcome the diversity of our school community. This is reflected in our intake, our stakeholders, our curriculum and our values. We are committed to the pursuit of equal opportunities for all members of the school community, and are opposed to all forms of unfair discrimination which may hurt or disadvantage individuals or groups in school.

The school recognises its responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010. In line with (and in addition to) this Act, we are opposed to direct or indirect discrimination on the grounds of:

  • disability
  • age
  • physical appearance
  • religion and belief
  • ethnicity
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • maternity and pregnancy
  • sexual identity
  • HIV-positive/AIDS status    
  • socio-economic status (class)
  • Jewish status as a result of descent or conversion
  • gender
  • gender reassignment
  • trade union activity
  • supremacism

Appendix A – Sample practices to embed our Equal Opportunities and Anti-Racist ethos 

  1. Racist, sexist, homophobic, supremacist, and other offensive comments and incidents, however small, must never go unchallenged or ignored. They will be dealt with quickly…
  2. Complaints by students of racist, sexist, homophobic or supremacist behaviour will be taken seriously and acted on…
  3. All incidents of racist, sexist, homophobic or supremacist behaviour must be reported through the usual channels… 

From the Sex Relationship & Family Life Education Policy

  • Our approach to SRFLE will take account of:

–        Gender similarities and gender differences. Male and female students may be taught with only members of their own gender if deemed appropriate by the leadership of the school. We shall also be proactive in combating sexism and sexist bullying.

–        Sexual Orientation: Our approach to SRE will include sensitive, honest and balanced consideration of sexual orientation. We shall actively tackle homophobic bullying. 

SMSC Provision Map

Spiritual, Moral, Social, Cultural aspects of education are seen throughout all aspects of the school’s work, in interactions between students and teachers, in the ethos. It is hard to separate out one strand from another; the categories are therefore blurred (hence the dotted gridlines). Our provision for this was noted as Outstanding in May 2012, and is embedded across the work of the school.
The following are some highlights: 

Spiritual

  • Rosh Chodesh
  • IJE Y7 SoL on identity
  • Social Action programme
  • Jewish Education curriculum passim
  • Self-reflection built in to marking procedures
  • World Faiths half-term modules in KS3
  • Y7 Interfaith drop-down event in Interfaith Week
  • Y8 Interfaith trip
  • Assemblies inc Black History Month, Interfaith
  • Israel Trip
  • Teaching of Evolution includes reference to other perspectives
  • Impressive library of Jewish texts in LRC
  • Humanities: The Medieval Church: Monasticism.
  • Study of Job and suffering in Jewish Ed 

Moral

  • Robust behaviour policy
  • Frequent use of ethical debate as strategy for teaching/learning
  • PSHCE Citizenship module for each Year group 7-11
  • Regular visits from Police
  • Student Parliament: based on Westminster model to teach British institutions
  • Prefects system encourages leadership and respect for institutions.
  • Social Action Programme
  • Discussions of morality emerging from texts studied
  • DT: ‘6Rs’ – reduce, reuse, recycle, rethink, refuse and repair
  • DT: Sustainability in design
  • Humanities and Jewish Education: The Holocaust/WWII: What makes a good leader; Dilemmas of leadership.
  • Jewish Ed: Kashrut and ethical eating; circumcision and contraception, respect for parents; numerous other ethical dilemmas 

Social

  • Debate and Discussion (Machlocket) in Etz Limmud
  • Pluralism at heart of school ethos builds this notion
  • Y7 Avanti House Twinning
  • Alan Sennit Leadership Programme
  • Yoni Jesner, Manna from Heaven, D of E, Prefects system, GIFT
  • Israel trip includes interaction with Muslim and Arab students
  • Opportunities for buddying/mentoring
  • Autism Awareness Programme
  • Interfaith modules are a response to students’ requests
  • Books on other faiths in LRC
  • Humanities: The agricultural year: How this links with Religious and Social calendars.
  • Black History Month Assembly and displays, Nov 2014
  • Pluralism in Jewish Ed and across ethos
  • Study of Zionism and reactions to it, throughout Jewish Ed 

Cultural

  • Family History Project (JE, Y7)
  • Israel Trip Y9
  • MFL Assembly and activities
  • Student Parliament
  • “Is Britain Great” Drop-down day 2013
  • Big range of schools trips to cultural activities e.g. theatre trips, literary events, museum and gallery trips and projects
  • Promotion of reading in/out of lessons e.g. JCoSS Book Award, Carnegie Shadowing, weRead
  • Full range of sports teams
  • Students with cultural achievements out of school affirmed
  • 3 Faiths Forum involved in Interfaith Week
  • Fairtrade Fortnight marked
  • Local, National, Israel Charities chosen by students
  • Art, Humanities, Drama and Food curriculum draws on wide cultural influences
  • English draws on literacy heritage as well as exploring texts from other cultures
  • Wide range of books in LRC