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 Ofsted report?

You will find a copy of our last two reports at https://jcoss.org/about-us/ofsted-report

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 and A 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, 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 so that students can benefit from our unique Jewish Ethos, the state of the art security infrastructure and the extra facilities we provide.  We do not receive funding for these, therefore parental contributions are extremely important.  

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 visit which is not a compulsory part of the curriculum 
  • Board and lodgings on a residential school visit unless the student is in receipt of free school meals.  A voluntary contribution will be requested to cover the other aspects of the trip.
  • 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.
SEN

My child has a specific learning difficulty (for example, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia.) What support will be available for them?

If your child has a formal diagnosis of a condition which impacts on their learning, you must provide us with a copy of their professional diagnosis report. We will use the recommendations to create a ‘Pen Portrait’ for your child – this is a summary document which outlines your child’s diagnoses, strengths, needs and strategies for success.  This is circulated to all adults in school working with your child. In this way we ensure that strategies needed to support your child’s learning are put in place consistently across the school. 

Although a diagnosis alone does not require us to put additional resources in place for your child, as a school we are required to use our ‘best endeavours’ to meet the needs of all students. The needs of the majority of students with specific learning difficulties are met by teaching staff, through ‘Quality First’ teaching. Our capacity to provide additional support for individual students is extremely limited, and we prioritise students with the most complex learning needs and/or are not making adequate progress

How does JCoSS decide whether my child is making “adequate progress?”

We have clear, whole-school systems for monitoring and assessing all students, including those with SEN and additional needs, throughout the year and across the curriculum.  Students have a target for each subject, which is the level or grade they are expected to reach based on performance in the SATs/CATs tests carried out in Year 6.  Expected progress is determined nationally by the DfE.  There are four points throughout the school year at which student progress data is analysed and any students working below expectations are identified.  Interventions are put in place for these students, initially by individual subject faculties.  If a student continues to work below expected levels, they may receive additional support from the Learning Support faculty.

You can find more information about our ‘graduated approach to SEN support’ on pages 3 and 4 of our SEND policy: https://jcoss.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/JCoSS-SEND-Policy-March-2022-1.pdf

My child has access arrangements in place at their current/previous school. Will they continue at JCoSS?

We do not put exam access arrangements in place for students in Years 7 and 8, other than those with the most complex needs. In these exceptional circumstances exam access arrangements are agreed in conjunction with the SENCo. It is important that we gather evidence to form our own picture of need, beginning with evidence provided by JCoSS teaching staff. If we have evidence that a child has persistent and significant needs, we will consider whether access arrangements need to be put in place at JCoSS. This is done at the school’s discretion and may differ from what was in place in primary school because of the change in setting, and the requirement for secondary schools to comply with strict regulations set by the JCQ, which is an external body.  You can find out more about exam access arrangements and reasonable adjustments in our policy: 

https://jcoss.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/JCoSS-Access-Arrangements-and-Reasonable-Adjustment-Policy-Nov-2020-.pdf

My child uses a laptop at primary school, can they bring it to JCoSS?

Students do not use laptops in Year 7 except in exceptional circumstances.  Secondary school presents a number of organisational challenges that do not occur at primary school: students needs to carry their laptop from class to class, and take responsibility for printing and organising their work, and charging their laptop for use.  In our experience, students usually benefit from concentrating on other elements of transition before adding the further complication of a laptop.

My child is currently at ‘SEN Support’ and is withdrawn from lessons for intervention. Will JCoSS implement the same level of support as my child currently receives?

Students are only withdrawn from lessons in exceptional circumstances. We will use our ‘best endeavours’ to support your child as necessary but we will not guarantee that the same level or type of support will be put in place for them. This is due to the different ways that secondary schools are organised, and to the limitations of our school resources. 

My child needs an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). How can they get one?

A child’s parents, ideally in conjunction with their current school, can request that the child’s home Local Authority initiates an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment. The Local Authority will review the evidence submitted as part of the request and decide whether or not to initiate an assessment. Each Local Authority has a ‘parent partnership’ team who can offer advice and support for parents around this process.   If we agree with parents that a child who transfers to JCoSS in Year 7 needs an EHCP, we will not be able to make this request until they are in Year 8 at the earliest. This is because we need to provide evidence of the range and impact of the strategies that we have put in place for them before the request can be considered. It is therefore far preferable that children needing an EHCP have this in place before leaving primary school. Parents are able to request an assessment independently of a school, for example in instances where there is disagreement about the severity or complexity of a child’s needs, in which case the Local Authority will seek information from the school before considering whether or not to initiate an assessment. 

My child has an EHCP. Will JCoSS be able to meet their needs?

If your child has an EHCP and you would like them to be considered for a place at JCoSS, the Local Authority which issued their EHCP will initiate a consultation with us in the Autumn term preceding secondary transfer. This is the process by which we are asked to give our view as to our ability to meet a child’s needs, and although we do not make the decision, the Local Authority is required to give due consideration to our views. We do not engage with parents directly during this process although we are transparent with them and ensure that they are copied in to communications with the Local Authority. As part of the consultation process, your child’s home Local Authority will send us detailed information about your child and we will carefully consider this in determining whether or not we feel able to meet their needs. Responsibility for ensuring that provision is in place for a child rests with their home Local Authority. As the consultation process is based on documents provided by the Local Authority, it is essential that this documentation is fully up to date.   Annual Review meetings in Year 5 can be used to ensure that an EHCP accurately reflects a child’s current needs and the provision currently in place for them.

My child has an EHCP.  What support will they get at JCoSS?

Whilst JCoSS will endeavour to put in place the support outlined in Section F of an EHCP, the responsibility for this lies with the home Local Authority.  It is essential that Section F accurately details the provision required to meet the needs of your child.  For example, arrangements for Speech and Language therapy after transition to secondary school need to be clearly outlined in order for therapy to continue.  

My child currently works with one assistant. Will this continue at JCoSS?

No, 1:1 support is not usually provided by one adult at JCoSS.  We take a team approach such that LSAs are organised into year teams and different adults will work with your child across the week.  This approach promotes independence by avoiding over-reliance on individual staff members, and ensures some consistency when staff members change role.  Many LSAs at JCoSS are graduates seeking work experience with young people before moving onto the next stage of their careers, which leads to frequent staff changes.

My child is struggling with mental health difficulties. How will they be supported at JCoSS?

At primary school, children with mental health needs might be supported by the SENCo or teaching assistant. In a secondary school, aside from students whose mental health needs arise from their SEN, students with mental health needs are supported by the pastoral team rather than by the Learning Support Department. The first point of contact will be your child’s form tutor. 

I’m worried about my child at break and lunchtime. How will they be supported?

JCoSS has a dedicated playground for Year 7 students only. We do not provide supervision for individual students during these times but there is a safe, quiet space available for SEN students. 

I’m really worried about my child’s transition to secondary school.  How will you help them manage? 

There are a number of opportunities to get to know the school before starting in September.  Students visit for CATs day one Sunday in the summer term (see below).  They also visit with the rest of the year group for an induction day in July, when they will meet their form group and tutor, look around the school, and attend some taster lessons.  Students who are the only child at their primary school coming to JCoSS will be invited to a small group afternoon before the Induction Day, so they have will be able to recognise some familiar faces on the day.  We may invite individual students for additional visits if we think this is necessary. 

Does my child have to come for CATs day if they have SEN?

Yes.  CATS day is an opportunity for students to familiarise themselves with JCoSS and get to know some staff and students.  Although it is a test day, the atmosphere is relaxed.  There are no access arrangements for CATS; the purpose of the tests is to ascertain a “raw score” for each child’s attainment level.  It is important this reflects their true ability, without assistance.  

My child did not get a place in the PSRP.  Shall I ask the Local Authority to name JCoSS main school instead?

The level of provision offered by a specialist Autism Resource Provision (ARP) such as the PSRP is far higher than that offered in the main school, which has the same resources as any other mainstream secondary school.  Mainschool students do not have any access to the facilities of the PSRP, regardless of their needs.   If you applied to the PSRP because your child requires the additional level of provision available in an ARP, it is unlikely their needs can be met by the main school.  Therefore, if your application to the PSRP was unsuccessful, you should consider applying to other ARPs, rather than applying to the main school.

You may find our letter to parents ‘SEN Applications to JCoSS: PSRP or Main School?’ helpful in explaining the differences between both settings. You can find it here: https://jcoss.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/SENApplications-to-JCoSS-April-2019.pdf  

My child has medical needs but they don’t have an EHCP.  How will they be supported?

Students with medical needs are supported by the Student Service team, not the Learning Support faculty.  They will ensure your child has an Individual Health Care plan and liaise with you regarding medication etc.

Can I meet with the SENCo/Learning Support team at JCoSS before a place for my child is confirmed?

No.  The Learning Support faculty does not have capacity to meet with prospective families.  

JCoSS is a Barnet school but my child’s EHCP is maintained by a different Local Authority.  Does this make a difference?

The home Local Authority is responsible for the provision outlined in your child’s EHCP.  It is important to ensure that the EHCP clearly specifies the provision for therapies such as Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language Therapy.  Your case officer should advise you as to how the Local Authority intends to deliver this provision in an out-of-borough school; for example, some Local Authority send their therapeutic staff to JCoSS, while others commission independent practitioners to deliver provision on their behalf.

 

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.