As the term officially ends for the Pesach break I write to wish you Chag Sameach and to offer some bits of good news that have been building up over recent weeks. We decided not to try and bring a conventional newsletter together in the circumstances, but here are a few things to enjoy:
18 under 18
Many of you will have seen the coverage of this initiative by the Jewish News and the JLC, and we were delighted to see so many JCoSS students nominated and very proud that 3 current students and one former student included in the final 18 names. The full coverage can be seen here, with citations on the wonderful achievements and Menschlike qualities of these individuals. We send huge if belated public congratulations to
Evie Leibling Blitz (Y13), Jamie Gladstone (Y13), Ruben Persey (Y11) and Elisheva Landau-Pope (Y13 who left us in 2017 for Brampton College) who were all judged to be in the top 18 nationally for their contributions to public life in the Jewish community and beyond. This is a highly significant achievement. We also congratulate Ben Conway and Joel Alexander (Y13) and Jamie Smokler (Y12) who were in the list of just 61 nominees from across the country, in both Jewish and non-Jewish schools. We are proud of them all.
Without the public recognition, I also want to pay tribute to those students in Year 13 who are making use of their unexpected free time to volunteer in support of the national response to Coronavirus. We do not have a complete list but I know that Daniel Clayman, Jamie Gladstone and Daniel Sacks are either volunteering for Jewish Care or have taken on jobs in supermarkets. I express the pride and gratitude of the JCoSS community to them all too.
Students in the News
Virtual religious services are becoming familiar to many of us as leaders or participants, but members of the JCoSS community were among the pioneers! You may not have seen coverage of Yuval Jacobs’ barmitzvah.
Because the shul was closed, his parents invited guests to watch him read the Haftorah on Zoom. One of the guests was another JCoSS parent who worked with colleagues at BBC news to turn it into a piece that ran on news bulletins and can still be seen on the BBC website.
Head Student Team…and Instagram
Our Year 12 Student Leadership Team have risen to challenge of the current crisis with a new Instagram account jcoss_hst which is now live. This is an entirely student led initiative, under the guidance of Ms Raven, which will focus on interactive quizzes, videos of the team doing their daily routine, ideas of activities to entertain, recipes, sporting ideas etc – including contributions from one of the team who is currently in Israel. It will be updated daily at ‘break time’ (11.00 am or thereabouts) even over the holidays to help combat the sense of isolation that we are all facing. I commend it to you and to students and hope it will attract lots of followers and be supportive of us all! While you (or – demographically more likely – your children…) are on Instagram they may also like to see jcoss_artstudio which will feature student work and links to artists, virtual galleries and ideas of activities for students to view.
It is hard to keep up with the accolades the school has received (did I mention the Sunday Times Greater London Secondary School of 2020?) but we have recently been notified of another six. These are from SSAT, a highly regarded group of schools nationally, who judged that JCoSS was
1. among the best performing non-selective secondary schools and 6th forms in the country
2. in the top 10% nationally for attainment at Key Stage 4
3. in DfE Band 1 for student progress at key stage 4
4. in the top 10% nationally for student attainment at Key Stage 5
5. significantly higher than national average for student progress in academic subjects at Key Stage 5
6. significantly higher than national average for student progress in applied general subjects at Key Stage 5
These awards are based on the results of our students last Summer, underlining our outstanding track record of success in public examinations. Since that track record will help Exam Boards to decide on grades for the current Year 11 and 13 candidates in the absence of exams this summer, it is very helpful to us all! As always I salute with enormous gratitude the phenomenal hard work of my colleagues in supporting students to these excellent results, and of congratulate those students and their families (now in Year 12 and ‘Year 14’) on securing this accolade.
And so the most extraordinary fortnight in the School’s history draws to a close. I thank everyone – students, parents, governors and above all my colleagues, for the patience, creativity, resilience and love they have shown in responding to the roller coaster of events. Beneath it all is of course a serious illness, and a number of members of the wider JCoSS community are suffering – indeed there have been some bereavements too and I know you will join me in sending condolences to all those families, and them wishing long life. As the Jewish community prepares for a new kind of Seder night and a Pesach like no other before (and as I go off to prepare Holy Week and Easter services in similar vein) I pray that we may all find rest and re-creation in the coming fortnight, and look forward fervently to the liberation we all yearn for.
I am suggesting to colleagues that they turn on ‘out of office’ notifications so that we all get a proper break. We will, however, of course be checking in from time to time, so please be in touch with urgent and important matters so that we can offer support where it is needed.
Term ‘restarts’ on Monday 20 April: I will not promise a return to life as normal, but do hope something like that might be possible before too long.
With very best wishes to you all