With keeping a school running through a pandemic, educating over 1300 students, managing staff and undertaking his role as an ordained Church of England Priest, Mr Moriarty is a very busy man. So, we were delighted to be given a few minutes to interview our headteacher about JCoSS’s past, present and future.
How has JCoSS changed in ten years?
PM: JCoSS gets better every year. When we opened, there were only 150 students and we now have 1332 and similarly, we had 15 teachers and now we have over 150 staff. I think JCoSS is now a more vibrant, exciting and self-confident place than it was in 2010, partly because there are older students and partly because as we have gone along, we have developed our own voice.
Where do you see JCoSS in the next 10 years?
PM: I hope that we will still be as good as we are, if not even better. I think we may have some more buildings. I hope that we will have some of our alumni (old students) coming back and sharing their experiences with us, with some even becoming members of staff. I also hope that we will be famous throughout the country!
How did your school life differ from JCoSS School life?
PM: I was at a private boys’ school, which had great facilities. However, I think we had a very different relationship with our teachers. They were more distant. Here, there is more friendliness and openness with staff and much more emphasis on wellbeing and on student voice.
What is the one thing you wish you knew about running a school when you became a Headteacher?
PM: One thing I wish I had known is how much fun it is. It is hard work and there are a million different things to do but the variety of challenges that I can deal with during a single day is great. Having a great team around me means we have so much more fun, more than I would ever have imagined.
What has been your highlight of the last 10 years at JCoSS?
PM: It is difficult to decide: the first day we opened was a highlight; the point where we got our first sixth formers in; the summer of 2017, when we achieved our first GCSE results and we opened our vocational provision in the sixth form, and then last year being awarded The Sunday Times Award for the Best State school in London.
What makes you most proud about JCoSS?
PM: The combination of all the awards and accolades that we have and the way we deal with inclusion and our community spirit.
What was the most challenging thing about running a new school?
PM: The constant change and doing something different every year for seven years was challenging. However, every year comes with its new challenges to contend with. This year a pandemic, who knows what it will be next year!
If you taught a subject, what subject would you teach?
PM: Religious Studies. That is what I have taught for the whole of my teaching career. Even here, I have taught some Jewish Education, which is quite interesting as a Christian priest.
How has it been running a Jewish school as a Christian priest?
PM: Wonderful. What I find all the time, is the more I discover about Judaism, the more I explore my own Christian faith and Christian priesthood. In JCoSS, we equally value all denominations of Judaism so, nobody can say to me that you are siding with the reform or the orthodox or progressive because I am none of these.
It ought to feel weird, but it has never ever felt weird. It has always just felt that this it the right place for me to be and the conversations that I have had with Jewish colleagues, friends and students that I have met here have been really profound, so I have enjoyed every minute of that aspect.
What has been the most important thing that you have learnt whilst being at JCoSS?
PM: I think the best way to lead an organisation is not to try to be the kind of leader that you are not, and instead, to focus on the kind of leader that you are. Try to be the best you can be rather than trying to be someone else whom you are not.
Thank you, Mr Moriarty, you are truly inspirational and a role model for JCoSS students and thank you for undertaking the Headteacher’s Question Time, December 2020.
By Milly Bryk, Ofira Brunert, Dana Thomas