Governance: Jewish Community Academy Trust
The Head of Religion, Philosophy and Ethics at St Helen's School has since February 2018 been a Trustee of the Jewish Community Academy Trust, with particular responsibility for Religious Education and Jewish Studies. He is a member of the Trust's Evaluation and Assessment Committee. He has been working with staff at each of the four primary schools within this proposed Multi-Academy Trust to review their curriculum and educational aims. His primary focus is currently the Jewish ethos of the four schools and to evaluate whether the curriculum and wider aspects of the schools within the Trust meet the goals set.
JCAT seeks to provide synergies among Jewish schools in the community that are often relatively small local schools that on their own are vulnerable to financial challenges, staffing shortages and demographic changes.
The project is part of wider governmental moves to set up multi-academy trusts to help facilitate the synergies outlined above and offer an extra layer of expertise in the running of the schools. The roots of the project stem from three years ago but has been fully operational for the past year.
The focus will be on two areas. First, a larger organization creates career paths and opportunities that are not available within a group of uncoordinated smaller schools. This is especially important for teachers of subjects like art and music and for teachers of students with special educational needs. While small schools might not be able to afford specialists in these areas, a consortium of schools could share the cost.
Second, professional learning can be more effective when there is a management structure to ensure that new skills can be effectively propagated around an organisation. Individual schools may have quality teachers, but their small management teams leave limited capacity to diffuse or retain their knowledge. This can be more effectively achieved through centralized leadership. JCAT will therefore serve as a professional learning network (PLN) for teachers. While there are already virtual PLNs that support teacher collaboration across different schools, JCAT will have the ability to maintain a robust package of professional learning within a Jewish environment.
The JCAT currently works with four co-educational primary schools.
JCAT is ongoing, with regular meetings of the Trustees and associated committees.