Our school is fully committed to a Zionist, modern-orthodox education. The Secular and Limmudei Kodesh teams work closely together to ensure a consistent approach to learning, behaviour management and Jewish values. To that end, the two curricular compliment each other as much as possible and there are many instances of cross-curricular teaching.
Jewish studies lessons are taught in Ivrit, the most distinctive characteristic of our Limmudei Kodesh programme. Shlichim are brought from Israel to teach and support this ethos, as well as providing an authentic Israeli atmosphere in our school. We believe that Modern Hebrew is the best vehicle to facilitate the skills required to independently comprehend Biblical texts. To that end, we introduce the children to Modern Hebrew from the Nursery since studies show that the younger a child is immersed in a second language, the more effective the results.
There are approximately two hours of Jewish Studies a day in each class.
General Outline of our Curriculum
In Key Stage 1, we focus on literacy skills, parasha stories, Shabbat and Chagim. Towards the end of this Key Stage, we introduce basic Chumash textual skills.
In Key Stage 2 we mainly focus on textual texts. Using their Modern Hebrew skills, children learn to identify key vocabulary in Biblical texts, grammatical rules such as prefixes and suffixes, are acquainted with various commentators and become more independent learners. We also cover major halachic topics such as Shabbat, the calendar, Tefilla and Kashrut. In Parasha lessons, the children learn Parshanim and Midrashim, in addition to the basic story. The children also begin to learn Mishna and Gemara, in preparation for Secondary school.
The school’s commitment to the inclusion of all pupils in the Kodesh B’Ivrit programme has lead to a well staffed Kodesh support team. Each teacher is supported in class by a support teacher and a Bat Sherut and we advocate early intervention to diagnose and deal appropriately with any learning needs. This ensures that every child is given equal access to the curriculum. The Kodesh Senco produces a provision map to ensure that all needs are addressed where appropriate. The children on the provision map are monitored closely and support is adapted as and when appropriate. As well as receiving support in class, children may be withdrawn in small groups or individually to work on specific skills. We are also aware that they may be children for whom the mainstream curriculum may not be sufficiently challenging and we also accommodate for their needs with extension activities.
Lessons include a variety of teaching methods to ensure that all learning styles are catered for.
Monitoring and Assessment
Staff ensure that all pupils progress and allocate individual targets to every child on a termly basis. These targets are discussed on a regular basis with the Head of Kodesh or SENCo and where appropriate, targets are taken from IEPs.
We treat every pupil as one child and therefore all Limmudei Kodesh staff are involved in IEP reviews and provide relevant feedback in meetings.
Formal assessments are carried out three times a year from Year 1. These are based on skills taken from the curriculum which is reviewed and updated on an annual basis. The department uses LK Level Descriptors which mirror the National Curriculum levels in order to ascertain the child’s level and ensure that appropriate provision is in place.
The results give an overview of general class progress, inform staff of particular needs and also determine the specific statistics of the class population. Examples of work and assessments can be found in individual portfolios which track each child’s progress throughout the school.
We also produce a class spreadsheet to indicate class attainment and areas of strength or weakness both class-wide and on an individual basis.
Promoting Jewish Values and Practices
We have a strong moral ethos in our school and endeavour to incorporate this into our daily life. We promote Derech Eretz, meaning respect towards everyone and everything. Our overriding school rule “Ve’ahavta le’reyacha Kamocha,” exemplifies this. We have a Tzedaka Committee run by the children who direct and set monthly targets for specific causes. Children are encouraged to donate tzedaka on a regular basis. We also have links with organizations in the community where children are involved in specific initiatives. Children often visit old-age homes before Jewish festivals.
We constantly promote Jewish practice, whereby boys are expected to wear a kippa and tzitztit at all times. All children are expected to daven Shacharit in school and a Tefilla curriculum is in place to learn the meaning of the tefillot and progress in terms of content. Children in Key Stage 2 are also expected to daven Mincha and participate in communal tefilla on Monday mornings and Rosh Chodesh which includes laining by Key Stage 2 boys. There is also a minyan on Sunday morning before school for fathers and children. Bracha Acharona is said after morning break and Birkat Hamazon is recited after lunch. We ensure that these practices occur also during outings and fun days.
We ensure that home and school provide a consistent approach as we try to create a genuine festival atmosphere throughout the year, as well as practising relevant Mitsvot on a regular basis.
Various clubs are run throughout the week to allow children an opportunity to extend their skills or demonstrate their strengths. These include, Extra Gemara on Sunday mornings, spoken Ivrit, Bat Mitzvah sessions and an Ivrit choir. During the summer term we also hold a Seuda Shelishit and Chabura on Shabbat with special guest speakers.
We support and accommodate the learning needs of past pupils who have transferred to secondary school and wish to continue progressing in enriching their Modern Hebrew and LK as taught in the IJDS.
Links with Parents
We take every opportunity to share information with parents by writing a weekly newsletter which ensures constant communication between home and school. Parents are invited to learning sessions with their children on a monthly basis.
Once a month we hold a Horim Veyeladim (parents and children) evening learning session and a Sunday morning Gemara breakfast Shiur for fathers and children.
In Key Stage 2, family learning booklets are sent home over long holidays to encourage parents and children to study together. Kodesh staff are happy to assist parents who require additional support with Ivrit.