The Jewish community has every reason to be proud of our schools which, year after year, achieve exceptional results and are recognised in the national league tables as among the best in the country.
These results are only a small part of the story, as these tables only recognise the outcomes of our schools in secular studies, while ignoring the Jewish studies delivery, which is central to our schools’ curriculum.
Sadly, these aspects are not encompassed within the league tables, and are too often ignored when evaluating a school’s success.
There are many factors behind a successful school, but perhaps the most important is the staff, who work tirelessly to ensure the education of our children.
They are the ones who deserve the credit, not just for the academic results, but for the balanced and thoughtful graduates who benefit our society and are a credit to our community.
For many parents and children, what makes our schools great is the love and attention shown to the children.
It is this pastoral care that allows them to grow and flourish.
The Jewish Schools Awards is our opportunity to celebrate the excellence of our teachers and recognise their achievements. Produced by PaJeS (Partnerships for Jewish Schools) in association with Jewish News, the evening celebrates the exceptional achievements of the schools community.
This year awards were presented at primary and secondary level in four categories: an emerging teacher award, in their first three years of teaching award, a modern Hebrew teacher award, special educational needs educator award, and an assistant or deputy headteacher award. There was also a lifetime achievement award honouring Benjamin Perl MBE for his exceptional contribution to Jewish education.
It is a reflection of the respect and value we have for our teachers that more than 350 nominations were made for these awards.
Each nominee receives a certificate, and many schools hold their own ceremonies to celebrate their successes.
Last year a teacher told me it was the first time in more than 20 years that anyone had recognised her efforts – the nomination proving how important this recognition is.
For the finalists, the awards ceremony is a truly memorable event when, for one evening, the community unites to celebrate their achievements.
Every finalist is presented with a beautiful trophy and a certificate, and also receives a financial award.
The sponsors of the Jewish Schools Awards wanted to ensure that the event would have a lasting impact and help to support and encourage the raising of standards within our schools.
What better way can there be of achieving this than giving target funding to those teachers who have already been recognised as among the best and most inspirational teachers in our schools?
These teachers are encouraged to spend the award money on a project of their choosing within their school.
Last year’s winners have already launched a variety of initiatives and we look forward to similarly exciting developments in the coming year.
However, the awards provides an important message to us all. The intention of the Jewish Schools Awards is to instil the importance of saying thank you and celebrating the success of our schools and its teachers.
If we want to see our schools succeed, then we must learn the value of saying thank you.
Rabbi David Meyer is executive director of PaJeS (Partnerships for Jewish Schools)