Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has praised the religious education service Pikuach, describing it as “an absolute blessing for our schools”.
Speaking at a ceremony in London to celebrate both the 20th anniversary of Pikuach as the UK’s only accredited Jewish inspection service and the graduation of new inspectors, Rabbi Mirvis added that Pikuach Director Jeffrey Leader had been “an incredible source of inspiration for our community at so many different level”.
Board President Jonathan Arkush told the 50 attendees at the ceremony that Pikuach had been developed as the only accredited Jewish inspection service. He said: “In 1996 Pikuach was a Board initiative and it remains a Board initiative and the Board is very proud to have it on behalf of the community.”
Ofsted’s Director of Education Sean Harford said it was “an honour and a privilege to present graduation certificates to newly qualified Pikuach inspectors”. He had special praise for Pikuach’s training for Sikh as well as Jewish inspectors saying this “was something to celebrate”.
Jeffrey Leader told the audience how the fledgling Jewish inspection service had been conceived by Laurie Rosenberg, the Education Officer at the Board, who put together a Pikuach Development Team, most of whom were present at the ceremony. The service had carried out almost 200 inspections. He added that he was proud of his team of 30 inspectors all of whom were now or had been senior educational professionals and more than 75% of the current inspection team were now or had been either headteachers or deputy headteachers of Jewish schools.
He said: “Our Inspection Handbook is heavily based on a regulatory Ofsted model and we need to move closer to the kind of faith-based model favoured by our Church of England and Catholic colleagues. What I mean by this is we need to try to find out, through inspection, the impact that Jewish education makes on a child’s life. The children we speak to might be able to answer the knowledge based-questions but a knowledgeable Jew isn’t necessarily a committed Jew.”
The evening was chaired by Pikuach Chair Joan Jacobs and a vote of thanks was given by Board Vice President Sheila Gewolb.