Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has wished Jewish schools a “well-earned break over the summer”, after being partially closed for the past few months due to the coronavirus pandemic. The video was created as part of a collaboration with the Board of Deputies, who work closely with the Department of Education on policy matters affecting the Jewish community.
Acknowledging the incredibly hard work that schools have been carrying out in preparing to reopen in September, the Education Secretary said to pupils: “your school will be working really hard to prepare for your return in September and will be taking all the steps necessary to keep you and your classmates safe. It is also really important that you return to school – it is the very best place for you to be, so that you can carrying on learning and be with your friends and teachers.”
The Education Secretary also reflected on the “respect, kindness and compassion” that faith schools can promote, noting that “these qualities are so important in getting us through the frustrations and setbacks that are part of our lives and this has never been more relevant than it is now.”
The video was created to mark the anniversary of the first Jewish MP, Lionel de Rothschild, taking up his seat in the House of Commons. Rothschild was only permitted to take his seat 11 years after being first elected in 1847. The Education Secretary said that “the anniversary of his election is next Sunday, and we will be remembering how he changed British history by tackling discrimination and promoting diversity. I believe schools have a vital role to play in teaching tolerance, respect and inclusion, and I am pleased that in our country we are blessed with an extraordinary diversity of schools.”
Board of Deputies Vice President Edwin Shuker sent his own message of thanks to teachers, parents and pupils in Jewish schools in the video, saying “we know that they have been working incredibly hard to continue teaching and learning – which is something our community holds so dear. We cannot thank you enough for all that you do.”