New Pikuach handbook ‘music to my ears’, says Chief Rabbi at online launch event

The new Pikuach inspection handbook was officially launched on Tuesday evening, with over 80 people from across the field of Jewish education joining the online Zoom event.

Director of Pikuach Jeffrey Leader provided an overview of the new changes in the inspection framework, focusing on how a new module on Jewish Spiritual Development will be at the focus of Pikuach inspections. Jeffrey reflected that “All teachers rabbis inspectors need to work together to ensure the continuation of a vibrant, committed Jewish community. But we strongly believe that you can only do so by adding spiritual depth to all aspects of Jewish learning.”

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis was guest of honour for the evening, and he reflected that “with our hearts, we must feel what we have studied” and that “emotion is crucially important to us in our learning… This is the focal point of the new handbook – it’s all about Jewish education, but recognises the place of the hearts of our children within that process.” Chief Rabbi Mirvis said that new Pikuach handbook is “music to my ears, and should be music to the ears of everyone in British Jewry right now. I am so proud of our excellent Jewish teaching staff in all of our schools across the country.”

Other speakers at the event, chaired by Pikuach’s Chair Jonathan Miller, included Vice President Designate of the Methodist Conference Barbara Easton, and National Director of Ofsted Chris Russell. Barbara reflected on the new section in the handbook, saying that “in a world that binds us to the material, the spiritual element to education invites us to consider the beyond.”

Ofsted National Director Chris Russell congratulated Pikuach, praising the strong relationship that the inspectorate has with Ofsted. Chris said that Pikuach helps to “ensure that the unique role that faith plays in England’s schools is properly considered… Ofsted’s work and the work of section 48 inspectorates like Pikuach complement each other, in supporting and understanding the different aspects to school life – and we are very excited about the launch of your new framework.”

Board of Deputies Vice President Edwin Shuker provided a vote of thanks to all who had made the handbook possible, and paid tribute to the Jewish community’s schools. “The Board of Deputies is so proud and privileged to be associated with Pikuach, and we would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the process of the new handbook”.

Like Ofsted, Pikuach has postponed its inspections until 2021. Director of Pikuach Jeffrey Leader indicated that given recent government announcements about new restrictions, that the resumption of inspections may be pushed back until the summer term 2021. Any future announcements about this will be shared with schools in the coming weeks.

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