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20 Years of Pikuach: A celebration of the Jewish schools inspectorate

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Yesterday evening saw leading lights of the Jewish educational community descend on ORT House to celebrate two decades of Pikuach, the Jewish community’s only accredited school’s inspectorate.

Director of Pikuach, Jeffrey Leader, reflected on the low regard reserved for the Jewish Studies discipline in the days before inspection, with teachers left waiting at empty tables during Parents Evenings. Since then, highly-trained inspectors have regulated the quality of teaching by grading each school’s performance against set criterion, in this way transforming the discipline’s reputation and instilling in Jewish students a stronger sense of their own identity.

The Chief Rabbi’s response was one of immense gratitude, lauding Pikuach as “an absolute blessing for our community.” He reflected on the vitality of subjectivity when judging pedagogical practices, saying that “the only person who can judge a situation well is he or she who is somewhat removed from it. For 20 years it [Pikuach] has opened our eyes to our strengths and our weaknesses.”

An awards ceremony concluded the evening, as both newly-qualified Pikuach and Sikh faith school inspectors – who have also received training from the Jewish inspectorate – were presented with certificates. Ofsted and Board of Deputies’ representatives were also among guest speakers.