Update from the Chair of Hasmonean Multi-Academy Trust Board

Dear Parents,

It is great to have all of the children back in school and as we approach Pesach, I’d like to give you a quick update.

As you would expect, the lockdown affected different families in different ways. Educationally we hit the ground running at the beginning of January and all in all the digital support that our schools provided worked really well; compared to many other schools/children we are in a really good place. Thank you to parents for your really positive feedback and support.

I mentioned back in January some of the investments that we have been making and during lockdown these really began to pay dividends:


  • Building Jewish Identity: The efforts of the HIPE informal ed team have been awesome. They proved a social and emotional lifeline for our children, and this will be even better now that we are back.
  • 21stCentury Teaching and Learning: The Chromebook roll-out, Google class and breakout rooms, and the training that we gave staff fundamentally changed the way students learned and kept the wheels on the bus. We have now appointed a number of Digital Learning Leads in different faculties, two Digital Co-ordinators to oversee them and a Senior Digital Lead to transform things further by pioneering the best teaching techniques and digital learning resources. This will consolidate our position as one of the leaders in the UK in harnessing ed tech for the good of our students.
  • Personal Spiritual Growth: We have appointed Rabbi Dov Birnbaum from SEED to make the Girls’ Midrasha a world leader in Jewish young women’s education. Additionally, we have appointed our very own and much-loved R Yehudah Hager to develop and lead a personal spiritual mentoring programme at the Boys’ school. It is so important that we are building individual one-to-one relationships, providing students with a listening ear and individual care and attention focussed on where they are at, supporting them as they grow and develop into young adults.

We can only do this if you continue to invest in our school. As of the end of February Chiyuv Chinuch contributions were £251k below where they need to be.

If you work with us, we can make Hasmonean an awesome place to learn and a nurturing environment that will build the foundation of our community. If you can pay your CCs in full and have yet to do so, please do so now. If you can’t pay in full, please pay what you can and prioritise the investment in your children’s education.

Finally, whilst we may be behind where we need to be we must still recognise the contribution of all those who give what they can. To this end the Hasmonean Charitable Trust are planning the launch of a great initiative to celebrate the success provided by your Chiyuv Chinuch support. Watch this space…..

Wishing you a chag kasher v’sameach,

Gary Swabel

Chair of Hasmonean Multi-Academy Trust Board



EDITORIAL 18/3/2021


Dear Parents,


As we come to the end of another extraordinary term – who would have thought that schools would have become testing centres?


I was thinking about what there is left to say about our situation. Then I went to the latest Bat Mitzvah celebration in school and heard the lovely song which the girls have written for their teachers. It says it all:


Lockdown is different

Distances between

School closed is not as simple as it seems

Hasmo’s always here

In me they believe

Together as a family, even virtually

Teachers help me to be brave, staff that makes me fight each wave

I don’t have to be afraid; they help me believe


Hasmo is my home

And wherever we’re from

We unite under the same sun

It is where we belong

School helps us be strong

As we face the unknown


You can call it Hasmo

They help when in need

And where should I be without your care for me

When drowning in an ocean, deeper than the sea

Our teachers make possible impossibility


Never was there a school

That the staff don’t back down

Hasmo’s pride is with me and I hope it always will

It’s Page Street our place

Just imagine a space

Where hate has been erased

It’s not hard if you try


Wishing you all a chag Pesach samech.

Best wishes,


Mrs K Brice

Headteacher – Girls’ School


Girls’ School – Virtual Music Concert

On the evening of Monday 15th March, the Music Department hosted a virtual concert with our talented girls. The concert opened with a serene performance simply called ‘Sarah’, followed by a spirited rendition of Mashiach!

There were two singers featured on the concert: one performed “This is Me” from the Greatest Showman and the other singer provided her own humorous lyrics to post-Covid based on Post Malone.

Five GCSE compositions were performed, ranging from piano solo pieces to full orchestral scores, with the standard being very high and offering a huge variety of styles and musical ideas. We were also taken on a virtual “holiday” after hearing a piano piece called Persian Holiday and then we “danced” to Disco Baroque and Twilight Tango, which was performed on the keyboard!

Many thanks go to our wonderful performers who did themselves proud, performing under such strange conditions. Thanks also go to Mr Michael Hattingh, for his coaching of so many of the students who performed, Mr M Tutty for his technical support and being the champion of Zoom, and to all those who supported the concert.


Rabbi Dov Birnbaum

Rabbi Dov Birnbaum of the SEED Shul in Edgware has just been appointed Director of the Midrasha at Hasmonean Girls’ School. He brings a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to the role, having previously run the annual SEED trip to Israel, worked with Rabbi Grunfeld and taught in Reb Zvi’s Yeshiva. Teaching in a girls’ school will be a new challenge, as he said ‘the most exciting part is the ability to lead the Midrasha into a new era of growth. The leadership of the school is very ambitious for what the Midrasha can achieve’. The Midrasha is designed to give students a wide knowledge of Jewish texts and the skills to look up sources and think about answers independently. Rabbi Birnbaum very much hopes that girls will come out of Hasmonean’s Midrasha with pride, excitement and confidence in their Judaism.

Return to School

And we’re back!

To be certain of a crisp start to the return to the live classroom, Hasmonean’s Leadership Team, with the help of support staff, began the testing programme in the first week of March. As a parent and a teacher, when I went into school with my daughter for her testing, and to collect my kit, I was impressed with the ease and organisation of this session. Students signed in and were given their swabs, which were duly swirled and dripped onto the test sticks. While I was there, the data so far indicated that all the girls had tested negative. This also suggests that while in lockdown, the students have been adhering to the Government guidelines – so well done to every single student!

Andrew McClusky CEO said of the start of the ‘new’ term: ‘The feedback that we have had from parents both about the education and support Hasmonean has provided through the various lockdowns has been wonderful. However, it is fantastic to have all of the pupils and teachers back in the building. The pandemic has really highlighted the true value of schools and just how important they are in giving students the foundations they need for their future lives. Headteachers Mrs Lebrett and Mrs Brice, together with our Senior Leadership Team and in-house testing teams have worked exceptionally hard to commence testing the week before school opened on March 8th. The logistics have worked very well and there has been a high uptake for the lateral flow testing. We have a small number of pupils who are exempt from wearing masks for medical reasons but we are expecting all of the other students to wear them.

Parents have been really appreciative of the online lessons, and were delighted that students returned to the classroom. One mother emailed to say; ‘Most importantly of all, they all went off to school this morning in a positive frame of mind, slightly nervous after such a long gap, but happy to be back in familiar surroundings, in a classroom environment and to see their friends in person again.’ The return has gone smoothly, even though one Year 11 student simply said ‘it was better than I expected’.

Being in school, hearing tannoy announcements summoning students to tests, seeing smiling eyes above masks and using Chromebooks as well as exercise books- this return has been powerful and positive… as long as we all keep testing negative!


Editorial 11/3/2021

One of the striking things about this week’s double sedra is that it is all very familiar! Indeed, we read about the Mishkan and the Bigdei Kehuna (clothes for the Kohanim) only two and three weeks ago. Why the exhaustive repetition?

The Ramban (Shemos 36,8) explains that there is a difference between instruction and action. First the Torah gives a general and then detailed command and that is followed by action and an account of the work itself and the finished product.

There is an important message here. Too often there is a disconnect between theory and practice, between instruction and action. Perhaps the long repetition of Vayakhel and Pekudei is to teach us this very point. That Judaism is not just a theology but a “Toras Chaim”, a very detailed, real and beautiful way of life.

This is a message that we try hard to live by at Hasmonean and instil in our students. One of the exciting additions to life in school in recent months has been the introduction of the HIPE teams at the boys’ and girls’ schools. Supplementing our kodesh provision, they have breathed a new dimension and energy into the corridors at Hasmonean. Together with our amazing Kodesh staff, they show that there is theory and practice, and that Torah is not just learned, but lived and loved.

I salute our wonderful HIPE educators and all our amazing kodesh staff and thank you all for supporting our Purim campaigns.

Good Shabbos

Rabbi Golker


Boys’ School Zoom Concert

Every year, Mrs Algranati organises a range of music concerts, and this year was no different…except the Boys’ School concert was held online! Fifteen boys performed a range of pieces for the 95 people online who attended to support this concert.

Some of our Year 11 boys showcased their own excellent compositions which is part of their GCSE coursework.

We were treated to a fabulous range of performances and instruments: piano, drums, saxophone, guitar, clarinet, and voice which created an interesting and diverse programme. All the boys rose to the challenge of a virtual performance and excelled themselves.

Thank you to Mr Hattingh who teaches the vast majority of the piano students who performed last night. Thank you also to Mr Tutty who was in charge of all the technical aspects of the concert and ensured the smooth running of the event.

Finally, thank you so much to Mrs Algranati, who strove to ensure that it was business as usual for the Music Department.

Editorial 4/3/2021

Dear Parents and Carers,

The return to school from March 8th for all students

We look forward to welcoming your children back to school!

We are aware that students will need to time to adjust to begin back in school and we will be arranging a series of pastoral and wellbeing session to support them to reintegrate. Training has also been given by Noa Girls on the language staff should use to support children during this process.

All students (who have consented/ whose parents have consented to be tested) should have received their first lateral flow test by the end of this week and will receive their next two lateral flow tests over the next two weeks once they return to school. After that, they will be given tests from us to test themselves at home. Any student who has a positive test result will need to report this to both us and NHS Track and Trace.

Please be aware that students – unless they are exempted for medical reasons – are required to wear face masks in lessons as well as in communal areas on their return to protect themselves, their families as well as staff and their families. We would very much appreciate it if you could ensure that your children come to school with a range of spare masks.

Both schools will have been deep-cleaned by the time your children arrive in school. The same social distancing measures and one way systems that were in place in September will remain in place and our risk assessments have been updated on the schools’ websites.

Please also see the letter from Mrs Lebrett and Mrs Brice with more detailed guidance regarding March 8th opening in the letters section for each school.

Families currently residing abroad

As mentioned last week, families who are currently residing abroad need to make arrangements for their children to return to school for when we re-open on March 8th. We have been advised by Barnet Local Authority that students need to return within a half term period for their children to remain on roll unless there are exceptional reasons that prevent them from doing so. Please could parents who are currently residing abroad let the relevant headteacher know their expected return date so that we can welcome their children back to school and ensure they remain on roll.

Alternative arrangements to examinations

As you are aware, Ofqual have announced the alternative arrangements for GCSE, BTEC and A level examinations following the public consultation.

We are still waiting to hear the details about the new arrangements from the examination boards and therefore cannot yet confirm the precise arrangements for students. However, subject to the exam boards’ guidance, our provisional plans are as follows:

  • Short assessments held after the Pesach break will form part of the overall evidence base that determines a student’s centre moderated grades alongside a selection of other assessments completed in class throughout the course
  • This will give students the best opportunity to demonstrate their skills and understanding of a representative sample of the material they have covered and enable their teachers to provide sufficient evidence to the examination boards of the grades that they we will submit for them
  • After the Pesach break, Year 11 and Year 13 students will be given a range of short assessments (except for textiles/ art and BTECs) in each of their subjects.
  • Teachers will not teach any new content to students from Monday March 15th at the latest until the 17th May while revision/ assessments take place
  • Students will be given the topics of each assessment in advance and time to prepare for those assessments
  • Wherever possible, students will be given a range of questions within each topic to choose from
  • Teachers will use lessons prior to the assessments as revision sessions
  • Each subject area will choose which assessments will best demonstrate students’ ability and count towards a student’s grade and which topics will be used for the short assessments
  • Y11 and Y13 will be given study leave (though Beis and the Midrasha will still run), with secular teachers available to support students who wish to see them either via G Suite or in person (dates to be confirmed)
  • Any access arrangements that would normally be given to students taking exams will be retrospectively taken into account when determining the mark of assessments taken in class throughout the course where this was not given at the time of the assessment
  • Special consideration will be given to students who require it according to the normal JCQ guidelines
  • Year 10s who are sitting GCSEs in RS and BH early will also be part of this process (and given some study leave)

We are sure that you will have many questions about this important topic when the guidance from the examination boards is published. Once we have received this guidance we will inform you and your children about our plans and take you through how we intend to implement it in more detail. However, we thought it best to share with you what our initial plans are based on Ofqual’s guidance.

Please be reassured that we will support students through each step of this process.

With kind regards,

Andrew McClusky – CEO – Hasmonean MAT

Debbie Lebrett – Headteacher – Boys’ School

Katherine Brice – Headteacher – Girls’ School


One of the unsung heroes of Hasmonean’s Covid operations is Debbie Lebrett, Headteacher at the Boys’ School. As the vaccination programme began to roll out, she began to research how to get as many teachers as possible vaccinated before the return to school on March 8th. Teachers began to receive emails asking them to send permission to share details, so that if any vaccines became available, they could ‘drop everything’ and get straight to a vaccination centre. Working with a small, dedicated crew of volunteer vaccinators, she was able to quickly learn of the availability of ‘spare’ vaccines and so protect the staff. Mrs. Lebrett was, and still is, in constant contact with surgeries and pharmacies to see if there are any leftover doses at the end of a session of vaccinations so that they can be offered to teachers.  So far, about 40 staff have been vaccinated thanks to her efforts and that number is rising.

As we move towards March 8th and the reopening of school in a physical sense, the confidence of staff to return has been enormously boosted knowing that they are all far less vulnerable to this awful illness.


HIPE (Hasmonean Informal Programmes & Education) is a new and exciting aspect of life at Hasmonean. Run by outstanding and vibrant educators, HIPE adds to the amazing kodesh programme and has rejuvenated the informal education.

HIPE UNITE was a crowd funding campaign run by HIPE, the informal department of Hasmonean boys’ and girls’ schools. The campaign made this year’s unusual Purim have an incredible buzz for all the students and indeed the community. The aim of HIPE UNITE was to UNITE our community virtually through Hasmonean students raising money for 19 key charities to counter COVID 19.

HIPE UNITE was launched at 6pm on 24 February with an initial target of £50,000 but ultimately raised over £160,000. Between students and staff, 321 teams were created, some of which used HIPE’s own amazing Purim Shpiel, which has gone viral, whilst others created their own spiels to send out to friends, family and other potential donors. In total over 4000 donors contributed to the various good causes. Through this campaign, 19 communal charities, which have been invaluable in helping so many during this pandemic, will receive vital funds to support them throughout the year. These charities include GIFT, Kef, Hatzola, Chai, Chana and Kisharon etc.

A trustee of KEF expressed delight in ”seeing the younger generation bringing charities together raising vital funds for so many charitable originations, in a revolutionary way. Despite 19 recipients each charity is still receiving a substantial donation so we can all continue to offer much needed services to our Kehila”.

Rabbi Golker, Manahel of Hasmonean commented: “The HIPE team have shown again that they are an exciting and essential part of life at Hasmonean. If this is what they can do in lockdown, I can’t wait to see their impact when we return to normal school life”.

It will be a virtual Purim that neither the students nor the charities will forget!

Speaking of virtual connection, HIPE did not just stop with the HIPE UNITE campaign. Every student received a HIPE UNITE Purim gift to emblazon cars and pavements with individual messages. Both the Girls and Boys HIPE staff organized online Purim celebrations. All of the girls enjoyed a virtual Purim party on Thursday night which included Dancing with Louise for Purim and an ‘Escape the Zoom’ game, as well as spiels from the teachers based on the mishaps of the Google classroom! The boys enjoyed a mind reader, a late-night pizza bake and a very special ‘’Hasmo’s Got Talent’’!

The final sum raised was a phenomenal £163,740! This was an incredible achievement on the part of the students, HIPE team and staff of the school. Thank you so much to all who contributed.

Chemistry Olympiad

Congratulations to Year 13 students Yoel (Gold), Zara (Silver) and Naftali (Bronze). They all achieved amazing success in January’s Chemistry Olympiad. This is a voluntary competition, which is performed under exam conditions.
Their achievement is phenomenal, especially as this took place during the stress of lockdown.