Editorial 26/11/2020

Dear Parents,

I am delighted to announce that, after a long wait, our Chromebooks have started to arrive. A global shortage of these devices meant that we had to source new suppliers for many of the devices. Had we not done so, we would have had to wait until February for most of them to arrive from our original supplier. The additional costs incurred for the same devices with the same specification have been covered by the schools. Heartfelt thanks to those parents who paid for some of the children whose families could not afford to buy Chromebooks to receive them. If other families would like to sponsor further Chromebooks, please do contact the Headteachers to let us know.

We should have all of the Chromebooks that have been ordered in school by the end of this week and we will be spending next week registering them to their new owners and uploading software onto them. We hope to be able to hand them over to students very soon.

Once students have their devices, teachers will then be able to start using them in lessons to experiment with new pedagogical approaches and to introduce a variety of different apps to enhance students’ learning and augment more traditional approaches to classroom learning. It will also mean that students are well-equipped to access learning from home both outside of school time and during school time should they need to self-isolate.

We are also now about to advertise roles to take charge of and implement our digital learning strategy. The aim is to:

1. Harness the very best practice from other schools in this country and abroad
2. Cascade blended leaning through our learning areas
3. Curate a bank of digital resources within each learning area
4. Support all staff members with training and development

This will, with further staff training and development, enable us to build on our learning during lockdown and, over time, achieve our ambition of transforming our provision.

On a separate note, I would like to apologise for the frustration that some parents had at the online Year 12 and 13 Boys’ parents evening. The provider of the platform to enable parents and teachers to meet experienced a technical glitch which regrettably prevented some teachers from joining meetings for part of the evening. Alternative meetings are being arranged to ensure that those parents can be updated about their children’s progress. We are also reviewing the meetings to ensure parents and teachers have a sufficient time for discussion.

With kind regards,

Andrew McClusky
CEO, Hasmonean MAT

Editorial 18/11/2020

Dear Parent,

Due to the increase in cases of COVID-19 within schools, we would like to remind you of our procedures if your child develops symptoms or tests positive, as well as the guidance from Public Health England, with whom we are working closely.

Current Restrictions
In general, you must not meet with another person socially or undertake any activities with another person. However, you can exercise or meet in a public, outdoor space with people you live with, your support bubble (or as part of a childcare bubble), or with one other person.

You should minimise time spent outside your home. When around other people, stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household – meaning the people you live with – or your support bubble. Where this is not possible, stay 1 metre apart with extra precautions (e.g. wearing a face covering).

You must not meet socially indoors.

What to do if your child develops symptoms of COVID 19
If your child develops symptoms of COVID-19, they must not come to school and should remain at home for at least 10 days from the date when their symptoms appeared. You must inform the school by contacting Mrs S Fine at the Boys’ School (s.fine@hasmonean.co.uk) or Mrs M Palmer (m.palmer@hasmonean.co.uk) at the Girls’ School, who will then advise you how to proceed and the date of your child’s return to school.

• Anyone with symptoms will be eligible for testing and this can be arranged via https://www.nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.
• All other household members who remain well, must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. This includes anyone in your ‘Support Bubble’.
• Further information is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection
• The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.
• Household members should not go to work, school or public areas and exercise should be taken within the home.
• If you require help with buying groceries, other shopping or picking up medication, or walking a dog, you should ask friends or family. Alternatively, you can order your shopping online and medication by phone or online.
• Household members staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community.
• If you are able, move any vulnerable individuals (such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period.

What to do if your child tests positive for COVID 19
If your child receives a positive COVID-19 test, we are asking parents to use the link on our website or the link here: https://forms.gle/AvbtNEunDx4MrM9A8 to inform us. All information will be dealt with confidentially.

We will use the information gathered from the form to contact identified students to let them know that they must isolate and also advise you of your child’s return date.

Symptoms
The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of:
• a new continuous cough
• a high temperature
• a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)
Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms.

For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness.

If your child does develop symptoms, you can seek advice from the nhs.uk website at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/check-if-you-have-coronavirus-symptoms/. If you are concerned about your child’s symptoms, or they are worsening you can seek advice from NHS 111 at https://111.nhs.uk/ or by phoning 111.

How to stop COVID-19 spreading
There are things you can do to help reduce the risk of you and anyone you live with getting ill with COVID-19

Do
• wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
• use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
• wash your hands as soon as you get home
• cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
• put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards

Further Information
Further information is available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Yours sincerely

Hasmonean Multi-Academy Trust

Editorial 12/11/2020

Dear Parents,

This week has been an extremely sad one for the entire Jewish community. The news about the passing of both Rav Dovid Feinstein o’’h and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks o’’h culminated in a collective outpouring of grief from the Jewish world. People have felt individually and profoundly affected: these were two shining examples of personalities having a huge impact, far beyond their own countries. In fact, far beyond their own religious sphere.

It has been profound and humbling to read the moving statements which have been released from so, so many members of British society following this week’s news about the passing of Rabbi Lord Sacks. The Hasmonean community are planning our own programme of reflection which will take place at the end of the sheloshim period. More details to follow.

It is very pertinent that this week’s parsha starts with discussing the life of Sarah; it is clear that she had a powerful impact over her family during her life and over our entire nation to this day. She raised Yitzchak during his formative years, nurturing him to become a future Jewish leader. Interestingly, the parsha begins with the death of Sarah but it is her legacy which she left behind which dominates the narrative. In the words of Rabbi Lord Sacks, in his own commentary of the parsha: ‘It is future-orientation that defines Judaism as a faith…First build the future. Only then can you mourn the past.’

Yours sincerely,

Mrs D Lebrett
Headteacher
Hasmonean High School for Boys

Editorial 5/11/2020

Dear Parents,

When is the first time the word אהבה (love) appears in the Torah?

The answer is this week’s parsha: קַח נָא אֶת בִּנְךָ אֶת יְחִידְךָ אֲשֶׁר אָהַבְתָּ אֶת יִצְחָק. Hashem instructs Avraham to take his son Yitzchak, “whom you love” and offer him up as a sacrifice.

The second time the word אהבה is used in the Torah is in next week’s parsha: וַיִּקַּח אֶת רִבְקָה וַתְּהִי לוֹ לְאִשָּׁה וַיֶּאֱהָבֶהָ. Yitzchak marries Rivka and “loves her”.

The third time the word אהבה is used in the Torah is in the parsha after that in describing the love of Yitzchak and Rivka for their children:וַיֶּאֱהַב יִצְחָק אֶת עֵשָׂו … וְרִבְקָה אֹהֶבֶת אֶת יַעֲקֹב.

My brother-in-law Rabbi Jeremy Finn has recently published another wonderful sefer on the Parsha. He cites Rabbi YY Jacobson who makes an insightful and powerful observation.

As Yitzchak had been the recipient of love, he knew how to love others. Since Avraham had shown love to Yitzchak, Yitzchak was able to show love to Rivka and because she received her husband’s love, she, in turn, was able to love her son Yaakov.

The Torah is teaching us that if we want our children to grow up as loving, productive and well-balanced members of society, we need to show them love. Our children will not know how to love unless they have experienced being loved.

This needs effort and needs us to be proactive in our relationships. Showing our children that we love them will not only build them, but will help them in their relationships too.

Wishing you all a wonderful Shabbos.

Rabbi J Golker
Menahel

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Dear Parents,

As you are aware, we have a number of students who are having to self-isolate at the two schools.

We have been trialling hardware such as graphic tablets, headsets and webcams to help teachers deliver lessons to students isolating at home. Our order of these items has now arrived and we would like to train all teachers in how to use it so that more of them have the facility to livestream their lessons to those who are isolating.

To this end, we would like to close the schools to students at 2.45 pm on Tuesday next week so that staff can be trained period 7/8 before the Year 11 boys’ parents’ evening. It will mean that most students miss one lesson as there are very few period 8 lessons on that day.

We are confident that the net impact on education will be positive as the training will enable more teachers to be ready and able to livestream lessons.

We are expecting the Chromebooks which parents have ordered to arrive in November. We make regular enquiries about a delivery date but have not yet received one. When we have, we will update you accordingly.

With sincere thanks in anticipation of your understanding in this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Mr A McClusky
CEO, Hasmonean MAT

 

Editorial 29/10/2020

Dear Parents,

The relentless nature of the bad news which surrounds us is like the autumn storms which seem to buffet us from all sides. It can be hard to keep cheerful in such circumstances and to show the resilience which we try to inculcate in our children. So this week I thought we should concentrate on the little things: smiling above the mask, stopping for an extra moment to see how someone else is, sharing in the joy of a new baby or an engagement. We all need to live more in the moment and to take pleasure and sustenance from what is happening now and not to worry too much about what the future may bring. The Year 7’s took huge pleasure from their achdus trips and the chance to do fun activities together.

Undoubtedly this is a stressful time and the older students who have exams coming are understandably anxious about how they are doing and what might happen. Encourage them to keep a sense of perspective. If nothing else, this pandemic has taught us that the important thing is the love of our family and friends and the way we treat other people. Academic work and achievement has a place – and an important one – but in the end it is not what defines us. I draw solace from Psalm 103 and this verse in particular:

“Bless Hashem, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name!”

Wishing you a very good Shabbos.

 

Mrs K Brice
Headteacher
Hasmonean High for Girls

Editorial 22/10/2020

Dear Parents,

If every child in a class self-isolates, their live lessons can be delivered live relatively easily as was the case during lockdown. However, if some remain in school and others have to self-isolate at home – which is the more likely scenario – delivering live lessons to both groups simultaneously is more challenging.  We are working hard to identify the optimal solution to deliver live lessons at home in this scenario however we are not quite there yet. For this to happen smoothly, students need to have Chromebooks which they can use both at home and in school, and all staff need to have the appropriate equipment (and training) to deliver lessons in school that are simultaneously streamed home.

Our Chromebook supplier has advised that these will arrive in November and, once delivered, they will then be configured for deployment. When we receive a precise date, we will let you know when your children will receive a device if you have ordered one. Additionally, teachers need to be provided with equipment to enable them to teach students in the class and at home concurrently. This involves identifying the optimal Bluetooth headsets, webcams and graphic tablets and, as you would expect, we are currently trialling a variety of equipment prior to placing bulk orders.

Once all of these elements are in place, staff will have the facility to give those at home access to live classroom lessons. Until then work will be uploaded onto Google classroom which will include live/recorded lessons wherever possible.

Please bear with us while we work through this process – we know that it will cause some frustration – and we are sincerely grateful for your patience while we go through the steps we need to take to increase live lessons for those who are isolating at home. We will get there.

To help us minimise the number of students who are having to self-isolate, please ensure that your children observe social distancing outside of school when socialising with their friends.

Please also check that your child has a clean face covering to bring to school each day to minimise the risk of infection (this is now mandatory in London).

Students must stay at home if they have any Covid symptoms and get tested. If they have had a Covid test for any reason, they should wait at home until they receive the results.​

We continue to follow Public Health Guidelines and take advice from Barnet Public Health in regard to all Covid-related matters.

With best wishes,

 

Mr Andrew McClusky, CEO

Editorial 15/10/2020

Dear Parents,

It has been a pleasure to welcome the students back to school after the break and to see them embracing the opportunity to learn in real classrooms. There is a real buzz in school and the students really want to be here. We have also managed to run an outstanding Year 7 Achdut trip for the boys which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Now that London is moving to Covid Tier 2 over this weekend, I am writing to remind you about the importance of following the Government advice in order to try to slow the spread of the virus. Our aim is to keep the schools open to the very best of our ability. This means that we are asking for parents and students to play their part in minimising infection spread: if you attend or promote gatherings indoors where households are mixing, you are putting your family and others at serious risk. Please help us to keep the schools open and to keep the community safe.

As we start again with Sefer Beraishit, it is worth noting that the entire sefer is replete with examples of our Avot behaving in an altruistic fashion and thinking about others. This must be our mantra during these very challenging times.

Wishing you a safe and peaceful Shabbat,

 

Mrs D Lebrett
Headteacher
Hasmonean High School for Boys

Editorial 1/10/2020

Dear Parents,

As soon as we finish reading the Torah on Simchas Torah, we immediately begin leining parshas Bereishis. And when we make a siyum, the minhag is to start the beginning of the next masechta at the very same celebration.

What is behind this?
The Torah begins with a ב and ends with a ל. This is strange as it spells בל which has negative associations. Think of words with these two letters in this order and it is invariably a negative connotation. A few examples: בעל, בלי, הבל, נבל, בלק, בלעם.

It gets worse. Torah she’baal peh begins with a מand ends with a ת. This of course spells מת – dead.

I once heard an explanation in the name of Rabbi Joseph Pearlman. We never simply complete Torah, we always start again. As soon as we finished the last words of V’Zos Habracha, we start Bereishis. So too at a siyum, as soon as we finish one masechta, we begin a new one.

In this light, the last letter of Torah she’bichsav and the first letter now spells לב (heart – suggesting our full emotional involvement) and Torah she’baal peh spells תם – perfection.

Even the word ש”ס (shas) has a gematria of 360 suggesting a circle of 360 degrees with no linear start or end point, just a continuous, ongoing circle.

The concept of continuity resonates with me in two, quite different ways.

Firstly, my wife and I are thrilled to have become grandparents this week. A Yom Kippur grandson! We feel very blessed and grateful and wish everyone to enjoy much simcha and nachas from their families.

Continuity also features in school too. For a start, thankfully school is still open! That is no small feat and it is has taken many people and much work to achieve this. Please G-d, we should continue to stay open and safe in the months ahead.

As we again begin a new Jewish year and a new cycle of Torah, may we absorb the above ideas and engage in Torah with all our לב and with an appreciation of its perfection.

Wishing you all a wonderful yom tov.

Yours sincerely,

Rabbi J Golker
Menahel

Editorial 24/9/2020

Dear Parents,

At this season of solemn reflection, when there is so much to depress us in the world, we have been heartened at school by the restoration of a form of normality. This enables us to see beyond the immediate crisis and to remember that what matters in life is the quality of the relationships we build with those around us. These can be sustained by online contact, but it is only when we meet together that we can truly deepen and extend our bonds with others. And so, it has been a joy to interact with our students again and to appreciate all that they bring us.

We have also benefited from the enthusiasm and energy of our HIPE teams who have been reinforcing the meaning of the festivals in creative and exciting ways. We all need to be reminded of how we should be grateful to Hashem for the gifts He gives us and to reflect on how we can make the world a better place.

Gmar Chatima Tova,

Mrs K Brice
Headteacher: Girls’ School

Editorial 17th September 2020

 

Dear Parents,

 

Welcome, everyone, to the new academic year – particularly to those parents who are new to the schools.

 

We’d like to start by thanking each and every one of you who helped us to exceed our fundraising target last year.

 

Following that very successful campaign, we wanted to give you an update on how the money that was raised is being used.

 

As you can see in the table above, of around £4.3m of parental donations and fundraising last year…

… approximately £3.7m is being used to meet the running costs for the last academic year and to carry urgent and essential capital works at both sites, including roof work, new boilers and a comprehensive CCTV upgrade

  • Whilst the costs of the capital work far exceeds the school’s contributions, we have achieved this through winning additional grants from the Government and CST.

 

£250k is being used to enable us to take in extra Year 7 boys this year

  • Without this investment, these children would not have had a Jewish school to attend. The funds were donated specifically for this purpose.
  • £200k will pay for building work to create new corridors, extra toilets and reconfigure rooms.
  • £50k will pay for extra pastoral support and teaching costs.

 

Whilst the above funds had to be allocated in this way, as we raised in excess of our target, we are able to make some modest, targeted investments, as follows:

 

£160k will be invested in initiatives to raise standards of achievement in the sixth form

  • Appointing a KS5 raising achievement co-ordinator to boost results across the curriculum
  • Extra tutoring in key subjects
  • Recruitment and retention initiatives to attract and retain the very best teachers
  • Augmenting classroom learning using targeted digital supplements
  • Using blended learning initiatives to preserve a broad curriculum

 

£130k will be invested in informal education

The Informal Education team has been expanded have been brought on board to help our students realise the beauty of Judaism and that Torah is not just a Toras Emes but a Toras Chaim. The programme will include:

  • Yemei Iyun – themed activities
  • Volunteering
  • Shabbatonim
  • After school activities
  • Mentoring and 1 to 1 personal spiritual support for Year 7 girls
  • Cross-departmental links

 

£100k will be invested in blended learning

Lockdown has enabled us to fully appreciate the power of technology to offer wrap-around education.  Building on this enables us to seamlessly educate children through any future lockdowns and make the best use of our resources across the two sites:

  • Staff within departments will be given the time and resources to develop digital learning and digital resources in each learning area
  • Synchronous (real time) and asynchronous (pre-prepared/recorded) teaching will be blended
  • Digital supplements for a variety of subjects will be offered to give students access to the best online resources
  • We will also be partnering with other education technology lead schools to ensure we are at the cutting edge of this area.

 

Our need this year

This year we will need to receive £4.1m to pay for the running costs of the school.  We will be reporting on how well we are performing against monthly targets so that you will be able to see the progress that is being made against them.

 

Thank you to each and every one of you for your support last year… and thank you in anticipation of your support this coming year.

 

 

Gary Swabel – Chair, Hasmonean MAT

Andrew McClusky – CEO, Hasmonean MAT