Editorial – 7th May 2020

Dear Parents,

As we mentioned in our eNews editorial last week, we are seeking feedback from staff, parents and students on how the digital launch is working for everyone.

We will listen to all of the feedback from our surveys and refine our online timetable and teaching in the light of it. However, we will need to bear in mind that each family is in a very different position, as indeed are our teachers, and any refinements will need to take this into consideration.

We would really appreciate it if as many of you as possible could complete the parent survey. Even if you don’t have strong feelings on the matter, we would still like to hear your views to ensure that we have a representative view of how online learning plans are being received.

You can let us know about your views here: https://forms.gle/UdDvwqytDaLCqDGH8

We would really appreciate it if you could let us have your feedback by the end of Monday 11th May.

Surveys will be sent out to students and staff separately.

Please note that Kodesh provision will be available as timetabled tomorrow, Friday 8th May. We are deeply grateful to our Kodesh staff for continuing to teach on the May Day bank holiday. Details of next week’s Kodesh programme are being sent separately.

With best wishes,

Mr A McClusky – CEO, Hasmonean MAT

Mrs D Lebrett – Headteacher, Hasmonean Boys’ School

Mrs K Brice – Headteacher Hasmonean Girls’ School

Rabbi J Golker – Menahel, Hasmonean MAT

Editorial 30th April 2020

Dear Parents,

Chidon HaTanach – Success for Batsheva Schwab

Firstly, we would like to give Batsheva Schwab our warmest congratulations on making it to the final of the international Bible quiz which took place yesterday. We are very, very proud of her for representing the school so magnificently and incredibly grateful to Rabbi Silverman, Miss Simonsson and everyone in the Kodesh department who supported her to perform at this level. We are so, so delighted for her and her teachers. What a fabulous achievement!

Our New Digital World

We are approaching the end of a week in which the Multi-Academy Trust launched G Suite to run a new timetable of secular lessons and The Hasmonean High School Charitable Trust launched a new and exciting summer Kodesh programme.

We would like to thank all staff for leaping into our brave new digital world. We really are grateful to them for engaging with the training that has been offered and for being willing to ‘go live’ so soon afterwards. Their goodwill in these challenging times is never taken for granted.

We would like to remind you that they, like us, are familiarising themselves with G Suite’s functions. Consequently, the online delivery is not yet being delivered as smoothly as we hope it will be when we have all had more opportunity to use the platform.

We will soon be seeking feedback from staff, parents and students on how the digital launch is working for everyone. We would like as many of you as possible to send us feedback and will be sending out links to surveys next week. We will listen to all of the feedback from our surveys and refine our online timetable and teaching in the light of it. However, we will need to bear in mind that each family is in a very different position, as indeed are our teachers, and any refinements will need to take this into consideration.

In the meantime, if you wish to receive help or have any queries in regard to digital learning, please email: help@hasmonean.co.uk and we will be in touch to support you.

Finally, we would like to thank you once again for your patience and understanding during our launch.

With best wishes,

Mr A McClusky – CEO, Hasmonean MAT

Mrs D Lebrett – Headteacher, Hasmonean Boys’ School

Mrs K Brice – Headteacher Hasmonean Girls’ School

Rabbi J Golker – Menahel, Hasmonean MAT

Editorial – 23rd April 2020

Dear Parents,

 

We hope you are well and would like to begin once again by apologising for the amount of information we wish to share with you. The good news is that we are ready to launch our new G Suite digital learning platform and that the Hasmonean High School Charitable Trust is ready to launch an exciting and inspiring summer Kodesh programme.

 

We will be emailing three separate letters to parents today:​

  • A letter to parents who have children in Years 7, 8, 9, 10 or 12
  • A letter to parents who have children in Year 11
  • A letter to parents who have children in Year 13

 

They will include important information about:

  • Our plans for the launch of the G Suite digital learning platform from Monday 27th April for Years 7-12. This includes how your children can access their timetables for online learning, each of their online classes and the work which will be set to support their learning.
  • Information for Year 11 about their GCSE and BTEC results, re-sit examinations​, studies this term and plans for them to commence their A Level/ BTEC studies from next week.
  • Information for Year 13 about their A Level and BTEC results, re-sit examinations, university applications and how they will be supported by the school.

 

Please ensure that you pass on the information that you will receive in these letters to your children to enable them to access their online learning materials.

 

Please do bear in mind that staff have only very recently been trained in how to use G Suite.  Ordinarily we would have a much longer period to train staff and transition to this new platform. However, given that we want to provide students with the benefits that this platform can bring as quickly as possible, we have chosen to launch it sooner rather than later. Please bear with our teachers as they familiarise themselves with all of its functions: we are incredibly grateful to them for embracing this new technology at such short notice. We will also be monitoring students’ timetables and will be able to adjust it as we receive feedback from staff, parents and students.

 

A letter was sent to all parents yesterday about how we can support your children with their mental health and well-being.

 

Tomorrow, you will receive extremely exciting news about a summer Kodesh programme run by the Hasmonean High School Charitable Trust and an important message from the Trustees of Hasmonean Multi-Academy Trust.

 

With kind regards,

 

Mr A McClusky – CEO, Hasmonean MAT

Mrs D Lebrett – Headteacher, Hasmonean Boys’ School

Mrs K Brice – Headteacher Hasmonean Girls’ School

Rabbi J Golker – Menahel, Hasmonean MAT

 

Editorial 26/3/2020

Dear Parent,

It has been another tumultuous week and our thoughts and tefillos go to our staff, students and parents who are unwell or who are having to cope with bereavement at this terribly difficult time.

Please be reassured that we are available for the Hasmonean community should you need us.  Our pastoral staff are in contact with the students regularly and we are working tirelessly in order to create a realistic and dynamic teaching and learning schedule which we will introduce immediately after Pesach.

More details will follow over the course of this week.

Sending you all best wishes and a good Shabbos.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs D Lebrett
Headteacher – Boys’ School

 

Dear Parents,

​We are delighted to to inform you that the Kodesh department are now inviting their students to live Shiurum via a link to the Zoom platform on Show My Homework. 

The Zoom platform will be used by the Kodesh department until Pesach, after which we will be switching to Google’s G Suite for all staff to facilitate interaction between staff and students in all subjects. This platform supports features such as video conferencing and messaging between teachers and classes, storage of classroom resources and applications to support online pedagogy in a safe and secure environment.

Update on plans to upgrade digital learning

We have been working hard behind the scenes to move towards a comprehensive, secure and agile digital environment to maximise students’ learning opportunities in the immediate future. We selected Google’s G Suite for education to become our single central platform to drive forward our ambitious digital learning plans for now and the foreseeable future as it provides the latest online tools. 

We are now ready to roll this out. Our intention before the Pesach holiday is to ensure:

1.    All staff and students have a Google school email account

2.    All staff are trained in how to safely and effectively use G Suite to upload resources and facilitate live interaction with students

3.    All staff practise using the platform so that they are able to use it smoothly straight after Pesach; depending on how quickly the above can be achieved, we may be in a position to facilitate tutorials with students before the Pesach break – if this is the case, the relevant staff will be in touch with their classes

4.    All staff and students are issued with a post-Pesach timetable which will include:

​•  Regular Kodesh shiurum

​•  Tutorials with subject teachers for all year groups

​•  Pastoral/ wellbeing/ mental health check-ins with the pastoral team

​•  Differentiated timetables and extra support from the SEND team.

This means that what we can offer more effective digital learning and  increased staff/ student interaction straight after Pesach. In the meantime, we will continue to use Moodle and Show My Homework to upload resources, set work, communicate with students and receive feedback and work from them.

Year 11 and Year 13 exam grades

We are still awaiting Ofqual’s advice regarding examination grades for Year 11 and Year 13. We would like Year 11 to begin preparing for A Level/ BTEC studies as soon as possible and would like to support Year 13 to transition to the next stages of their lives. However, it may be the case that some of these students will still need to continue to focus on their GCSEs and A levels, depending on Ofqual’s advice. As soon as we know more, we will let you know.

On-site learning

If you are a parent who is a key worker or a parent of a vulnerable child whose circumstances change such that you are no longer able to look after your child at home, please inform the relevant headteacher. If there are sufficient numbers of children, we will then either re-open the school(s) or, if there are very few students, work with the local authority to find a hub school for them to attend. As this process may take some time to organise, please try to give us as much advance notice as you are able to if this is the case (though we appreciate that this may not always be possible)

What if I or my child has a safeguarding concern when the school is closed?

In the event of school closure, we would advise any parent or child who has a concern about their own or others’ safety to contact the Barnet MASH Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 020 8359 4066 or contact your local authority safeguarding hub if you live in a different local authority. If your concern is school-related you will be able to email the Safeguarding Designated Senior People: l.waugh@hasmonean.co.uk (girls) and r.benarroch@hasmonean.co.uk (boys)

With kind regards,

Mr A McClusky – CEO, Hasmonean MAT

Mrs D Lebrett – Headteacher Hasmonean Boys’ School    

Mrs K Brice – Headteacher Hasmonean Girls’ School      

Rabbi J Golker – Menahel

   

Editorial 19/3/2020

Dear Parents,

Re: Coronavirus update

We write to you without yet knowing whether schools in England will close on Friday. We also do not yet know if any future closure means full closure or whether they will remain open to some students and staff. Once we get further clarification on this and have assessed the impact on the school community, we will let you know our response.

However, what we do know is that the number of students who are working from home is increasing.

To work effectively from home, students need to establish good routines from the outset:

  • Wake up at a reasonable time in the morning, get dressed, daven and have breakfast;
  • Eat at regular meal times;
  • Put aside phones when they are working, just as they would at school;
  • For the time being, use their regular school timetable as a guide to how much work should be attempted in each subject;
  • Build in time for more creative tasks such as art, music or cooking to get a reasonable balance of academic work and purposeful leisure time;
  • Exercise – the form this takes may depend on whether students can leave the house but there is plenty of exercise that can be performed indoors.

We are working on the use of a number of learning platforms such as Google Classroom and Zoom and have been taking soundings from schools in Hong Kong, as well as other Jewish and non-Jewish schools to learn about what works safely and what works best. Once we are satisfied that we have identified the best way to transform our online learning, we will send details to students and parents. Our plans will address not only the academic needs of students but their wellbeing more generally while they work from home.

In the meantime, for those students who are no longer in school in Years 8-10, Kodesh staff are using Moodle and Show My Homework in the same way as secular staff to set work. Despite severe staff shortages, we are continuing Kodesh and secular lessons for all students in school in Years 7 and 11-13.

Rabbi Golker reflects on his own period of self-isolation  as follows: “BH I am still symptom free and feeling fine. Such times are opportunities to bond with our children and model behaviour that will imbue our children will lessons for life. They may not remember every Possuk or daf Gemoro they learn but they will remember watching how you spoke, davened or bentched during this time. Having been on many Poland trips, I often feel that it is sometimes possible to teach a student in six days on a Poland trip what it normally takes six months to teach in a classroom. These times are no different.”

We would all like to thank our staff for their hard work, parents for their patience and understanding and students for coping so well in these uncertain times. ‘Social distancing’ does not stop a strong community like Hasmonean from being united.

With kind regards,

Mr A McClusky                                 Mrs D Lebrett                                                    Mrs K Brice

CEO, Hasmonean MAT           Headteacher                                                   Headteacher

Hasmonean Boys’ School       Hasmonean Girls’ School

 

 

 

Editorial 12/3/2020

Dear Parent,

We find ourselves in unprecedented times. The coronavirus outbreak has now been labelled as a pandemic, spreading in multiple countries all over the world. People are anxious and no one knows how things are going to unfold.

What message can we give our children?

This Shabbos is not only parshas Ki Sisa but also Parshas Parah. We have just enjoyed Purim and are heading towards Pesach. What is the common denominator between these four events?

The common denominator is emunah, faith in Hashem.

Ki Sisa tells of the sin of the egel hazahav, the golden calf where a section of Klal Yisrael displayed a lack of emunah. Parshas Parah speaks about the quintessential chok – זאת חקת התורה. Purim is the story of how Hashem delivered Klal Yisrael in a hidden way and Pesach is the story of direct intervention by Hashem. Contemplation of both is intended to enhance our faith. Telling and internalising the stories are meant to imbue us with emunah and withstand the travails of our times.

The Gemara in Megilah (16a) tells us that when Haman looks for Mordechai to carry out King Achashverosh’s reward of riding on the king’s horse, dressed in royal clothes, he finds Mordechai in the Beis Hamedrash teaching hilchos kemitzah. Hilchos kemitzah are technical laws involving flour offerings.

Why hilchos kemitzah now? The first Beis Hamikdash has been destroyed and the second has yet to come. There is no Beis Hamkidash, no flour offerings and no kemitzah?

The answer is that Mordechai is teaching a powerful message. Klal Yisrael are in deep trouble. The noose is tightening around their neck. A date for state sanctioned genocide has been set. Mordechai does his hishtadlus, he makes every effort to guide Esther and together with the rest of the Jewish people, he fasts and prays. And then he teaches hilchos kemitzah.

In so doing, he is telling Klal Yisrael the message of last week’s haftorah – נצח ישראל לא ישקר. Mordechai is saying we may be in a precarious state, but we will get through this, we will prevail. There will yet be a Beis Hamikdash and Kohanim will once again perform the avodah and take a kemitzah.

The message to our children is the same. We must do our bit to stay safe and follow medical guidelines carefully, but we remain calm in the knowledge that HKBH runs the world.

Good Shabbos

Rabbi J Golker
Menahel

Editorial 5/3/2020

Dear Parent,

Last week we read Parshat Terumah where the Bnei Yisroel were asked to contribute to the building of the Mishkan, as much as their heart was able to give. Later in the Torah however we are told that each person was required to contribute half a shekel towards the Mishkan – why the need for both?

Rashi in Ki Tissa tells us that the voluntary donations were used for the majority of the building and vessels, however the two sets of half shekels that everyone was required to give were set aside for the sockets and communal korbanot. Why?

When building a communal function, there are two key facets:

1. To create a true communal facility everyone needs to contribute. The sockets were the foundations upon which the entire mishkan stood and the communal korbanot were the foundational service around which the mishkan functioned. Without everyone’s buy in, without everyone setting aside part of themselves and contributing financially, there could be no base upon which any communal facility functions.

2. Once you have the foundations, everyone’s personal donation makes a fundamental difference to the operational capability. The basics operate with the half shekels, but anything more becomes non-viable.

Hasmonean is our community school and, much like the Mishkan, cannot function in a vacuum. As I write this message, contributions from families continue to run well behind last year (£300k to the end of February). The governors, teachers and students are immensely grateful to all those parents who have honoured this year’s VC request, but unfortunately many families have not yet been able to do so. As our partners in your children’s education we turn to you to seek your continued support, to avoid a chipping away at the foundations upon which Hasmonean is built.

Next week is Purim, a time when the Jewish Community shines brightly in its generosity. When considering where to allocate your tzedokah funds, please ensure you bear in mind our children’s chinuch. All the communal rabbonim have agreed that the first call on your tzedokah needs to be our community’s outstanding chinuch institutions. Please take a few moments to make a donation now here: https://www.parentpay.com/

With kind regards,

Mr Jonny Feinmesser
Chair of Hasmonean MAT’s Finance Committee

Dear Parent,

I would like to add my own thoughts to those of Jonny Feinmesser.

The cuts which were sadly necessary last year to balance our budget are taking their toll on the school and on staff who are teaching heavier timetables and larger classes. Teachers are working extremely hard to give the kind of attention to every child that they would like to, but the extra pressures are being felt across the board.

If we wish to recruit and retain the very best teachers, we have to provide them with conditions to enable them to be effective. When teachers flourish, students flourish.

The cost of running two relatively small schools with a broad secular and Kodesh curriculum far exceeds the income it receives from the government.

The amount which you contribute in voluntary contributions directly impacts on our capacity to focus on things that really matter: safeguarding, mental health and pastoral support; the quality of teaching; the breadth of the curriculum; the physical environment which students occupy for so much of their day-to-day lives.

The more you give, the more we can achieve; the less you give, the less we can achieve.

It is therefore absolutely imperative that every family gives as much as it can possibly afford to. To those who do, I add my sincere thanks to Jonny’s: you truly are our lifeblood.

The consequences of not meeting our voluntary contributions target this year are unthinkable. Hasmonean is a unique institution. Its success depends on your voluntary contributions and its future really is in your hands.

With kind regards,

Mr A McClusky
CEO, Hasmonean MAT

Editorial 27/2/2020

Dear Parent,

The Board of Trustees is currently reviewing the ethos and vision statements for the Multi-Academy Trust and from there will outline its strategic objectives for the next 3-5 years.

In my editorial this week, I would like you to be aware of some of the objectives that we are working on in the meantime and which we will be finalising before the end of the academic year.

Firstly, we have been reviewing the senior leadership team and the standards/ pastoral teams at both schools with a view to ensuring that we have the best structure and sufficient capacity to increase our focus on:

1. Torah values being at the heart of all we do
2. The safety, wellbeing and pastoral needs of students
3. Ensuring that students meet the highest expectations in regard to uniform, conduct, punctuality and engagement
4. Teacher development

The more capacity we have to focus on these areas, the better our learning environment.

Secondly, we are in the process of reviewing the curricula at both schools to ensure that they are well-designed to support the needs of all our students. We are keenly aware that we need to offer rigorous and inspiring Kodesh and secular curricula at each school alongside British Values, Religious and Sex Education and sufficient physical activity. Our proposals will soon be discussed with each local governing body and with the MAT Trust Board before being shared with parents to elicit your views.

We will give you further updates on all of the above areas in due course.

With kind regards,

Mr A McClusky
CEO, Hasmonean Multi-Academy Trust

Editorial 13/20/2020

Dear Parent,

I was honoured to attend two events recently run by the Jewish Book Week organisers. Together with the sixth formers and various members of staff, I heard Norman Lebrecht speak about his new book: ‘Genius and Anxiety’ and Raffi Berg discuss his book: ‘Red Sea Spies’. It was a truly inspirational experience to hear two intelligent, academic individuals passionately discussing their subjects and a real honour for Hasmonean to host them.

The Boys’ school has also been honoured to host a number of representatives from a range of Yeshivas who are coming into the Beis programme to meet the boys in preparation for next year. The Rabbonim speak during the morning and the entire Beis Programme are able to benefit from the illustrious guests.

We know how important it is to broaden our students’ experiences and to help them to understand how valuable it is to appreciate different facets of humanity. It is only then that we can really educate them to be tolerant and respectful of everybody in society.

Wishing all of our students a wonderful half term. School begins on Monday 24th February at normal time.

Have a peaceful Shabbos,

Mrs D Lebrett
Headteacher

Editorial 06/02/2020

Dear Parent,

Klal Yisroel find themselves in dire straits in this week’s parsha. Trapped between the Egyptian army in hot pursuit and the deep blue sea, they cry out to Hashem. The Medrash tells us that only on seeing רכוש של מצרים בידם, the wealth of the Egyptians in the hands of the Jewish people, did the sea split.

This is very strange. The waters did not give way for the men, women and children of Klal Yisroel, but only for the Egyptian plunder! What does this mean?

Rabbi Pinchos Roberts explains that after decades of slavery and persecution they were suddenly free and very wealthy. But their newfound wealth did not go to their heads, it was firmly in check – it was בידם, in their hands and in their control.

The Yam Suf witnessed this remarkable self-discipline of the Jewish people and only then split its waters.

Last week, we were witness to the amazing success of several Hasmonean students, success born from extraordinary self-discipline to study hard for the national Chidon HaTanach, the inter-school Bible Quiz.

I am proud to say that Hasmonean students stole the show, winning all the prizes in both the junior and senior categories. Mazal tov to Ilana Maierovits, Sara Solomon and Leah Kalmus, winners of the junior category and Batsheva Schwab, Reuven Simcha Garber and Avigayil Rowe, winners of the senior category. The senior winners will be representing Hasmonean and the UK in the famous annual World Bible Quiz on Yom Ha’atzmaut in Israel in a few months’ time.

Here’s a short video clip of the event to give you a flavour.

Special thanks to Mr Maierovits who organised the event, Rabbi Silverman who has put much effort in preparing many students for this, Rabbis Amram Landau (one of the judges) and Yossi Fachler (the quizmaster) as well as many members of staff who attended.

Further information about last weeks’ event and the syllabus for next year are attached on eNews. Please see the two documents from Mr Maierovits.

I very much hope that we can build on this year’s amazing success and spread the learning and love of Tanach to many more students.

Good Shabbos,

Rabbi J Golker
Menahel