Here at Simon Marks Jewish Primary School we believe that Jewish Studies is at the heart of helping to guide children with their understanding of the world, no matter their background or faith. Throughout the entire curriculum the values of Judaism are embedded to ensure children are encouraged to develop their deeper understanding of the world and their place in it.
Children at Simon Marks take great pride in questioning, enquiring and developing their Jewish knowledge, resulting in our pupils having a well-rounded and inquisitive view of the world. We showcase their fantastic depth of knowledge with assemblies, performances and a special school Seder meal for parents and invited guests.
Our Aim is for Simon Marks pupils to leave school with a passion and desire to continue their Jewish journey through life or a continued and lasting interest in Judaism.
Jewish Studies (JS) teaching and learning takes place across all Key Stages.
At Simon Marks, Hebrew reading is a key focus area across the school. Starting in Early Years, the children will begin to recognise the letters of the Aleph-Bet and vowels through word recognition. In Key Stage 1 the children begin to read from the Aleph-Champ scheme and this is continued through Key Stage 2 where they will also read from the Siddur, Chumash and Modern Hebrew texts.
By the end of KS2 most children are able to decode Hebrew sentences, lead Shabbat Assemblies and recite the common blessings with confidence.
The children’s Hebrew reading progress is monitored through continuous assessment (one to one with teachers, TAs and parent volunteers).
Like so many areas of the school, our parents share a passion for Hebrew reading and Ivrit and we have parent ‘Reading Champions’ who come in to school to help children with their Hebrew reading.
In EYFS, children have the opportunity to learn the basics of Jewish history and values through interaction with the weekly Torah portions, and through learning and celebration of festivals throughout the year.
Key Stage One (KS1) pupils learn about, and experience the festivals (Chagim). They also learn Jewish History and episodes from the Torah. This aims to be a ‘staging post’ that builds on skills and knowledge gained in EYFS, and provides a foundation for the Key Stage Two (KS2) curriculum. The children also begin to understand the meaning and significance of blessings and key Tefillot (prayers) in Judaism.
At the end of Key Stage 1 the children are presented with their first Siddur which they take with them through their time at Simon Marks and is used to enhance their understanding and recitation of prayers. The children’s parents present them with the Siddur, demonstrating a passion and encouragement for their children’s learning.
In KS2, the children focus mainly on Jewish values that are applicable to the wider world. This is delivered through the Discovery Jewish Festivals curriculum, the JCP Chumash curriculum, the Parashat Hashavua curriculum. Year 4 children learn about Tefillot (Prayers) through the Messilot Lashem curriculum. The Year 5 Jewish studies also include the Etgar Challenge, which is learnt from a beautifully designed textbook culminating in a national inter-schools quiz that takes place towards the end of Year 5. Children also take more responsibility for delivering various assemblies throughout the year for Havdalah, Shabbat and around the Chagim.
The Chumash JCP (Jewish Curriculum Partnership) is taught, whereby the children acquire knowledge, skills and understanding of episodes in the Torah, from the book of Bereishit (Genesis).
Jewish Studies is reinforced by the Jewish Interactive App (JI TAP) linking the mainstream curriculum and the Jewish curriculum in lessons. We celebrate the festivals and events with a strong tradition of performance and these dramatic and musical presentations are also rehearsed in both Jewish Studies and linked lesson curriculum time.