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Teacher behind new Jewish free school in Golders Green relishes the challenge

PUBLISHED: 14:00 06 March 2012

Rachel Clark, chair of governors of the new Rimon Free School. Picture: Polly Hancock

Rachel Clark, chair of governors of the new Rimon Free School. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

A Jewish free school will open in Golders Green this September to help redress the shortage of primary places in the area and provide a new type of integrated curriculum.

Primary school teacher Rachel Clark, who has a masters degree in urban teaching, is leading the bid for the Jewish primary school which will be called Rimon.

The name comes from the Jewish word for the pomegranate and symbolises the seeds of potential in every person.

Mrs Clark said the reasons for setting up the new school in Golders Green were two-fold.

“There is a very high demand for primary places in the area and there has also been a big hike in the birth rate which has exacerbated the problem,” the 30-year-old explained.

“More importantly there is a need for a different kind of school, to combine the best of the state sector with the creativity and the flexibility of a free school.”

Rimon will have an integrated curriculum, a thematic way of teaching that instead of splitting education into literacy, numeracy or science covers them all together.

“You might have a topic like chocolate or you might have lessons using theatre,” explained Mrs Clark.

“All the elements of the curriculum would have some cross-over, which is a more natural way of learning and mirrors real life.”

The intake will be 50 per cent based on faith and 50 per cent based on proximity to the school, although a site has not yet been announced.

The Jewish faith will also play a prominent part in school life and Rabbi Harvey Belovski of Golders Green Synagogue will be its religious principal, while kosher food will also be served at lunch time.

“We’ll have a very vigorous approach to Jewish studies and a strong textually based religious education,” said Mrs Clark.

“We want our pupils to be familiar with original sources and with Hebrew.

“Even for non-Jewish pupils this is advantage because they will be learning a classical language.”

The school will take 28 reception pupils this September and expand to cater for pupils up to age 11 by 2018.

“It will be a small school where everybody pulls together to take ownership of lots of different aspects of learning,” said Mrs Clark.

She currently specialises in teaching children with English as an additional language at Wessex Gardens Primary School in Golders Green and said that driving the Rimon project was “challenging but also hugely exciting”.


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