London School of Jewish Studies trains teachers across Jewish primary and secondary schools.
Courses are attended by people across the Jewish community who value lifelong learning.
Since Covid-19, LSJS have created a vibrant online learning community which consists of people across the world, including ex-pat Brits who live in America and Israel.
There are different access points into teaching whether it’s for graduates wanting to be teachers, candidates looking for a career change, older people getting into teaching, teachers in schools who haven’t qualified or people that want to be Jewish Studies teachers.
Michael Rainsbury is based in Israel as Head of Adult Education at LSJS and came through the training programme to be teacher at King Solomon High School.
Hailing from South Woodford, Michael, 35, is married to Dana with two children.
Michael grew up with Bnei Akiva, thriving as a leader and Rosh of local branches and camps. His journey into teaching with LSJS and how his career has developed is illuminating.
“When I finished university, it seemed logical to apply to work for Bnei Akiva where I was Education Worker and then National Director,” he recalled. “When I finished my time at BA, I did have other potential careers in mind but when I thought about teaching, it just seemed more of a natural fit. I really wanted to teach in my local community so applied for a job as a teacher at King Solomon High School (now Kantor King Solomon High School) via the LSJS Graduate Training Programme, it has since changed name to Schools Direct.
“It was not a long process to join the year-long course, which I needed to pass in order to continue teaching, though there were also requirements in my second year. It involved teaching four days at school and one at LSJS where we studied teaching models, reflected on our teaching and learned theory.
“I went on a teaching placement to a non-Jewish school where I observed the Religious Studies department. I was observed many times and received a personal mentor both within and outside of school to help me through the year. I also visited schools and observed lessons at the Jewish schools where my course fellows were teaching.”
He added, “I was in a group of seven people, there was a real diversity amongst the teachers on the course, which allowed for many enriching discussions. We had teachers from Yesodei HaTorah, Menorah Girls, JFS and King Solomon. And we all went to each others’ schools to observe lessons, which was quite the culture shock in both ways. The ensuing discussions, on topics such as how Israel and the creation story are taught in the different schools, were always polite and respectful. I think this made a deep impact on all of us.
“For me the most challenging part was the observations. Although I feel at home when I am educating, I felt that observations were like conducting an orchestra at a concert with an audience. Every part of the lesson had to run like clockwork, and I had to manage the room so that everyone was on top form!”
So how would Michael evaluate his experience with LSJS?
“I received a lot of personal attention from the staff at LSJS and this certainly impacted on my successfully completing the course, no doubt about it,” he observed.
Michael is Head of Adult Education at LSJS responsible for running courses, events and tours that LSJS is famous for.
He also works in the teacher training department, including running LSjS’ flagship Teach To Lead programme for outstanding teachers and the Jewish Studies conferences.
Based on the transformative Teach First model, Teach to Lead takes the highest calibre graduates with a track record in Jewish leadership and a passion for Jewish values and learning for this most fundamental of roles.
The programme is based around the School Direct fully paid training programme with students employed from day one in a Jewish school. In addition, it incorporates intensive leadership training and mentoring, giving opportunities to develop these skills at an accelerated rate. Participants will be exposed to examples of great leadership from our schools and from our wider community. They benefit from a variety of placements and exposure to teaching in Jewish schools abroad. They will have the option to fast track to a Masters’ degree as well as gaining their teaching qualification.
It is LSJS’ hope that Jewish studies teachers from primary through to secondary school education will inspire and challenge children showing them the relevance of their Jewish heritage to 21st century lives.
The National Jewish Education Conference for Jewish Studies teachers in the Primary sector has recently celebrated its 11th annual conference with the theme of Heart and Soul.
The third annual Secondary School conference is planned for May this year.
The conferences equip teachers with new skills and knowledge that they can use to increase the impact of JS/Kodesh lessons. The conference is also an annual opportunity for over 200 teachers across the Jewish schools to network with colleagues, sharing ideas and discussing classroom strategies.”
Michael works from Israel, which brings its challenges but also many opportunities.
“It’s certainly a new way of working, but I definitely feel as welcomed into the office as if I was going into it in Hendon every day,” he said.
Looking back on his teaching journey to date, what tips does Michael have for anyone who wishes to go into teaching?
“If you have the passion, do it,” he said. “The first year of teaching is very hard, there’s no sugarcoating that but if you believe in what you’re doing, and you have the talent to think on your feet and the confidence that you can impact young people’s lives, then go for it. The difference between my first and second years was huge. And every day I appreciated the work I had done to get to where I was.”
LSJS offers a range of training courses to get your career in teaching started. To find out more and details on bursaries please visit www.lsjs.ac.uk or call 0208 203 6427.