The JFS Head Resigns After Parents Complain About ‘Army Camp’ Discipline

The interim headmaster was called in to turn around a beleaguered JFS but has left after less than half a term in charge, amid parental unrest over tough new disciplinary measures which one mother compared to an army camp.

Martin Tissot, chief executive of a Catholic multi-academy trust, had been expected to be leading the JFS for a year, but parents were told that he had passed that trust to deputy head Paul Ramsey, who joined the school at the start of the term, and Anna Joseph, would be acting heads until a permanent leader was appointed.

Andrew Moss, chairman of the JFS, gave no reason for Martin Tissot’s departure but said they had been fortunate to receive his support, and that his involvement had always been intended as an interim measure.

The last permanent head, Rachel Fink, left at the end of May, a few weeks before the publication of an Ofsted report that highlighted failings in safeguarding and tackling bad behaviour.

Measures to improve behaviour had been introduced under ex Ofsted head Sir Michael Wilshaw, who was drafted in as interim executive principal of the JFS in June.

But in a letter to parents before the start of term Martin Tissot tried to stamp his authority on the school, excluding the use of lockers by students because some had been used inappropriately, and insisting that ties should be worn correctly, with top buttons fastened.

In an anonymous Facebook post circulating, a person purporting to be a JFS mother compared the school to an army camp and said that her children no longer wanted to attend, and another told the Jewish Chronicle that many agreed.

One even complained of a sledgehammer approach to discipline.

A senior figure at the school acknowledged that they were trying to build a new vision and that a new dawn could never happen overnight. Mr Tissot was approached for comment but he did not reply.

The Jews Free School (JFS) was the largest and most thriving Jewish Secondary school. It was founded in 1732 as the Talmud Torah of the Great Synagogue of London, helping orphans of the community.

In 1822, the school was relocated to Bell Lane in the heart of the East End where, throughout the 19th century, it absorbed thousands of immigrant children, and at one time the JFS had 4,000 children on roll and was the largest school in the world.

In the interwar years, children frequently came straight from the Kindertransport to the JFS, and during World War II, students were evacuated to East Anglia and Cornwall and the school was destroyed by enemy action. It reopened in 1958 in Camden Town where its position was central for the London Jewish population of the late 1950s.

Maintaining its tradition of mirroring the demography of the community, JFS left Camden Town in 2002 and relocated itself to the state of the art facilities closer to the heart of North West London.

The school enthuses its pupils with a passion for their Jewish heritage and provides an opportunity for Jewish growth in an open setting, and it caters for all aspects of the Jewish community, where it has developed many cross-curricular links with a diversity of departments including Geography, English, Science, Business, Music and Art in a sense of Jewish and Israeli culture and pride throughout the formal curriculum.

Published by Angela Lloyd

My vision on life is pretty broad, therefore I like to address specific subjects that intrigue me. Therefore I really appreciate the world of politics, though I have no actual views on who I will vote for, that I will not tell you, so please do not ask! I am like an observation station when it comes to writing, and I simply take the news and make it my own. I have no expectations, I simply love to write, and I know this seems really odd, but I don't get paid for it, I really like what I do and since I am never under any pressure, I constantly find that I write much better, rather than being blanketed under masses of paperwork and articles that I am on a deadline to complete. The chances are, that whilst all other journalists are out there, ripping their hair out, attempting to get their articles completed, I'm simply rambling along at my convenience creating my perfect piece. I guess it must look pretty unpleasant to some of you that I work for nothing, perhaps even brutal. Perhaps I have an obvious disregard for authority, I have no idea, but I would sooner be working for myself, than under somebody else, excuse the pun! Small I maybe, but substantial I will become, eventually. My desk is the most chaotic mess, though surprisingly I know where everything is, and I think that I would be quite unsuited for a desk job. My views on matters vary and I am extremely open-minded to the stuff that I write about, but what I write about is the truth and getting it out there, because the people must be acquainted. Though I am quite entertained by what goes on in the world. My spotlight is mostly to do with politics, though I do write other material as well, but it's essentially politics that I am involved in, and I tend to concentrate my attention on that, however, information is essential. If you have information the possibilities are endless because you are only limited by your own imagination...

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