The JCA is a communal fundraising body for the Jewish community in NSW and the ACT, with added responsibility for strategic planning on issues including sustainability of Jewish schools.
The JCA identified that Jewish schools faced existential challenges in the future from changing demographics and social trends, increasing concerns about private school affordability, and community feedback pointing to unmet needs and expectations.
The JCA sought an assessment of the status of the schools to provide a robust evidence base and guidance on future directions. We were invited to provide an independent assessment to inform planning for the shape of education across the community and at individual schools.
Shari Lowe, Head of Planning, JCA
We used extensive quantitative and qualitative analysis to gain a deep understanding of the schools environment and to highlight options. Our analysis included:
The community survey gained an insight into what factors families valued in selecting a Jewish school:
The survey also captured comments from parents on what they wanted from schools. Parents said they wanted schools to “understand that some kids need enrichment, and others support”, “invest in growing each child”, “learn how to get the best out of each child”, “show warmth, commitment and enthusiasm”, “employ creative approaches to education” and “create Jewish leaders for tomorrow”.
Based on this extensive analysis, we developed potential future visions, ranging from simple improvements to transformative reforms, through engaging with families and communal leaders. We also prepared clear recommendations for the community as a whole and for the individual schools.
The JCA welcomed our objective and evidence-based report, which set it up for successful change. Our report supported a newly developed education committee, led by David Gonski AC, to explore options to revitalise the schools and in turn support the future of education for the broader community.
We facilitated a brainstorming workshop for the committee to identify several big ideas for the future of education for the community. The schools and JCA are working together on the big ideas generated and are reviewing each one for synergistic benefits across the Jewish education landscape in NSW.