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Kicking Goals for Free Jewish Education

October 16, 2012 – 7:29 pm64 Comments

The Free Jewish Education Movement Prepares for Year Two – Continuing to Meet Jewish Community Needs at Glen Eira College, our Local Community’s School.
By Jonny Schauder
It is an exciting time. This week the leadership of the movement will come together again with the school to plan out the specifics of next year’s activities, and continuing improvement of all the Jewish community services at Glen Eira College.

It is fair to say that 2012 has been a watershed year. Hebrew was launched in term two of 2012 as an elective language subject with seven students enrolled. This was a full year ahead of schedule. We recruited the wonderful Elinor Mifkadi to teach the subject, and with the school’s support commenced what will be remembered as perhaps one of the most exciting initiatives in the community for decades.

The Minister for Education toured the Hebrew subject after a few weeks and commended it. The school also took massive steps in the acknowledgement and memorial of the Holocaust; and in respecting and planning around Jewish Holidays.

The Hebrew subject delivers close to three hours of formal Hebrew learning to the students per week; the equivalent of more than half an hour per day in school time!

The Principal, Lesley Lamb, has been the absolute exemplar of professionalism throughout the ongoing process, balancing tensions, ensuring progress, delivering on commitments and enabling input.

By Term three, because of its outstanding reputation, delivery and management, the Hebrew subject grew to 10 enrolled students. This represented 10% of the entire year level in Year 7 at Glen Eira College.

I commend all of the leaders, volunteers, supporters, teachers, parents and students for participating in a year that will set wonderful precedents for Jewish communities all around Melbourne, Australia and the world. And hopefully pressure every state school that is in the heart of a Jewish demographic to respond to local needs.

So what can we look forward to in 2013?
For a start, enrolments are up at the College in Year 7 by over 40%, and anecdotally, the Jewish student enrolment has increased in line with that rise.

There are the first examples of Jewish students in the McKinnon High School zone who have deliberately chosen to attend Glen Eira College instead. This success is in line with our vision to provide choices for children in the state school system to access culturally relevant subjects.

At an overall school level, this is consistent with the intent to bring Glen Eira College ahead of the tightly zoned McKinnon High School in all of its main statistics over the next five years.

With regards to Hebrew, we have between 30 and 35 children enrolled in Hebrew in 2013! As I write we have 20 students enrolled in Year 7 Hebrew, 10 students continuing in Year 8 Hebrew, and around 10 students still assessing their choices. This extraordinary growth is envisaged to continue over the next decade as the school continues to engage with the community.

It must be highlighted that with these outstanding enrolments we are almost certain to achieve full government funding for the subject.  This was a significant aim of the movement from the very first proposal submitted.

So what else will be happening?

  • Well this is what the next planning session is about…on the agenda are ideas like:
  • Introducing the VCE Religion and Society subject that enables students to explore their religion’s ethics, beliefs, stories, prayers and texts in comparison to others;
  • A much more aligned and broadened relationship with UJEB in the coordination of the student community on campus and outside school;
  • Potentially exploring partnerships with Israel education travel programs as part of the expansion of the Hebrew experience;
  • Before and after hours Jewish activities dramatically increasing with the ambition of improving relationships with Jewish interest groups who may wish to provide outside hours services;
  • Continued Holocaust memorials and acknowledgement of Jewish festivals.

A continuing call for involvement
Once again, a huge thanks to all those that have given their time, money, ideas, commitment, intellect, support and encouragement so far… you know who you are and you should all be very proud!

If anyone has any other ideas for the Movement or the College, please share them here on Galus. If you have any questions, I will try to answer them, or please contact the school directly.
If you want to get involved, just keep talking about the movement and the college. Share this update with others on social media and in your community groups. And of course if you’d like to be more formally part of the Movement please just let me know.  Momentum can only be driven by community involvement.

I write this article in memory of my dear Grandmother Joyce Altschuler who passed away this week. Baruch Dayan Emet. She always taught us that tomorrow is another day full of potential. Chazak Veematz.


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  • frosh says:

    The fact that some Jewish students in the much sought after McKinnon High School zone are now DELIBERATELY chosing to attend Glen Eira College instead speaks volumes of both the promise but also success of this movement.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Thanks for publishing this update Galus!

  • The movement has certainly struck a chord with the community. The question is: how do you define its “success”?

  • Marlo Newton says:

    Jonny, mazel-tov on your efforts and those of all associated with the initiatives at Glen Eira College. UJEB is excited to partner with you to extend our offerings to students of Glen Eira as part of our ongoing commitment to educate Jewish children in the government school system.

  • Hi David,
    What do you think the measures of success should be?

    It seems to me that providing a new affordable Jewish education option for families is very valuable. 30 kids learning Hebrew at school who would otherwise be limited to after-school options, seems very valuable to me as well. Etc, etc…

    It’s definitely too early to measure outcomes like post-High School Jewish education level, post-High School Jewish identity…

    In any case, would these be compared to kids going to a Jewish Day School – and if so which Jewish Day School should that be – or would they be compared to kids going to another public school?

  • One additional point of value that this brings is a competitor to those Jewish Day Schools that serve the sectors of the community that Glen Eira College is attracting. For those that prefer the Jewish Day School model, that need not be considered a negative, but rather a development that should motivate the Jewish Day Schools to improve their Jewish educational offerings.

  • abc says:

    But the real question is: what is a “Jewish Education”? Do Hebrew lessons and a respect for Holocaust Memorials constitute a “Jewish Education”?

  • letters in the age says:

    Education is a right and not a privilege

    After the nasty MLC incident i see more schools becoming “Organic” and not a corporate education.

    Word of mouth is the test of success not some expensive glossy brochure to sell education!!


  • Rachel – thanks for answering my question with lots more questions. :) The answer is: I don’t know. Definitely Hebrew @ GEC is far better than previous options at public schools. So if 30 public school students take this up, most people would agree that is a success. What if 30 Jewish school students move to GEC – is that a success?

    abc makes a good point. This is changing the landscape and definition of “Jewish education” in Melbourne, and introducing new options. As a result, some families/kids will end up with *more* of the stuff called “Jewish education”, and other families will end up with less. In terms of metrics like continuity and strength of Jewishness, we will only really know in 10-20 years how successful this project has been.

  • abc says:

    or how damaging…

  • Hi David,

    I don’t think Hebrew and Holocaust constitutes a Jewish education but Hebrew makes it a lot easier to get a Jewish education out of school hours or later on in life.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Thanks abc, David and Rachel. Thanks for the questions.

    Did you guys read my last article about defining Jewish Education?

    abc, given I think I know who you are I’d really be interested in a senior educator’s perspective. Hebrew and Holocaust is certainly a huge start in the right direction irrespective of your views on Jewish education.

    However in collaboration with UJEB next year we will also be able to celebrate Purim, Channukah, Yom Haaztmaut, and even Channukah ON CAMPUS IN SCHOOL TIME. These on not Yom Tov chags and can easily be celebrated culturally like they are at Bialik. I wouldn’t be surprised if we even have your beloved fancy dress parade on Purim next year abc.

    David, the metric so far was establishment. Pashut I know. So tick that.

    Beyond that, immediate measures are that this model is now free, completely accessible irrespective of your definition of a Jew, and clearly legitimate and self-sustainable.

    The target of this movement is the State system, not the private system. The Private Schools will take care of themselves.

    The questions will be… will Mckinnon copy us given the School is at least 30% Jewish and Valkstone gets more Jews than Glicks?
    Will Brighton High recognise the rights of the Jewish kids coming from gardenvale which anecdotally has year levels that are 80% Jewish? Will Bentleigh High realise that they have an enormous Israeli population?

    I’m not sure that the Private School system would care about any of these questions as these kids were never private school possibilities just based on cost alone.

    And the metrics for success from here for the Movement will be based on continual improvement… on how the concept, activities and interest grows; not spurious lag indicators in 20 years time. What the Glen Eira model becomes will be driven by those participating in it. That is community empowerment.

    My personal conclusion on the Jewish Education front is that there is no gold standard against which to compare anything. King David is not Jewish by Yeshiva standards. Yeshiva struggles against Adass standards. Mount Scopus and Yavneh are considered extremist by Bialik kids on so on… Addass and Bialik wouldn’t speak to each other.

    So the measure of success… strength to strength. Continual growth, extension, community participation and unity; and clear school and Government support. The rest is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Yaron says:

    I would like to hear your side of your own question, with relation to your family’s scholarship program – how do you define success?

    How does the Glen Eira program meet with your definitions of success?

  • Mandi Katz says:

    I think they are fair questions (how do you measure success, how Jewish is the schooling?) but whatever the answers, there is the critical issue that the present Jewish day school system is simply not accessible to everyone so sometimes “good enough” has to be good enough.

    I speak as a parent who sent kids to Jewish schools from their first day of kinder and tried like anything to keep them there , but you have to be wealthy to have 2, 3 + kids at Jewish schools from go to whoa if they aren’t eligible for scholarships or bursaries. And the expected wrench of moving kids from their Jewish day school to Glen Eira was actually really smooth; they settled happily and enjoying a more diverse environment.

    Of course the integrated approach of the day schools (Jewish stuff throughout the curriculum and informal boosting formal) has advantages but we have to be honest that it is just not available to everyone and hats off to people who are doing their best to create alternatives.

  • Yaron – do you mean “how does our grant program define success?” Our program is for parents who want to keep/move their children in/to a Jewish school, but struggle with the financial burden. This is just one market segment. We exclude families who would send their children to a Jewish school no matter what the cost, or who are receiving fee relief to the point that a grant will not affect their choice of school.

    So our definition of success is (a) identifying the market segment and getting them to apply for a grant, and (b) allocating grants where we think we have made a difference in their lives and made it easier for them to choose a Jewish school.

    The market segment for GEC consists broadly of two groups: (1) those who, if they had the means, would send their children to a Jewish school, and (2) those who are comfortable sending their kids to GEC irrespective of their financial means. Our grant program may be able to help some parents in the first category.

    It could be that parents in that category are swayed towards a Jewish school by grant programs like ours, and swayed towards public school by Hebrew programs like GEC’s. No-one will suggest that the Jewish education at GEC is as extensive as that of a Jewish school. It’s just one of many trade-offs parents have to make.

  • Yaron says:


    Thanks for your response.

    However the question then becomes is attendance a proof of success. Merely completing schooling at a Jewish day school, yet being ignorant of the basics is not success.

    If there is someone from a Jewish school who moves to Glen Eira and their level of Jewish education goes up, is that not a success?

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Just so everyone has the full picture:

    Kids at Glen Eira next year will have:

    1. More than 30 minutes of formal Hebrew per day and permanent Hebrew teacher on staff – all completely paid for by our Government taxes
    2. A coordinated student body through JSN that meets once a week to review culturally significant issues
    3. 2 camps per year run by Israeli shlichot through UJEB
    4. Recognition of Yom Tovs in the Schools planning
    5. Celebration of cultural festivals on campus
    6. Access to Religion and Society as of 2014 where the students can explore a range of issues more deeply and continue to study “Judaism” to year 12
    7. Before and after school religious and spiritual activities on campus including invitation to attend model Seders and Purim parties from all of the local synagogues who I’m sure will be looking to recruit the GEC families
    8. Formal Holocaust memorial assembly
    9. A Hebrew radio program on the school radio
    10. A network of ever-growing Jewish friends
    11. Ability to present on culture and tolerance days
    12. Hopefully partnerships with Israel programs in years 9, 10 and perhaps 11 (including the March of the Living, the 6 week BJE program and more…)

    And I could go on.

    Guys, don’t get too simplistic in what is happening here.
    The idea of Jewish continuity is so much more complex than learning the number 4 by drinking 4 glasses of wine. We are talking about kids genuinely loving their identity by being able to express it in a multi-cultural domain, having it respected and reinforced. Having an active community on a young adult campus and having issues around diversity, connection and differentiation discussed and championed.

    And continual expansion and improvement as time will go on, with the likelhood that the reall infux of Jewish students is still about 3 years away when the Gen X parent’s have kids of high school age…

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Eds: Comment removed. We welcome your point of view, but please refrain from unprovoked personal attacks, and please express your point of view in a civil and respectful tone. It’s a new year, and hopefully we can all maintain this throughout ה’תשע”ג and beyond.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Dan, I think this is you trying to wish the Movement well. Thanks.

    You’re being way too hard on David. He and I have had many really important discussion on these issues and I’ve always appreciated both David’s support and his provocative questions.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Sorry I must also add for the record that through his support for Lamdeni Hebrew School, David has contributed significantly the wonderful after hours education that my children and hundred of others rely on every week.

    I have no doubt that, once their new premises are complete, the relationship between Lamdeni and GEC will be amazing at Secondary School level – and will fill a lot of teenage services gaps that have been identified here and in previous discussions.

  • Yaron says:


    Is there a direct or semi-official connection between Lamdeni and GEC, or is it merely another communal resource you personally are using for your children?

  • Things seem to have digressed after a question about measuring success. If a child completes Jewish schooling and is ignorant of the basics, then a failure has occurred. If a child moves to GEC and this results in an increase in their Jewish education, that’s a success. But they are micro failures and successes, and as such are not helpful in working out if a major initiative is or isn’t successful.

    We probably have to wait until the next major community survey to find out the effects of these tectonic shifts in the Jewish education landscape.

  • Hi David,

    Actually a cross-sectional survey like Gen08 would not be a good way of measuring the impact of the GEC initiative. For example, let’s imagine that another survey like Gen08 was conducted in 20 years (2032). If Jewish identification had decreased, how much would be because of underlying trends in Jewish identification (this happens in all immigrant communities over time) and how much because of school education? If Jewish Day School attendence was lower, how much would be because of economic trends, how much would be because parents felt less Jewishly inclined, and how much would be because of the GEC initiative. This could not be teased out by a Gen08 type survey.

    We can ask the same kinds of questions without a survey. Is the GEC initiative causing people to move their kids from private schools to state schools, or are there already increasing numbers of Jewish kids at state schools? Realistically, there is always a bit of movement both ways. The GEC initiative has happened because of an existing (and growing?) segment of the community who are not in the day school system. Some additional families are likely to move to state schools because of the GEC initiative.

    The best way of evaluating whether the GEC model or the Jewish Day School model is better for these ‘in-between’ families would be for a grant system such as your family’s one to randomly allocate potential applicants to one of two groups: one group gets the grant to put toward school fees, the other gets a grant of the same value but to spend on extra-curricular Jewish education and sends their kids to GEC. The families have to commit to being part of an ongoing evaluation where the kids are interviewed every 5 years or so about their Jewish identity.

    Interestingly, the Jewish Day School model has not always been around as a majority-model either. Sometime between my parents’ generation and my generation, a big shift toward Jewish Day Schools occured. This happened for largely economic reasons. Its effect has never been independently evaluated.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Yaron there will not be any formal links between GEC and clearly religious or political groups. As you say, just good relationships and choices for kids in their own time.

    I’m concerned that the discussion here would blame the GEC model for a kid leaving a private school. There are not that many scenarios for them leaving:
    1. They couldn’t afford it.
    2. They could afford it but it didn’t meet their interests.
    3. Overall benefit to their kids the parents thought GEC is better.
    4. They thought the private system had failed them for a very specific reason.
    In all these cases is anyone seriously telling me that the family would be better off “trapped” or optionless. That is strange thinking. We are so lucky that the systems will be able to act a safety nets for each other. If a kid doesn’t like GEC then they can fall back to the private system – and vice versa.

  • The GEC model provides a compelling reason for some parents to move their children from a private Jewish school. Some Jewish schools may “blame” it for the loss of students, but that is more likely driven by self interest.

    We have a very diverse community and the fact is that Jewish schools are not for everyone. As I’ve written elsewhere on this topic, the GEC model should be commended for introducing more choice into the gaps in the spectrum of Jewish education options in our community. If that puts pressure on Jewish schools to justify themselves to the market, then good!

  • letters in the age says:

    Jewish schools to justify themselves to the market..

    Bialik and Adass would never talk to each other….

    Snobbish and pretentious attitudes emerge here from institutionalised segregation

    Do a 7 up series from each school and see how these children develop with their identity in each stage of their lives

    Id love to see that!!


  • Jonny Schauder says:

    LOL Letters a 7 up series would be brilliant!!! You know similarly one could just look at and compare say 10 different random case studies would also be a good topic gor someones psychology honours thesis! The difficult people are cases like mine. I went to both Scopus and Mckinnon. And I’d like me kids to do at least one year in the private system each just for variation and exposure. Complex huh!?!

    On a language point, it’s interesting that David keeps calling the private system “Jewish” schools and I keep emphasising “private” schools. Is this significant?

    I believe so because I want Glen Eira to be a “Jewish” school ultimately. Now before I start getting hate mail for that let me explain. What we are trying to do is create a State environment where Jewish identity has the infrastructure to be nutured; and a student body that has genuine community. When I went to Mckinnon, many thought of it as a Jewish School because the Jewish population was large and active. A big community of Jewish kids had travelled the ormond primary, youth movement, mckinnon journey as a collective. This is true still today. The Vaulkstone Jewish community is an increadibly active and passionate collective based on South African immigration and their kids will together go to Mckinnon. The impact had been so strong that Vaulkstone now had one of the tightest zones in Melbourne. Similarly South Caulfield primary has such Jewish popularity that again parents “buy in the zone” to be part of it. Caulfield North is essentially half Jewish and Half French… It’s had string infrastructure and community to support the interests of both groups.

    So to me a “Jewish school” is one committed to helping kids further their identity… Which is what Glen Eira are doing. OK you can do Torah or prayer on campus. But families interested will do those things before and after school and the school is happy to allow them space on campus out of hours to do that. I’m working with Spiritgrow to look at the feasibility of running our Spiritudlity prgram for teens twice a week after school, effectively making it the last lesson on tte day on Tuesdays and Thursdays for example. The kids would just walk back over to the Hebrew Centre for a final hour from 3.30-4.30. With all of this, surely at some point Glen Eira will have earnt the right to be called at least a school for Jews, if not a Jewish School. And yes when that happens people really will be able to analyse their choice between a private school and a public school. I hope this does two things: strengthens the identity of those who could never afford the private school fees; and confirms the commitment to the Jewish aspect of those that can afford the fees. Those who straddle that divide may send their kids to both at different times….

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Sorry about the typos. Writing on an iPhone with chubby fingers!!

  • Alex Fein says:

    Johnny, kol hakavod on all your hard work and its coming to fruition.

    There’s one point I’m not quite clear on: with that final hour of Jewish study twice a week that you envisage, would that occur on the GEC campus? If so, who would run the programme?

  • Hi Alex,

    I think one of the advantages of the GEC model compared to the existing private Jewish schools is that it could potentially accomodate a range of different approaches to Judaism. Everyone does Hebrew and in the future Religion and Society together, but for the afterschool activities, I don’t see why there couldn’t be multiple options depending on demand. These don’t all have to start right away – those starting first will be the ones that the current parents putting in the hard yards to set them up want. But there’s no reason why if another set of parents wanted a different flavour of programs in the future, the same infrastructure and relationshsips couldn’t be put to that use.

    I should also have said congratulations and kol hakavod!

  • letters in the age says:


    Its not that complex Johnny….

    I get it and you!!

    Congratulations and keep that idea afloat

  • letters in the age says:

    Ethnocentric values

    Keep that word in mind Johnny et al

    Good luck with it all and i hope to see this lovely project on the A.B.C or S.B.S soon!!


  • Alex Fein says:

    Rachel, that makes a lot of sense.

    Jonny, can you envisage a time when there would be sufficient diversity of Jewish students at GEC to run multiple after school Jewish studies streams?

    If things did get to that stage, would Sephardi or Reform Progressive parents, for example, be able to organise for study streams relevant to them if there were sufficient numbers?

  • Hi Alex,
    The other advantage is that you don’t even need a critical mass all at the one school. If there were a group of parents with kids at a range of state schools, they could still collaborate to start another option.

  • Jonny – I should’ve called them “Private Jewish Schools”. It would be fantastic for their to be a “Public Jewish School” (similar to charter schools in the US and the UK model). We have to be careful choosing a term to describe a hybrid like GEC – “Jewish-friendly Public School” might imply that other public schools aren’t, and also can potentially alienate all those non-Jews who attend.

    Having multiple streams/programs to give parents more choice is a fantastic idea. Something like a set of after-school Jewish electives.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Hi Alex Rach and David
    yes that afterschool vision is exactly the model we should be shooting for. Reform kids get reform prgrams. Chassidic kids get chabad… On campus; after or before school. Arms length relationships to the school, coordinated by the parents and providers. All do core Hebrew, RS and events together. It’d be great!

  • Alex Fein says:

    Jonny, that sounds pretty fabulous. Once again: kol hakavod.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Thanks Alex. Its been an amazing journey from the day we launched the idea at a Spiritgrow breakfast with about 30 GEC parents, politicians and other volunteers. So many people have contributed and continue to.

    People ask why it took so long for the community to get an idea like this up and going… I don’t know… very strange… but it still perplexes me that Mckinnon and other schools aren’t responsive to their Jewish communities.

    Perhaps its because those communities have not spoken up or asked the question…

    Or perhaps the reality is that the significant generational shift in approach and mindset to all these issues is only immerging now…

  • letters in the age says:

    Exactly !!

    Why hasn’t this been done sooner?

    Status Quo mindset and not thinking outside of the square!!


    Sheik Yerbouti

    Side 2 Track 7

    Play it Jonny and enjoy it!!


  • Pussy riot 2012 says:

    Jewish princess song right???

  • letters in the age says:



  • Jonny Schauder says:

    An interesting observation was shared with me over the weekend.

    A person following this blog suggested that people like “abc” should be focused on the private schools competing with other private schools, not criticising GEC.

    They said, which I thought was quite interesting, that the growing Jewish population of kids at Wesley, Shelford and other private schools really suggests the Jewish private schools need to re-assess.

    Why would a family choose Wesley over a Jewish Private school? That family is the JDS core market – no difference in fees, prestige or location… so it’s just the Jewish bit? In fact the JDS produces better VCE results… Should be priority one to bring these kids back in! I’ll give abc a measure of success – get one of the Wesley kids back to your school. David, maybe it’s time to measure that statistic in GEN08 or similar. How many kids return from other private schools to the JDS?

    Instead, people like abc spend their time trying to convince less wealthy Jewish families that they should struggle financially everyday by making lifestyle cuts, having less children or taking ongoing handouts to be part of something they simply can’t afford, as pleasant as it may be.

    Because they are not going to a private school, abc then calls the Jewish Education that those families access “second rate” Jewish Education… see her comments on previous articles… it’s a disgrace.

    Condescending to or criticising less financial families rather than engaging the families that have made a very clear choice in the Private system seems convenient and lazy at best, rather than ideological or strategic as they’d have us believe.

    So on record I return to the intent of the GEC program which is to fix and compete within the State system: improving cultural subject choices, creating competition for Jewish students between State Schools, encouraging on campus cultural and community activities, enable better relationships with out of hours providers, pressuring decision makers to allocate resources and reinterpret policy, offering support services, and building community and infrastructure on campus.

    If any parents from Mckinnon or Bentleigh are reading this, surely this is a good time to start something up at your school?

  • letters in the age says:

    ….”Instead, people like abc spend their time trying to convince less wealthy Jewish families that they should struggle financially everyday by making lifestyle cuts, having less children or taking ongoing handouts to be part of something they simply can’t afford, as pleasant as it may be……”

    Middle Class guilt/sensibilities maybe and the inferiority complex Jonny…..?

    Many Asian, middle- class families send their kids to great schools on scholarship and with the money they save , they invest in property and other important factors for their future……..

    That’s smart!!!

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    I actually feel very sad for those families that do let themselves get caught in that cycle of guilt and inferiority Letters.

    So many of my generation (35-45 year olds) are in that loop. Many went to JDS themselves. And I have that many discussions with younger folks who tell me they are stopping at two children to afford the fees… define Jewish continuity huh!?!

    The old “education is priceless and the most important thing you’ll give your kids” guilt stained motto followed quickly by the … so fork over 20k for year 7 … we’ll even cover the first 2000… and a third of the $5000 bus ticket fees … It is just so out of date…

    And as I continue to say, I can’t fix that system. The price tag in my view is fair… just whether you can afford it or not?

  • letters in the age says:

    The price tag in my view is fair……..

    Please elaborate on that point!

    Sounds interesting….

    I live in an area that is seriously very Anglo and see the jews here happier and less neurotic.

    They live here to get away from that guilt and Jews of that mentality..


    Re-branding is required that’s all folks!!

    ducks for cover#

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Yes, all elite private schools charge around the same unless they are Catholic sponsored. The Jewish Schools are positioned appropriately for price as independent schools compared to Scotch, Wesley, Firbank, MLC etc… In Victoria the JDS also comprise almost the entire top 10 VCE results for the State… so no arguments on price.

    For the most part they also maintain magnificent grounds and facilities like drama centres and pools etc…

  • letters in the age says:

    Thanks for that clarification!!


  • Yaron says:


    I think that affordability is not the only issue here. I think that the state system is one that should be looked at more closely by many in the community irrespective of cost.

    1. The circumstances surrounding the schools now are vastly different from when the schools were first set up. I would imagine that the proportion of an average wage required to fund the school fees would be constantly rising. Today how many people are relying on their parents/grandparents to fund their children’s education? How many people are working extended hours to pay the fees, rather than spending time at home with the kids?

    2. People claim that for the purposes of continuity there is a necessity to maintain the JDS, but does it actually help in this area? Not according to any of the research.
    It was not that long ago that many Jews (even Orthodox Jews) were populating the state system, and yet they remained committed to their Judaism. I would imagine that the Jewish schools would be quite afraid of engaging in any research that would investigate their successes in this area.

    3. With children in state system it would actually force parents to be active if they want to pass Judaism to their children. Here the research internationally as well as Gen08 is clear. The home life is the best way of ensuring continuity. At present the JDS can be used as a surrogate, and parents can feel that they are off the hook. Without the JDS to back them up, parents would have to take their children to shule or other communal organisations, engage them with Jewish knowledge in the home, and show that Judaism is more important than ‘just another subject’ at school.

    4. It is also possible for this structure to become more than a school experience. It could build a strong community within the school environment.
    If some parents want their children to have more Jewish education, the parents who are capable in that area could volunteer to help small groups of children. Parents who have expertise in other areas (say maths) could do the same in their areas.

    The school would become a genuine community and the after school Jewish education could be the central pillar. We could use the wealth of knowledge in the community to our advantage rather than outsourcing it to the JDS.

    5. As to your claims that the JDS are the best in the state. This is true based on VCE results (although not according to NAPLAN, where last I checked they were below average), but we must not forget the thousands spent on external tutoring. And the research coming out at the moment tends to minimise the educational advantages of private schools., Perhaps someone should do some research as to whether our communal money could be better spent outside the schools and whether it makes most sense, both monetarily and communally to follow your lead at GEC for the broader community.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Yaron, I am just so excited by everything you’ve written here. No one is anti the JDS but your questions and observations are just so critical. I of course agree with it all!!

    The change of mindset, both in investment terms, and in terms of what constitutes a “community and family approach to schooling” is just inspiring!

    I personally believe we can do a lot more in the public system. Mate I’m not sure if you’re a local but keep posing the questions!

    And most critically I agree that parents working less and spending more time with their kids is the greatest challenge of our generation; and the greatest gift you can give your kids is to do these Jewish activities WITH them… that’s the key to continuity.

  • letters in the age says:

    Melbourne High is a great example of this!!

    Gorgeous school btw

  • letters in the age says:

    Billy Bragg on Q and A

    The light has shone well on Australias economy

    Get education right now for your nations future!!


  • Jonny Schauder says:

    emailed to me…
    Average fee rise of 5% for day schools
    JANUARY 27, 2012 · NO COMMENTS
    AS THE 2012 school year begins, parents of Melbourne’s Jewish day school students are braced for fee rises, with an average increase of 5.1 per cent on last year.

    The steepest rise was recorded at Mount Scopus Memorial College, at 6.7 per cent; a surge Rabbi James Kennard said was due to paying teachers premium rates.

    “One of our highest priorities is the need to attract and retain for your children the best teachers possible. We remain committed to paying salary scales exceeding those paid to teachers in Victorian state schools,” he wrote in a letter to parents.

    He also noted extra-curricular activities and the freezing of government funding as factors.

    Mount Scopus charges more than $27,000 for year 12 tuition as does Bialik College, which recorded the second-highest rise at 5.8 per cent.

    Private day schools popular with Jewish students, including Wesley College, Caulfield Grammar and Lauriston Girls, charge between $22,000 and $26,000 for year 12. Fees at Wesley College rose higher than any Jewish day school this year, at 7.6 per cent.

    Acting principal of Bialik Gary Zelleman attributed costs at his school to the expansion of programs and improved technology across the school.

    “We are introducing an e-learning program, which is a one-off additional cost absorbed into fees for year levels 7, 8 and 9. Each child is going to have their own notebook. We are fully integrating technology into the classroom rather than conducting standalone lessons,” he said.

    In primary school, Sholem Aleichem is best bang for a parent’s buck at $9200 for grade 6 – less than half of the cost of some other schools. Yet it still recorded a 5.2 per cent increase for the year.

    The King David School recorded a five per cent increase, rising to $24,373 for year 12, noting however that fees were inclusive of camps, swimming, excursions and capital levy.

    Yeshivah and Beth Rivkah colleges, which receive the most government funding at 74 per cent of the schools’ total income, still recorded a four per cent increase.

    While the colleges would not disclose their fees for this year, a spokeswoman assured The AJN that the prices parents were expected to pay would not be a barrier to the community receiving quality Jewish and general education.

    “We have a robust fee remissions program so parents are only charged fees according to their individual capacity to pay,” she said.

    While year 12 tuition at Leibler Yavneh College was also more than $24,000 this year, principal Roy Steinman said the 3.9 per cent increase in fees was the lowest in five years.

    “This reflects our desire to make Jewish education affordable within operational constraints,” he said.


  • letters in the age says:

    Great pr and spin by these Jewish schools

    Thanks Jonny

    Should we put Louise Adler on the board then as our very own Jewish success story??

    Why did Bialik sack their principal not long ago??

    Dont forget that little scandal

  • Shira Wenig says:

    Hi Jonny,
    Kol hakavod on your efforts & achievements. One doesn’t have to think the new GEC model is for everyone in order to acknowledge that it’s opening up important new options in the community.

    I was wondering whether you have looked at establishing links with any of the Jewish youth movements. In my experience, youth groups are critical for Jewish identity, whether you go to a jewish day school or not. (I think this was kind of borne out in the gen08 survey too.) Partly because kids often internalise informal education better and relate to madrichim who are younger (and cooler) than their teachers; also because it provides the potential for ongoing affiliation, with gap year programs and the opportunity to be involved as madrichim at a time when many might otherwise be getting lost in the uni scene.
    Also the youth groups might provide other after school options eg shiurim & events for chagim.

    Do many of the jewish kids at GEC already attend youth movements? Or have you spoken to the youth groups about visiting the school and actively canvassing there?

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Shira, thank you. Yes the potential for zyc collaboration is infinite isn’t it?! What is exciting about the up coming year is that I hope all Jewish groups like the youth movements make an active play for he glen eira kids interest. Along with Jewish scouts my perception is that he current Oort are very involved. But given I predict a significant escalation in enrolments I expect we can do a lot more!!
    As it stands with UJEB on board the informal education opportunities on campus, after school and on camps looks really positive. We are working very closely with Danni Miller of the Jewish Students Network to extend that element of the design.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    As a conflict resolved it’s very sad this couldn’t have been resolved privately.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Sorry that should say, as a conflict resolver…

  • Mirboo North Muse says:

    This is a very interesting ‘debate’. What about children who have no access to Jewish day schools because they live out of suburban Melbourne, for example. How can you maintain a connection with other young people in the Jewish community if you are two hours’ drive away? My daughter was taken to Israel for her Bat Mitzvah by her grandmother, and learns Hebrew by skype with an Israeli teacher. We could not find any adequate long distance education in Victoria. I would like to know what options my son has – any advice? They go to the local public school which is a far cry from Metropolitan Melbourne. Could they link into lessons at A school in Melb through skype??? teleconference???? What do you think????

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Mirboo, Sounds like you’re doing a great job in educating your child. Geography is a whole additional and critical provocation…

    May I suggest that there are some interesting school holiday activities that your child might enjoy – for example Spiritgrow are holding a “cooking camp” for Bar and Batmitvah kids a week in January that you could aim to get involved in as a family. And similarly the youth movement camps might satisfy some social and/or spiritual interests. And also getting biletted for Maccabbi carnival is always a good experience.

    That being said, I think there is a very untapped and exciting opportunity for the community to start up a distance Jewish Education School that meets regularly “on-line”… worthy of further thinking!! Any thoughts on that Mirboo?

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