Whilst the focus for the community in the last twenty years has been on putting enormous resources into developing the day school system in the UK, the result has been that the supplementary system has lagged behind in every sense. One reason for this deficiency of resourcing is that the community has been focusing their attention on the goal of having almost all Jewish children in Jewish day schools by 2020. A consultative research project has taken place to determine recommendations to take to the UJIA to invest in a strategy which addresses the needs of those children who attend supplementary Jewish schools and not Jewish day schools, as the locus for their Jewish education.
Stage One was comprised of desk research to determine the history, demography, and quantitative data related to the field of supplementary Jewish schooling in the UK.
Stage Two involved interviews with professionals and lay leaders throughout the different denominational sectors (Liberal, Reform, Masorti, and Orthodox). Fourteen individual semi-structured interviews were conducted over a four week period.
Stage Three put theory and research into practice. A series of group meetings attended by key professionals and stakeholders working in central agencies and synagogues in supplementary education across the community took place. The purpose of these meetings was to work towards recommendations for a strategy to re-energize the cheder system in the UK.
At present, one year later, such a strategy is already in place to address the outcomes of the research.