Glen Eira College dumps Hebrew

January 25, 2019 by David Marlow
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Glen Eira College (GEC) in Melbourne’s inner south has dropped Hebrew, despite having a significant Jewish student population.

GEC is situated in the most concentrated Jewish suburb in Victoria, in the local government area with the highest Jewish population in Australia.  About 55% of the Jewish population of Victoria live in the City of Glen Eira.

Ruth Gordon, GEC School Council President, stated, “The program’s cessation is due to lack of staff and no other reason.  There has been strong support from the College Council and the College staff for running Hebrew if staff were available.”

“The College Council has strongly supported offering the Hebrew language at the College and continues to do so.  We are proud of our close-knit diverse multicultural community which supports our children to feel connected and achieve their best in their school studies and in life.”

Principal Sheereen Kindler, GEC Principal, stated, “Our school has a proud and diverse community with over 40 language groups represented.”

“Glen Eira College has strong ties to our Jewish community and we are the only Victorian Government school to have offered Hebrew language studies within the curriculum. “

“Unfortunately, the school has had ongoing challenges in recruiting a qualified Hebrew teacher, and as a result, the school will not offer classes in 2019.  We are investigating options to support students in their Hebrew language studies through an after-hours partner program.”

Jonny Schauder, a parent at the school who had helped drive the introduction of Hebrew at the school in the first place, has challenged the decision and escalated his concerns through the school, to the Education Department and to members of Parliament, including the local Member for Caulfield, David Southwick.

Mr Schauder was extremely disappointed with the decision, given that the subject had been a “core of the School’s branding that has seen the school thrive and enrolments leap ahead” for nearly seven years.

He advised that 70 students had been enrolled in Hebrew over three-year levels, but the program had still been axed.

Mr Schauder stated, “There is no clear, proven or objective basis to the decision; There has been literally no processes followed for the decision.”

“There was no evidence of the role having been advertised. No evidence that a proper recruitment policy was adhered to.  It seems like there was some sort of hidden agenda.”

“Apart from disadvantaging my son, Hebrew is of core interest to the community in which Glen Eira College is located. My purpose is to have this decision reversed for 2019.”

Mr Schauder challenges the claims from the school that the only reason for stopping Hebrew was the inability to find a teacher.  He suggests that the previous incumbent Hebrew teacher was available, that the United Jewish Education Board  (UJEB) had offered teaching resources, and he and the community had offered at least five candidates for teaching to the school who had either been rejected or not pursued.

Mr Schauder stated, “One of the core pillars of the School’s strategic four-year plan was student and community engagement clearly making this decision strategic in nature as it risks and threatens community and engagement in the school. And makes Jewish kids feel targeted. As well as significantly changing the school’s brand given it sits in the heart of the Jewish Community. My son faces the limitation of his opportunity to continue Hebrew.”

The community is supportive of Mr Schauder’s concerns.

Jennifer Huppert, President of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) stated, “JCCV is disappointed that a school with such a significant percentage of Jewish students is not able to offer Hebrew language studies.

The Victorian Department of Education & Training (DET) has supported the decision of the school.  Simon Hamilton, Area Executive Director, DET noted that the school had been unsuccessful in recruiting a Hebrew teacher and that the community consultation process was appropriate.

He stated, “The operational decisions of the school are complex and rest with the Principal.”

Nevertheless, there is hope for a resurrection of Hebrew in 2020, with Ms Kindler advising J-Wire, “We are committed to offering students the broadest possible language program and will review this with a view to re-introducing Hebrew language studies in 2020, pending student demand and staff resourcing.”

Mr Schauder stated, “2020 will happen if the community and UJEB are on board, and sufficient pressure and momentum are in place.”

J-Wire contacted the Minister of Education’s office for comment, but no response has been received at this stage.


2 Responses to “Glen Eira College dumps Hebrew”
  1. Adrian Jackson says:

    English is now the International as well as Australia’s main language. Forget about all these minor languages that are only spoken by a few thousand or a few million people.

  2. Tom Riefen says:

    Totally support the school – language teachers are so difficult to find and just because they are qualified doesn’t mean they are suited for the job. Mr Schauder is posting on Jseek wanting Hebrew teachers to apply – but I wouldn’t want my child taught by any teacher , if they are not suitable they are not suitable.. here are plenty of schools in Victoria that this has happened to , another example is the bilingual program in Footscray, they are unable to find a suitable teacher to teach, the principal refuses to employ any teacher that applies. We need to support the school not back then into a corner. There are plenty of opportunities for the 70 students to learn Hebrew outside of school..

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