Introduction

 Leo Baeck College aims to provide programmes of study of high academic standard with a view to furthering Jewish religious and academic studies as well as fostering and advancing the study of Judaism and Jewish education.

With this view in mind it aims to encourage, recruit, and accept students on the basis that:

  • they appear to have the motivation, academic ability and attributes to flourish, fulfil their potential and achieve the level required to succeed in their programmes of study
  • they accept and subscribe to the ethos of the College
  • they are willing to be part of and contribute to the intellectual, religious and cultural life of the College

Where possible the College aims to widen participation and to support access to its programmes by working to attract candidates from the UK and abroad. This is done in order to create as vibrant and broad a student body as possible and to offer access to those wishing to learn about Judaism who might not be able to do so because of their life circumstances.

 

Context

Leo Baeck College was established in 1956 with the purpose of training rabbis, educators and lay leaders. Following the destruction of much of Continental Jewry in the Shoah, Leo Baeck College was set up to begin the process of re-educating and recreating the leadership for the Progressive Jewish communities of the UK and those in Europe.

Right from the start, the College has endeavoured to be an open and welcoming institution striving for inclusivity and participation. In addition to academic and vocational programmes, it runs extra-mural programmes for the general public and provides training for synagogues, Jewish supplementary schools and Jewish communal organisations. It also has a track record in interfaith work and welcomes students of all faiths.

In 1967 the College took the decision to accept women for ordination. This was followed in 1984 by a decision to accept lesbian and gay students for ordination.

The age of the students at the College ranges from early 20s to 70s. The College welcomes and supports mature students.

The College is committed to a policy of equal opportunities. It seeks to ensure that there is no discrimination against any candidate or staff with protected characteristics (as defined by the equality Act 2010).

 

Values the College is committed to:

  • Student-centred – The College prides itself in its student-centred approach. The small size of the College means that students get individual attention and support and that tailor-made solutions are used to enable each student to flourish.
  • Formation and Development – Attention is given to student formation and development. Areas focused on include academic, vocational, intra-personal, interpersonal and spiritual. Each student has a personal tutor for this purpose.
  • Leadership skills and employability – Students are trained with a view to helping them prepare for leadership roles. Programmes combine academic studies with transferable and vocational skills.
  • Public engagement – The College aims to offer education and training which enhances and meets the needs to the Jewish progressive community as well as working for the betterment of the wider community.
  • Flexibility – The College adopts flexible modes of delivery, as appropriate. It currently teaches one of its six awards using blended methods, thereby enabling students outside the London area to study at the College. On-line learning is also used where it can support students on its other courses. Cognisant of students’ need to juggle different personal and work responsibilities during their studies, the College is flexible about enabling students to take part-time studies. One of its six courses is offered in the evenings to enable students to study while working.

 

Recruitment

  • The College employs a Recruitment Officer whose purpose is to reach out to prospective students interested in Jewish Studies and studies leading to ordination at the College. The role goes beyond providing information and aims to establish personal contact with the prospective student, encourage them and help them manage their expectations prior to application.
  • The College has open days and enables interested prospective students to sit in classes prior to application. Informal meetings with heads of department are also encouraged to ensure that students’ questions and concerns are dealt with as soon as possible.
  • Faculty are encouraged to visit synagogues and participate in community days, workshops and conferences where they engage in public speaking in their subject areas. These are opportunities to talk about the College and its courses, thus raising the College’s profile and helping to recruit potential students.
  • Many of the rabbis teaching at the College also have pulpits and are actively working in synagogues and communities. They often act as a conduit for identifying and encouraging prospective students.
  • The College works with the Reform and Liberal Movements and Directors and Heads of Education in the synagogues to identify supplementary school teachers who need training and invite them to apply to the College.
  • The extra-mural programmes can also act as a way of introducing the College to potential future students.
  • Graduates of the College help publicise their experiences of studying at the College by speaking at events and to prospective students.

 

Admissions

  • The College has a fair and transparent recruitment and admissions process. Students’ motivations, interests, work experience as well as scholastic background are considered by the admissions’ teams.
  • The College accepts non-traditional entry to its courses for students aged 21 and over who do not satisfy the normal entry requirements.
  • The College has processes for recognising AP(E)L and APL.

 

Subsidised learning and bursaries

  • A high number of students receive bursaries and living stipends to enable them to train as rabbis. These bursaries are made available by the Reform and Liberal movements.
  • Courses in Jewish education are set below the national average to widen participation.
  • The College enables students to pay in instalments
  • The College works with students to enable them to apply for grants from external bodies.
  • The College has a small fund available for students in Jewish Studies to support language tuition, therapy and travel to conferences and workshops.

 

Student support/learning support

  • The College aims to support student learning in a number of ways. The College runs a number of skills workshops. They are aimed at easing the transition of students returning to studies after a break and skilling up students in areas such as writing academically, correct use of grammar, referencing, researching, using on-line resources, etc.   Subject tutors provide students with detailed feedback on assessments which are given in an iterative and developmental way. Students can submit draft papers to tutors for feedback. Personal tutors are made available to each student. Studies at the College include a high number of contact hours to support student learning.

 

Support for disabled students and students with SpLD

  • All students are screened for SpLD as part of the enrolment process. The purpose is to enable early identification of any learning difficulties with a view to supporting the student. Students are also encouraged to disclose as part of the application process and later on as students,
  • The College seeks to ensure through its policies and procedures that students with disabilities and SpLD are able to demonstrate that they meet the set learning outcomes. This includes considering adjustments to learning, teaching and assessment arrangements.
  • The College works with SpLD experts to help support students needing specialist help.

 

Data on achievement and progression

Progression and destination statistics for all programmes are high. The figures for 2016-17 are: 100% progression for students on all five awards. All seven students completing their MA in Applied Rabbinic Theology as part of their training for Ordination found immediate employment in the UK and abroad.

 

Summary

These are some of the measures that have been put in place to remove barriers, encourage access and enable participation of students interested in pursuing Jewish Studies and Jewish Education as a higher degree.

 

March 2018