The VCE results for 2016 have been released, with much fanfare. Again, the Jewish schools have ranked very highly in the state, jostling for position in the top 10, and the best performing students in each school are among the very top in the state. We are spoiled for choice when it comes to Jewish schools, and each caters to a specific segment of the community. Whether all of this is good or bad is not the focus of this article.
When choosing a school, parents look at a number of factors, and certainly take note of how the school positions itself, and what it emphasises and seeks to achieve in educating children. No matter what the school tells you, I think it is worth taking notice of the way how the school announces its success and its achievements. Looking closely at the VCE result announcements is a great way to compare the schools – literally side by side – and see what is really important to them.
I have analysed the six advertisements in last week’s Australian Jewish News, and chose categories of elements in them that highlight the differences between the schools. The category ‘Ma Nishtana‘ are for features of the advertisement that stand out as different to those of all the other schools. Given the amount of space available in a quarter-page ad, I felt the choice to include a statement from the principal as worth noting. The statements about future plans of students are very different and in my opinion say a lot about what is important to the school.
|School||Ma Nishtana||Quote Principal||Future plans for students||Call to Action|
|King David||Class photo; Name students who were top achievers||At the start||“Best wishes to all our graduates as they move confidently into their chosen paths”||–|
|Mount Scopus||Name dux; school values listed||–||–||Inquiries phone number|
|Yeshivah & Beth Rivkah||At the end||“All” (Yeshivah) & “vast majority” (Beth Rivkah) continuing Torah studies in 2017; this is the first section.||Name & number of contact|
|Yavneh||“applaud and congratulate”, instead of “mazal tov”||–||“particularly proud of significant proportion of students furthering Torah studies & volunteering in Israel in 2017”; this is the last section||Name & number of contact|
|Yesodei HaTorah||“Also” wish mazal tov for VCE results, with no details of scores||–||Detailed list of yeshivot the students have been admitted to comprise most of the ad||–|
Rather than make specific comments about each school, I think it’s best to leave further interpretation up to the reader. Some of the inclusions or omissions may in fact be meaningless. This is an exercise in observation; we cannot get into the minds of the school staff who design these advertisements and understand their intentions.
Melbourne’s Jewish day school system is one of the best in the world, and we ought be very proud. It’s appropriate to acknowledge the visionaries of previous generations who invested so much in building the infrastructure that forms the foundation of what we now have, and established a culture which places such a high value on a Jewish day school education. I wish the Jewish graduates of 2016 (from all schools – Jewish and other) all success in the future.
(disclaimer: I’m a past student, and current parent at YBR)