Two Countries Separated by the Same Language

Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once said, “England and America are two countries separated by the same language.” When it comes to the Jewish educational system, the UK and the US do have more than English in common, sometimes they also share Hebrew!

Of course, there are many other commonalities, however, through our work at TalentEducators we have also recognized the significant differences between the systems in these two English speaking countries.

While in the US, most Jewish schools are funded by tuition payments and fundraising activities, in the UK most Jewish schools are funded by the government and parents’ voluntary contributions.  This funding structure has a large impact on teachers within these institutions, and presents challenges and opportunities on both sides of the pond.

  • Pay scales in the UK are more heavily regulated, whereas in the US it is more accepted to recruit high-quality teachers through more desirable salaries.
  • In order to earn at a higher level, UK teachers need qualified teacher status (QTS), whereas in the US, there are no specific credentials required aside from solid teaching results.
  • UK schools have a diverse Jewish student population as the schools are open to all, whereas high tuition costs in US schools can prevent some families from enrolling their children.
  • The curricula in UK schools is more strongly dictated through the government, thereby limiting the ability for schools to allocate more hours to Hebrew and Judaic studies.
  • Teacher training in the UK can be centralized under one or two organizations whereas in the US there is little centralization of requirements and curricula, thereby creating multiple training needs and programs.

What does this mean for TalentEducators? For starters, it means that any global organization that is looking to address the issue of recruiting and retaining high quality Jewish educators needs to first address the different needs of the different countries.

While both countries are English speaking, they are vastly different in their essentials, perspectives, and requirements. Even within the countries, it would be a mistake to assume that we can “cut and paste” from London to Manchester, let alone from Boston to San Francisco. This need for more talented Jewish educators is global, but requires very local models and solutions. Our challenge and opportunity is to leverage our international reach in order to build on the global best practices while developing tailor-made local models that can scaled up as we continue to expand beyond these two countries separated by the same language.

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