Immanuel celebrates 21st Anniversary
Monday, 21st May 2012
On Tuesday 15th May 2012, Immanuel College celebrated its 21st Anniversary at the Park Lane Hotel in the presence of the Israeli Ambassador, His Excellency Ambassador Daniel Taub. The dinner attracted original founders of the school, including Lord Stanley Kalms, as well as past and present Governors, teachers, pupils and parents.
Over 275 guests were warmly welcomed by Richard Segal, Co-Chair of the Governing Body, who commended the vision and commitment of the school’s founders who had the foresight to understand the need for an independent secondary school that served the wider London area which affirms orthodox Jewish values and practice in the context of rigorous secular studies. Richard Segal commented that “the vision of Lord Jakobovits, Lord Kalms and Gerald Ronson holds true to this day, with Immanuel College providing its pupils with a first-class education that encourages them to connect Jewish and secular wisdom, to think independently and to exercise responsibility.”
Segal added that “Immanuel College was committed to a recognition of the unique worth and purpose of each pupil and to the highest standards of academic excellence in both Jewish and secular studies.” He argued that “at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise, established religious values under siege and the sense of Jewish communal responsibility in younger generations waning, it’s imperative that our children are educated to be knowledgeable and proud Jews who are inspired to play active leadership roles in the Community in years to come.”
Gary Laurence, Co-Chair of the Governing Body, paid tribute to Philip Skelker who retires as Head Master at the end of this academic year after an inspiring twelve years of loyal and devoted service. Gary Laurence spoke of how Philip Skelker had touched the lives of scores of students and their families with so many benefitting from his nurturing approach to education. Gary told the audience, “Philip Skelker has proudly led this school for the last twelve years, encouraging pupils to perform to their maximum potential and inspiring them to live fulfilling lives with a thirst for Jewish knowledge and a love of Israel.” Gary Laurence added that “Philip Skelker deserves to be praised for immersing himself in every aspect of the school’s religious and secular life, really embracing the spirit of Immanuel, for which he is loved and respected.”
Gary Laurence told the guests that “a significant part of Philip`s legacy are the excellent results being achieved by Immanuel College`s pupils at public examinations, with the school being placed in the top 3% of all secondary schools in the UK based on the proportion of pupils gaining places at the nation’s top universities”. Gary Laurence also highlighted that Jewish life and learning had flourished under Philip Skelker’s leadership, with the establishment of both a Kollel and a Beit Midrash. Gary Laurence said “Philip Skelker is justly proud that this academic year a record number of Immanuel College pupils have been offered places at Oxbridge (4) and medical schools (5) and that this summer a record number of Immanuel’s sixth formers (16) will be pursuing a gap year of higher Jewish education at each student’s first choice of Yeshiva or Seminary.
In response, Philip Skelker recalled an episode at primary school which he believed shaped his approach to teaching, by explaining his belief that “a shy or reticent student cannot fully achieve academically if they are made to feel anxious or embarrassed to ask questions”. Philip Skelker continued, “Immanuel is an exceptional school where there is a convergence between the school’s values and those of the parents who entrust their children to us. Parents want their children to gain an interest in study which results in strong academic qualifications, to understand and practise Jewish teaching and tradition, to identify with Israel, to develop talents in areas such as sport, debating and drama in order to gain self-belief and to be principled, enquiring and confident adults who become responsible, charitable and active members of the community.”
Charles Dormer, who takes over as Head Master from Philip Skelker at the end of this academic year, introduced His Excellency, Ambassador Taub, who had visited the school with his wife the week before. Articulating his vision for the school, Charles Dormer referred to an article by Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks who wrote “Immanuel College will aim at the highest standards of academic excellence in both Jewish and Secular studies. It will take as its task the projection of an Orthodox way of life and thought that earns the admiration of others of whatever faith. It will aim at creating in its pupils an integrated personality whose Jewish identity is knowledgeable, secure and proud, a spur to achievement and responsibility, and a challenge to exemplary citizenship. It will unashamedly aim at creating leaders whose sense of Jewish responsibility is deep and broad, encompassing an identification with the Jewish people in its totality; with Jewish history in its diversity; and with the state of Israel in its centrality.”
Ambassador Taub explained that Jewish schools are a strategic asset for the Jewish people to instil Jewish pride in the younger generation. The question was how to do this in the right way? He continued by saying that he believes that “Immanuel has found the right way” and that he was inspired by the intimate and nurturing environment at the school as well as the knowledge, pride and passion that Immanuel’s pupils displayed with regards to their Jewish identity. The Ambassador commented that “Immanuel’s pupils were engaged, passionate and delightful.”
At this milestone event, Edward Misrahi, Chairman of the Governing Body’s Fundraising Working Group, launched the school’s plans to build a dedicated Beit Midrash as well as a new classroom block, encompassing additional science facilities. Edward Misrahi said “the Governing Body is committed to continuously raising standards and facilities across every facet of the school, so that there is an independent, modern orthodox Jewish school which will prosper for the sake of our children and future generations.” Edward Misrahi explained that “the new Beit Midrash will allow Immanuel’s students to further their Jewish education in a setting that will inspire them further and the new classroom and science block of 13 classrooms and 2 new laboratories would ensure that the school’s students had modern, state of the art facilities that were fully conducive for learning.” Misrahi added that “this exciting physical infrastructure investment project, coming within two years of the opening of an 8 classroom block and the school’s new Preparatory school, demonstrated the Governing Body’s ambitious plans for the school and commitment to the school’s ethos.”
Edward Misrahi launched the beginning of a campaign to raise £2million for this project, explaining that the aim was to start construction at the end of the next academic year with all works completed by September 2014. Edward Misrahi concluded by saying that “this investment will allow Immanuel College to build on the vision and commitment initiated by Lord Jakobovits, Lord Kalms and Gerald Ronson CBE over 20 years ago. It will allow the school to continue to strengthen and grow, whilst also providing students with the best possible setting for furthering their secular and Jewish education.”