Finnish-ing school! Primary earns ‘outstanding’ Ofsted after following Helsinki lead

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Finnish-ing school! Primary earns ‘outstanding’ Ofsted after following Helsinki lead

Wolfson Hillel reaps rewards after headteacher visits Finland to learn how country’s table-topping education system works

A school courtyard
A school courtyard

A Jewish primary school in Southgate this week had cause for huge celebrations after being graded ‘outstanding’ following a recent Ofsted inspection.

Teaching staff at Wolfson Hillel felt vindicated by the sweeping changes made last year, after headteacher Kirsten Jowett went to Finland to learn how that country’s schools keep topping international tables – and implemented the changes here.

Following Jowett’s visit to Helsinki, she instituted several changes, including a much higher proportion of trained teachers, earlier start and finish times, ‘family’ lunches (whereby children serve themselves in groups) taken over a shorter lunch period, and more time for teaching preparation and marking.

“My teachers now have from 2.30pm until 4pm to mark, assess, review and prepare, so it has given them their work/life balance back, and brought about much improved results from the children,” she said. “It has also helped with staff retention, as all the changes make for a happier team.”

Reacting to news of the Ofsted grade which was announced on Thursday, she said: “We got outstanding in all five areas, so we’re thrilled. I’m extremely proud of the whole team, the children, the parents and the Governors, because we’ve all worked together for the last five years to achieve this goal.”

She added: “I believe that the innovative changes that we’ve implemented have made a significant contribution to the outcome and I’m pleased that Ofsted agreed, and have said so in their report.”

Teachers at the 480-pupil Enfield primary had to wait a nail-biting eight weeks before they heard the results, after a three-day inspection over Purim. Several quality assurance teams later visited to confirm the grade of ‘outstanding,’ with the report due to be published next week.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: