Chief Rabbi Lord Immanuel Jakobovits z’’l was famous for two apothegms: ‘Let my people know,’ and ‘Let my people grow.’ Immanuel College is dedicated to those aims in spirit and in practice. The future Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks proposed our mission statement in 1988:
‘The school will aim at the highest standards of academic excellence in both Jewish and secular studies. It will aim at producing students who are thoroughly at home in both contemporary society and the full range of their Jewish heritage. It will unashamedly aim at creating leaders in all spheres of contemporary life, individuals whose sense of Jewish responsibility is deep and broad, encompassing identification with the Jewish people in its totality, with Jewish history in its diversity, and with the state of Israel in its centrality. It will promote the Jewish traditions of principle and tolerance, intellectual depth and social concern, loyalty and generosity, academic rigour and ethical example. 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.’
Immanuel College provides an excellent academic curriculum and attentive, expert teaching, culminating with top grades in the most challenging and respected public examinations. Immanuel competes proudly for results with its neighbours, who are among the most selective, sought-after and high-performing schools in the nation. We achieve our results not by taking only those who find examinations easy, but through a culture of building self-confidence, self-esteem and added value into each individual pupil, understanding their learning profiles and growing independence, resilience and better processing of information as necessary. As children grow older, we increasingly teach them in ability-related sets, to all pupils to progress at their best rate, and to enable learning support to be given as needed. Our Special Educational Needs provision, including individual support with examinations, has helped our students achieve their highest dreams from difficult starts, year after year. This is one of our distinctive features.
Immanuel College is most distinguished, however, by its sense of mishpacha and ruach, family feeling and spirit. We listen to children with respect, and our behaviour policies and practice encourage children to choose and develop their own self-image in tselem Elokim, the image of HaShem. While there is and must be discipline, it is not imposed for its own sake but to teach self-discipline, observing the religious principle of tsimtsum, using controlling power only when necessary and preferably to guide individuals in their exercise of free will.
We run our school Jewishly, mindful of Torah, building relationships which are not merely transactional, but transformational, designed to make us better people through principled action. We expect and guide our students to develop high personal standards and self-discipline; a sense of communal belonging, to sustain them as moral human beings through university and later life, and in relationships with others; and a positive and mature personal relationship with HaShem. We ask staff, parents and pupils to respect these values, which are intended to serve the ultimate goals of shevet achim, dwelling together in harmony, and tikkun olam, acting, when we find things wrong in the world, to make them better and not worse. Our staff, both Jewish and of other backgrounds, are employed to be great teachers, who understand, respect and support these goals.
We take great pride in our outstanding examination results, often representing progress beyond imagination for our pupils; we take even greater pride when they vote for the organisations which will specially receive their chesed and tzedakah, then busy themselves improving lives from Watford to Ukraine to Sierra Leone, through secular charities and those supporting Am and Eretz Israel. We take most pride when our children do good on their own initiatives, with teamwork, while enjoying companionship and common cause. We encourage our students to learn how and when to lead, how and when to follow, both Jewishly and secularly, whether as shlichei tzibur leading our davening, or in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme through JLGB, whether organising our feeding of the local homeless or running an ethically aware Young Enterprise company.
We wish our children to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with HaShem. We have standards of modesty, of kashrut and of respect for Shabbat and chaggim in the same way that we wear uniform – to set us all on an equal, shared footing, based not on the lowest common denominators of our Jewishness, but on high standards appropriate to our Founder. These standards and expectations are set out, along with our other key policies, on our website, particularly at Kashrut, Jewish Life and Behaviour. We take tefillah seriously as an essential part of our school day and life, davening shacharit and mincha together, and we observe the key holidays of Medinat Israel, such as Yom Ha’zikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut, as well as observing the mitzvot of Chanukah and Purim with appropriate ceremonies and activities. Harav Immanuel Jacobovits believed that these Jewish observances would bind with and strengthen the secular learning of our children, not detract from it, and through the collaborative hard work of our teachers, parents and pupils, time and again we have proved him right with our students’ A Level results, university entry, communal leadership, career success and family lives.