Immanuel College, Bushey

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The Charles Kalms – Henry Ronson Immanuel College
Motto Torah im Derech Eretz
Established 1990
Type Independent school, Day school
Religion Modern Orthodox Jewish
Head Master Charles Dormer, MA Cantab [1] [2]
Chairmen of Governors G. Laurence, Esq., & R. Segal, Esq.
Founder Lord Jakobovits
Location 87–91 Elstree Road
WD23 4EB
United Kingdom
Gender Co-educational
Ages 4–18
Publication College Life, Slice of Life
Telephone + 44 (0)20 8950 0604
Affiliations HMC, SHMIS
File:Caldecote Towers Immanuel College.JPG
Caldecote Towers, Immanuel College.

Immanuel College is an independent co-educational Jewish day school, located in Bushey, Hertfordshire (on the outskirts of North London), on an eleven acre site dominated by Caldecote Towers, a Grade II listed 19th-century mansion.[3] The College is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.

The Immanuel College Preparatory School opened in the Autumn of 2011 with a Reception class.[4]

Ethos and Character

Immanuel College (formally named The Charles Kalms – Henry Ronson Immanuel College) was founded in 1990 by the late Chief Rabbi, Lord Jakobovits, to fulfil his vision of an educational establishment that affirms Orthodox Jewish values and practice in the context of rigorous secular studies. The school aims at giving its pupils a first-class education that encourages them to connect Jewish and secular wisdom, to think independently and to exercise responsibility. It is committed to 'a recognition of the unique worth and purpose of each pupil, to school life which is an extension of that which gives meaning and purpose within their families, and for the highest standards of academic excellence in both Jewish and secular studies.' Immanuel College's declared objective is to create in pupils 'an integrated personality whose Jewish identity is knowledgeable, secure and proud, as a spur to achievement and responsibility, and as a challenge to exemplary citizenship in a pluralist society'.[5]

Since its foundation, the school has acquired a reputation for academic excellence and outstanding pastoral care.[6] A recent report by The Sutton Trust placed Immanuel College in the top 2% of schools nationally in terms of its students' success in gaining admission to the thirteen most competitive research universities.[7] The college enjoys a tradition of excellence in the visual arts (the annual Gottlieb Art Show being the highlight of the artistic year) and drama (the frequent school productions have included Macbeth, An Inspector Calls, Animal Farm, A Doll's House, Blithe Spirit, The Happiest Days of Your Life and Pygmalion). There is a yearly Music Festival and the calendar includes a number of concerts and recitals involving soloists, ensembles and orchestra. The school is an increasingly competitive force in sport, the teams in tennis, football, basketball, and cricket often winning fixtures with other schools, and over twenty sports clubs meet weekly. The school is also an accredited centre for Sports and Dance Leadership Awards. The many other enrichment activities include opportunities for pupils to learn Mandarin and Italian and to participate in public-speaking and debating contests. There are also clubs in philosophy, chess, art, science and modern European languages, as well as a History Society.

The school has a wide-ranging programme of educational journeys (including annual trips to Israel, Poland, Florence, Paris, Colorado, Strasbourg and Madrid), a charity committee ('Shevet Achim'), which organises fundraising activities, for instance for Sierra Leone Poverty Relief, playgrounds for the children of Sderot, the New Hope Trust for the homeless in Watford, and the Emunah Children's Home in Afula), and a social-action programme that enjoins upon pupils a commitment to service in the community.

Grounds, Buildings and Facilities

File:Caldecote Towers from Rose Garden.JPG
View of Caldecote Towers from the Rose Garden.

The school is situated on the 11-acre grounds of Caldecote Towers, adjacent to a Dominican convent, and on the former site of the Rosary Priory Catholic girls' school. Caldecote Towers primarily serves as a sixth-form and staff building, accommodating the Head Master's and Deputy Head Master's studies, the bursary, the senior combination room and the art and music departments. More recent additions include the Joyce King Theatre, a suite of science laboratories, a fitness suite, a large all-weather surface for tennis and netball, cricket and football pitches, and facilities for field events and athletics. The exterior of the Towers was used to depict the mansion of Dr Phibes' in the movie The Abominable Dr Phibes. It also was used in the Tom Selleck movie High Road to China.

Professor the Lord Winston opened a new 8-classroom building in September 2010. The building has been designed with multi-functional technological applications and the classrooms can be reconfigured to give small or large teaching areas and an examination hall. The new building is predominantly used for A Level and GCSE classes and serves as the base for sixth-form tutor groups.


The articles of Immanuel College faith are that Jewish and secular learning shed light on one another, that the study of each is deepened and appreciated by study of the other, and that the life of the mind and spirit should not be compartmentalised but embraced. As such, the school offers a wide range of secular subjects, including English, Mathematics and the Science subjects (Biology, Chemistry, Physics), as well as Art and Design, Drama, Geography, Modern and Biblical Hebrew, History, ICT, French, Spanish, Music, Personal, Social and Health Education, Technology and Physical Education. At A Level, additional subjects are offered, including Computing, Economics, Further Mathematics, Government & Politics, History of Art, Art (Photography), Psychology and Sociology. There is a wide choice of subjects available in Jewish Studies and a broad and stimulating informal Jewish education programme.

The school offers public examinations in Years 10 and 11 (GCSE and the International GCSE) and in the Sixth Form (AS and A Level). Sixth-form students also have the unusual opportunity of taking Open University undergraduate modules to broaden their interests and knowledge.

The Independent Schools Inspectorate Inspection noted that 'the pupils’ results at GCSE are high in comparison with all maintained schools; at A level they are high in comparison with maintained selective schools'.[8]

Jewish life

The Immanuel school calendar echoes the rhythms of the Jewish year, and the school commemorates and celebrates landmarks in the Jewish calendar such as Purim, Chanukah, Succoth and Yom Ha'atzmaut. Each January, on Holocaust Memorial Day, Lower Sixth Form students share the knowledge and insights that they have gained on their trip to Poland with pupils in the first five years of the school. The school also commemorates Yom Hazikaron. Pupils attend morning and afternoon prayers on a daily basis, and all members of the Immanuel community have informal and formal opportunities to undertake Jewish textual learning, or more generally to deepen their understanding of Jewish faith and practice, with members of the school's Jewish study centre, the Beit HaMidrash.

Admission and Entrance Examinations

Admission to the Senior School of Immanuel College is by competitive examination. All senior-school candidates sit entrance examinations in English and Mathematics; Immanuel Jakobovits Scholarship candidates have the option of sitting a Jewish Studies examination of an hour's duration. All senior-school candidates are subsequently called for interview. The school offers academic scholarships and exhibitions in music and art. Admission into Reception and Year 1 is on the basis of informal assessment consisting of a play session and a focus activity.

ISI Inspection 2010

Immanuel College underwent an inspection by the Independent Schools Inspectorate in March 2010. The inspectors noted that 'standards are excellent' and that pupils' results at GCSE 'are high in comparison with all maintained schools; at A level they are high in comparison with maintained selective schools'.[9] They also observed that throughout the school 'pupils make excellent progress in relation to their above average ability, showing an exceptional grasp of Jewish language, culture, faith and practice, in addition to achieving success in examinations across the secular curriculum.'[10] The inspectors added that pupils 'bring their love of learning and considerable perseverance to a curriculum that has an exceptional range of study'.[11]

The report states that 'a high proportion of excellent teaching was seen'[12] and highlights the 'excellent quality of pastoral care', where 'each individual is cared for and valued equally'.[13] The inspection team comments on how 'the outstanding support and guidance that the pupils receive is rooted in the excellent relationships between all at the school', and states that 'the school is quietly but outstandingly led'.[14] The report recommends that the school continues to develop its computing facilities and its monitoring of pupils.[15]

ISI Inspection 2006

The Independent Schools Inspectorate inspected Immanuel College in May 2006 and the key findings of its report are:

  • 'The standard of pupils' learning is high for both boys and girls throughout the ability range.' (Section 2.10)
  • 'Throughout the school pupils develop an excellent level of spiritual, moral, social and cultural awareness.' (Section 2.22)
  • 'The quality of teaching is good and much of it is outstanding.' (Section 2.29)
  • 'The overall quality of pastoral care and the welfare, health and safety of pupils are outstanding' and members of staff 'care devotedly for pupils' well-being and development.' (Section 3.1)
  • 'The quality of leadership and management is outstanding.' (Section 4.5)

The inspectors' overall conclusion was that 'the school is entirely successful in meeting its aims and aspirations' (section 5.1), and that 'the school has no major weaknesses and so, as at the last inspection, there are no significant measures it needs to take that are not already in its plans' (section 5.3).

Immanuel College Friday Lecture Series

The Immanuel College Friday Lecture series, at which distinguished men and women from all walks of life address the Sixth Form, has included the following speakers:

Lord Jakobovits.

Ian Amdur, Esq. (Tenor); Professor Pinhas Alpert (The Climate of Jerusalem); Nick Bailey, Esq. (Classic FM: Baroque music); Y. Barak, Esq. (Deputy Editor, The Jewish Chronicle); Professor Harold Baum (King’s College, London); Professor Ehud Behar (Astrophysicist); Martin Benedyk, Esq. (UK News Editor, The Associated Press); Professor Nelly Ben-Or (Concert pianist and Holocaust survivor); Rosalind Bluestone (World Jewish Relief); Rabbi Shmuel Boteach (L'Chaim Society); Cllr Morris Bright (Leader, Hertsmere Borough Council); Professor Burland (Imperial College: Straightening the Leaning Tower of Pisa); Professor Wayne Caplan (British Technion); Kate Clanchy (Poet); Judge Myrella Cohen QC (Law and the Pre-Nuptial Agreement); Janine Collins (Barrister); Oscar Craig, Esq. (PACS); Sister Ann Cunningham (Prioress, Rosary Priory, Bushey); B. Fiddaman, Esq. (GM Farmer); Clive Freedman, QC (Barrister); Liz Futter (Sue Harris Bone Marrow Trust); Anthony Giddens, Esq. (Director, The London School of Economics); Dr Raannan Gissin (Advisor to former Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin); N. Glass, Esq. (Chief Advisor to HM Treasury); Malcolm Green, Esq. (Advertising); Mrs Yvonne Green (Poet, journalist and lawyer); Jeffrey Greenwood, Esq. (Jewish Care); The Rt Hon. Sir Edward Heath, KG, MBE, MP (Former Prime Minister); Sister Marie-Henry (Lecturer on ethics); Andrew Herxheimer, Esq. (Pharmacologist; advisor to BBC's Panorama); Eva Hoffman (Author of Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language and Shtetl: The Life and Death of a Small Town and the World of Polish Jews); Charles Ingham, Esq. (Chief Prosecutor, Hertfordshire); Rabbi Irving Jacobs (The Jewish notion of charity); Lord Janner of Braunstone, QC (Chairman, Holocaust Educational Trust and former Member of Parliament); Dr David Karp (Cancer treatments); Simone Katzenberg (Insights into leukaemia); Henrietta Kelly (Lawyer and Holocaust survivor); Dr David Kennard (Pharmacologist: The Pharmaceutical Industry in Cuba); Katherine Klinger (The Wiener Library); Dr Philip Koch (Medical scientist: Tay Sachs Disease); Talya Lador-Fresher (Deputy Head of Mission, Israeli Embassy, London); Richard Leigh, Esq. (Managing Director, London & Capital); Dr Sara Levene (Occupational health physician, Metropolitan Police); Lord Levene of Portsoken (Chairman, Investment Banking Europe, Deutsche Bank London; Lord Mayor of London, 1998–99); Rabbi Dr Abraham Levy (Reflections on 350 years of Anglo-Jewish life); Dr Gill Livingston (Psychiatrist: Mental Health); Michael Mail, Esq. (Author: Coralena); Lea Mallul (Public Affairs Director of the Barzilai Medical Centre, Ashkelon); Clive Marks, Esq. (President of the London College of Music); Laudie Marks, Esq. (Television producer); Dr Louis Marks (Former BBC radio producer and writer); Lord McNally (Leader of the Liberal Democrats, House of Lords); Jonathan Mendelsohn, Esq. (Director of General Election Resources, Labour Party); Ian Milne, Esq. (Director of Global Britain; Founder-Editor, The European Journal; author of A Cost Too Far); Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis (Securing unity amongst Jews and retaining identity); Gloria Mound (Casa Shalom: Institute for Marrano-Anusim Studies); Mehri Niknam (The Maimonides Foundation); Professor Marie Parker-Jenkins (Professor of Research in Education, University of Derby: Human Rights and Education); Howard Palmer, Esq. (Practising barrister); Cllr Sandra Parnell (Mayor of Hertsmere Borough Council); Dr David Pyle (Volcanologist at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge: Montserrat); Dr Robert Rabinowitz (Director, Carbon Exchange (Europe); ); Peter Raeburn, Esq. (Film composer, arranger, sound producer); Dr Daniel Reisel (Neuroscientist: Darwin and Religion); Barbara Roche, MP (Labour Member of Parliament); Dr Ruth Rosenfelder (Jewish Music); Joshua Rozenberg, Esq. (BBC’s Legal Correspondent); Dr Daniel Rynhold (London School of Jewish Studies: Philosophy); Danielle Sanderson (Commonwealth Marathon Runner); Richard Segal, Esq. (Co-Chairman of Governors and Chairman, Esporta Health Clubs); Dr Denise Sheer (Imperial Cancer Research Centre: Genetic Research); Anthony Slinn, Esq. (Picasso’s Guernica); Professor Michael Sternberg (Director, Centre for Bioinformatics, Imperial College London); James Smith, Esq. (Co-founder, Beth Shalom Institute, Nottingham); Leslie Sutton, Esq. (The Nuremberg Trials); Rabbi G. Sylvester (On Making Aliyah); Mrs Beverley Taylor (Lawyer); Professor Anthony Warrens (Professor of Renal and Transplantation Medicine, Imperial College); Andrew White, Esq. (Solicitor); Michael Wilcockson, Esq. (Head of Divinity, Eton College); David Winnick, MP (Labour Member of Parliament); Professor the Lord Winston (Hammersmith Hospital: Fertility Treatment); Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg (Rabbi, New North London Synagogue); Simon Wolfson (Chief Executive, Next); Dr Abigail Wood (Joe Loss Lecturer in Jewish Music, SOAS); Dr Wolgroch-Zolty (Psychologist).

Heads of Immanuel College

  • Denis Felsenstein (1990–1995), Head Master
  • Myrna Jacobs (1995–2000), Head Mistress
  • Philip Skelker (2000-2012), Head Master
  • Charles Dormer (2012- ), Head Master


External links

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