OPINION: Teachers must be given confidence to recognise and stamp out antisemitism

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

OPINION: Teachers must be given confidence to recognise and stamp out antisemitism

UCL Centre for Holocaust Education director Ruth-Anne Lenga calls for schools to act now on the recommendations of Lord Mann's 'fearless' report into anti-Jewish hatred.

Lord Mann’s fearless work to call-out antisemitism is well-known.

His outspoken, no-nonsense and steadfast approach has earned him considerable respect from those who have experienced antisemitic attacks and those who share his drive to stem this irrational and grotesque hatred.

That is why his position as the Independent Advisor to the Government on
Antisemitism, together with the work of the Antisemitism Policy Trust and
Community Security Trust, is critical, especially as incidents of antisemitism in its various forms increase at a seemingly alarming rate.

Lord Mann’s latest report Anti-Jewish Hatred launched earlier this week is a call to action to the UK government, setting out a range of recommendations necessary to ‘ ..tackle gaps and weaknesses in how we challenge anti-Jewish hated in our country’.

Ruth-Anne Lenga

Data from CST and others that Lord Mann cites has demonstrated an increase in the number of schools and school pupils reporting incidents.

As such, his report correctly calls for secondary schools across the UK to teach contemporary antisemitism, in addition to Holocaust education, in order to curb its rise.

It also calls for dedicated training for teachers.

We, at the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education, are currently working with
Lord Mann’s office on a small-scale pilot initiative to see how this might work in practice.

Early findings of baseline research conducted with teachers from
one academy trust suggest that whilst the vast majority (97.3%) think it is the responsibility of schools to address contemporary antisemitism, a significant number feel a lack of confidence in their knowledge and skill to fully recognise and deal with situations when they arise.

In fact, 84.8% of the 634 respondents had never received specialist training in confronting antisemitism.

Whilst the number of antisemitic incidents teachers report encountering
appear relatively low, it is possible that the number could well be higher if
teachers were more confident in their knowledge and ability to recognise it
when they see it.

This isn’t surprising: the fast-changing nature of antisemitic
rhetoric and conspiracy, the insidious nature of antisemitic language, the
spaces it can lurk and the speed at which it is spreads via social media and the gaming world, makes it all deeply challenging.

Interestingly, UCL’s 2019/20 study with teachers due to be published early
next year, also indicates that incidents being reported by teachers such as Holocaust denial and distortion are far from universal but that many
students are at risk of exposure to it outside school, often through the

Teachers who were part of the study also warned their students
believing information they found on the internet regardless of the source
or accuracy of the information.

This only goes to show the profound importance of ensuring teachers and
their students have sound knowledge and understanding of the
Holocaust, are alert to what contemporary forms of antisemitism can look
like, the abuse it poses to Jewish people and the society at large, to have
greater awareness of the threat that exists on websites and social media
and the wherewithal to call it out.

Ruth-Anne Lenga Associate Professor (Teaching), and Programme Director, UCL Centre for Holocaust Education.

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: