Teachers ‘need more training’ for Holocaust lessons

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Teachers ‘need more training’ for Holocaust lessons

'Historical defensive guilt' is among the causes of anti-Semitism in Germany, say community leaders
'Historical defensive guilt' is among the causes of anti-Semitism in Germany, say community leaders
Holocaust survivor Ezra Davids standing at the Bergen-Belsen memorial.
Holocaust survivor Ezra Davids standing at the Bergen-Belsen memorial.

More teachers should be trained to teach schoolchildren about the Holocaust, a cross-party of group of MPs has suggested.

The topic is a key part of pupils’ education, and should extend beyond history lessons, according to a new report by the Commons education select committee.

The study, which comes ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day, also warns that with a rising number of schools opting to become academies, and taking control of their own curriculum, there is a need to make sure that education about the genocide does not become “patchy”.

Figures from the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education show that more than 6,000 teachers have take part in its training programmes,

But there could be 30,000 history teachers in 4,000 secondary schools teaching about theHolocaust, as well as tens of thousands more religious education, citizenship, English and other teachers, the committee said.

The report concludes: “Too few teachers – particularly history teachers – are being trained to teach the Holocaust.

“While much of the training for teachers is of a high standard, more needs to be done to extend its reach to subjects other than history.

“The Holocaust should remain part of the core history curriculum, and we believe that the teaching of the Holocaust would be strengthened by the adoption of a deliberately cross-curricular approach.”

The committee urges the Department for Education (DfE) to support the organisations it funds to help them provide training for more history teachers and look at how the training it funds could be extended to other subject teachers.

In addition, it says a growing number of pupils are being taught at schools that are not required to teach the Holocaust and that while many will do so, the Government should take steps to ensure that Holocaust education “does not become inadvertently patchy”.

Committee chairman Neil Carmichael said: “During our evidence we heard of some excellent and engaging teaching which serves to deepen young people’s understanding and knowledge of the Holocaust.

“However, too few teachers, particularly history teachers, are being trained to teach theHolocaust and our report calls on the Government to act. We expect the DfE to ensure the support it gives to Holocaust education is as effective as possible.”

A DfE spokesman said: “Every young person should learn about the Holocaust and the lessons it teaches us today, which is why it is unique in being the only subject named as a compulsory part of the history curriculum.”

Over £1.5 million has been given each year to the Holocaust Education Trust, he said, along with £500,000 to Centre for Holocaust Education to improve teacher knowledge and training.

He added: “All schools must teach a broad and balanced curriculum, academies are required to do so through their funding agreements. We know that good schools will include a significant event like the Holocaust in their history lessons, without being told to do so by government.”

Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said:  “For over 27 years the Holocaust Educational Trust has been at the forefront of Holocaust education in schools, ensuring that it has a place on the national agenda and on the national curriculum. The Committee’s findings support our own aims of ensuring that every young person is educated about the Holocaust.

We particularly welcome the recommendation that schools should be incentivised to take up teacher training opportunities on offer by the Holocaust Educational Trust and others – as well as the strong support for our Lessons from Auschwitz Project, which has changed many thousands of lives.”

Earlier this month, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said learning about the Holocaustcan help to protect children from extremism and it can help them to understand “the dangers of prejudice, bigotry and intolerance”.

Around six million Jewish men, women and children died in the Holocaust, perishing at the hands of the Nazis in ghettos, mass-shootings and in concentration and extermination camps.

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