Too few teachers – particularly history teachers – are being trained to teach the Holocaust in England despite the fact the topic is a key part of pupils’ broader education, a report by the Parliamentary Education Select Committee warns.
The study, which comes ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day, notes that with a rising number of schools opting to take control of their own curriculum, there is a need to make sure that education about the genocide does not become “patchy”.
Figures from the University College of London (UCL) Centre for Holocaust Education show that more than 6,000 teachers have taken part in its training programmes. This contrasts with an estimated 30,000 history teachers in 4,000 secondary schools teaching about the Holocaust, as well as tens of thousands more religious education, citizenship, English and other teachers, who may need to be included.
The committee discovered a wealth of good practice and enthusiasm in Holocaust education, with teachers taking students beyond facts to a deeper understanding of what it means to be an active and informed citizen.
But committee chairman Neil Carmichael said: “Teaching young people about the Holocaust and its legacy continues to be a vital part of their education.
“In the course of our inquiry, we heard from a number of inspiring witnesses who help to explain the nature, scale and significance of the Holocaust to students in classrooms today.
“However, too few teachers, particularly history teachers, are being trained to teach the Holocaust and our report calls on the government to act.
“We expect the Department for Education to ensure the support it gives to Holocaust education is as effective as possible.”
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 Holocaust can help to protect children from extremism and it can help them to understand “the dangers of prejudice, bigotry and intolerance”.
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