More teachers and more training needed for Holocaust education, say MPs

By Charlotte Oliver, January 23, 2016
HET chief executive Karen Pollock who gave evidence to the committee

HET chief executive Karen Pollock who gave evidence to the committee

More teachers need to be trained to teach the Holocaust, according to a report published today by the Education Select Committee.

It said that more attention should be paid to spreading Holocaust education to include other subjects in schools besides history, such as English, drama and PSHE.

The committee, a Department for Education-backed team of MPs who launched an inquiry in September into the effectiveness of Holocaust education, has spent the past four month speaking to leading experts – including Holocaust Educational Trust chief executive Karen Pollock – and receiving written submissions.

According to its findings, most teachers have either not received any professional training in specific Holocaust education or have participated in programmes of training companies whose work was not “quality assured”.

This, the committee noted, was despite the “valuable efforts of educational organisations such as the Holocaust Educational Trust and the Centre for Holocaust Education”.

The committee, whose chairperson is Neil Carmichael, MP for Stroud, called on the DfE “to do more to support the organisations it funds so as to deliver Holocaust education to more history teachers”.

It also recommended that the government focused extra attention on preserving the memories of Holocaust survivors and enabling more pupils to visit Auschwitz and related sites.

“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,” said Mr Carmichael.

“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.”

Ms Pollock, who gave evidence to the committee in December, said its findings “support our own aims of ensuring that every young person is educated about the Holocaust”.

She added: “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.”

The report, which is designed to complement the work of David Cameron’s Holocaust Commission, was published ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day on Wednesday.

Last updated: 3:00pm, January 25 2016