Scottish U-turn over Holocaust trips for pupils

Months of lobbying by the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) paid off this week when the Scottish government decided it will, after all, pay for students to visit Auschwitz.

Scottish education secretary Fiona Hyslop announced on Wednesday that £214,000 will be set aside to send two pupils from every Scottish secondary school.

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the HET said: "We are delighted that the Scottish Government has recognised the value of the ‘Lessons from Auschwitz' project and we look forward to working with them to involve more Scottish pupils in our work."

Controversy over the trips began in the summer when the ruling Scottish Nationalist Party and the Tories joined forces to push through a decision that money given to Scotland by Westminster would not be ringfenced for the Auschwitz trips. Instead, councils would be free to decide where and on what the money should be spent.

Ms Pollock added: "It would have been a great shame if Scottish pupils had not been able to benefit from the project. That is why we have been working tirelessly to ensure Scottish pupils did not miss out."

Labour MSP Ken Macintosh, who campaigned to have the trips reinstated, welcomed the SNP's change of heart: "I believe it was the evidence of young people who had been on previous trips and who wanted to share that unforgettable experience that persuaded the SNP to reverse its decision."

    Last updated: 3:50pm, July 13 2009