Education & Family

More teachers 'need Holocaust training', say MPs

Auschwitz Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption The committee said more pupils could visit concentration camps like Auschwitz

Too few teachers - particularly history teachers - are being trained to teach the Holocaust in England, the Education Select Committee says.

Although good Holocaust teaching material is available, the majority of teachers are "self-taught" with little professional development, MPs say.

They also call for steps to be taken to preserve the words of Holocaust survivors for future generations.

Ministers say all pupils must study the Holocaust and what it teaches us today.

This is why it is unique in being the only subject named as a compulsory part of the history curriculum, a spokesman for the Department for Education said.

'Personal testimony'

He added: "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. We trust teachers to introduce this subject in the most appropriate way for their pupils."

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."


More on the Holocaust:

Drone video shows the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp

Why did ordinary people commit atrocities in the Holocaust?

The Holocaust year by year


Auschwitz visits

The report stresses the importance of students hearing directly the personal testimony of Holocaust survivors and the impact it had on them and their families.

The government should consider giving more young people the opportunity to visit Auschwitz and other sites such as Wannsee, Sachsenhausen or Ravensbrück, it adds.

The DfE said it had provided over £1.5m each year to the Holocaust Education Trust since 2006 to fund its 'Lessons from Auschwitz' along with £500,000 to the Centre for Holocaust Education to improve teacher knowledge and training.

A spokesman 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.

"We trust teachers to introduce this subject in the most appropriate way for their pupils."

Following the Prime Minister's Holocaust Commission report, plans are being made to preserve survivor testimony, to create a new national memorial and secure the long-term future of Holocaust education.

The report is published in the build-up to Holocaust Memorial Day on Wednesday.

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