Wednesday, 18 April 2007
Holocaust education in the UK

Via Melanie Phillips, a statement from the Holocaust Education Trust clarifying the matter. Holocaust education is compulsory, below the age when pupils may opt to do History GCSE:

These rumours [that the Holocaust was no longer being taught] stemmed from a piece that featured in a number of newspapers including the Daily Mail, the Guardian and Telegraph at the beginning of April. The news stories came about as a result of a report commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and undertaken by the Historical Association. The report, 'Challenges and Opportunities for Teaching Emotive and Controversial History 13-19 (TEACH)', addresses both the challenges teachers face, as well as the good practise that is occurring when teaching all emotive and controversial historical issues such as slavery, the Crusades and the Holocaust...

• The Holocaust became part of the National Curriculum for History in 1991. It is statutory for all students in England and Wales to learn about the Holocaust at Key Stage 3 usually in Year 9 History (aged 13-14).

• Many students will study the Holocaust in Religious Studies, English and Citizenship lessons...

Within the TEACH report from the Historical Association, there is one particular line relating to Holocaust education which has been the focus of the press and various alarmed emails. It features in the section addressing why teachers avoid teaching certain subjects and states: ‘… a history department in a northern city recently avoided selecting the Holocaust as a topic for GCSE coursework for fear of confronting anti-Semitic (sic) sentiment and Holocaust denial among some Muslim pupils’.

The key points regarding this statement are:

• This does not refer to Holocaust education on the National Curriculum-it is a post-14 History GCSE course (publicly examined course)

• History at GCSE is not compulsory (only one third of pupils opt for history post-14)

• This is an anecdotal response from one teacher in one school out of four thousand five hundred secondary schools in the UK. While we cannot say what happens in every single school, our understanding is that this is highly unusual and not general practice of teachers around the country.

• All schools can choose which history topics they wish to study for coursework at GCSE level.

• There is no suggestion that this or any other school is failing to cover the National Curriculum in teaching about the Holocaust at Key Stage 3, Year 9 (age 13–14).

At no point does the report from the Historical Association suggest that the Holocaust be removed from the National Curriculum for England and Wales. Obviously we and all Holocaust related organisations in the UK take this very seriously, however on this occasion we want to allay all fears and impress upon everyone that the Holocaust is not being removed from the National Curriculum. This particular incident does of course merit further investigation but in no way represents all the good work in our schools across the country.

Of course this would change if Muslims in sufficient numbers were able to influence the National Curriculum. I doubt the Holocaust is taught in Muslim majority countries. Even though it is taught up to about the age of 14, the fact that Muslim pupils still deny it suggests that the home and mosque have more influence than the school.

Posted on 04/18/2007 4:14 AM by Mary Jackson
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