Holocaust education Contents


Our inquiry

1.The nature, scale and significance of the Holocaust set it apart from other events of world history in the twentieth century. As a consequence, it is specified as a topic within the National Curriculum which must be taught as part of key stage 3 history in maintained schools.1 We announced our inquiry into Holocaust education on Monday 21 September 2015, and held a single oral evidence session on Tuesday 1 December 2015.

2.We invited written submissions addressing the following issues:

a)The quality of the teaching of the Holocaust and educational programmes in schools.

b)The impact of teaching the Holocaust on young people.

c)The focus on the Holocaust in the National Curriculum and the absence of teaching of other genocides.

d)Training for teachers in Holocaust education.

e)The implementation of the recommendations by the Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission which have relevance to teaching in schools.

3.We received over 100 written memoranda, including a number from young people who have benefited from the work of organisations promoting and providing Holocaust education. This indicates the level of public and professional interest in Holocaust education, by which we are greatly encouraged. We are grateful to all of those who took the time to write to us.

Government action and responsibility

4.On 27 January 2014, Holocaust Memorial Day, the Prime Minister announced the formation of a Holocaust Commission, whose terms of reference were to investigate “what further measures should be taken to ensure Britain has a permanent and fitting memorial to the Holocaust, along with sufficient educational and research resources for future generations”.2 The Commission reported in January 2015,3 and noted many examples of excellent practice. It did, however, identify four gaps in national efforts to provide adequate education and commemoration of the Holocaust and made recommendations to address them. They were:

Box 1: The conclusions of the Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission

(1) Widespread dissatisfaction with the current national memorial in Hyde Park

  • A striking and prominent new National Memorial

(2) Effective Holocaust education fails to reach significant numbers of young people

  • A World-Class Learning Centre at the heart of a campus driving a network of national educational activity

(3) Inadequate support for regional projects compounded by a lack of long—term funding for Holocaust education

  • An endowment fund to secure the long-term future of Holocaust Education—including the new Learning Centre and projects across the country

(4) The testimony of survivors and liberators needs to be urgently recorded and appropriately preserved

  • An urgent programme to record and preserve the testimony of British Holocaust survivors and liberators

Source: Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission, Britain’s Promise to Remember: the Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission Report, January 2015, pp12–14

5.The Commission is assisted by two expert groups: one on education and another on commemoration. The expert group on education is chaired by Dame Helen Hyde, Head of Watford Grammar School for Girls. The Prime Minister’s Commission and its Expert Groups are currently taking forward the recommendations made in January 2015, mindful of the need to proceed with haste to preserve the testimony of those directly affected by the Holocaust.

6.We are launching our report in time for Holocaust Memorial Day 2016. It is our hope that this report will complement the work of the Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission and address several specific issues within the control of the Department for Education. We have heard through our inquiry that Holocaust education in the UK is characterised by outstanding examples of research-led and content-rich material, but that the reach of much of this excellent work is limited. Put simply, too many young people have far too superficial an understanding of the causes, nature and consequences of the Holocaust.

1 Department for Education (HOL 053) para 1

2 Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission, Terms of Reference, 27 January 2014

3 Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission, Britain’s Promise to Remember: the Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission Report, January 2015

© Parliamentary copyright 2015

Prepared 21 January 2016