More teachers should be trained to give Holocaust lessons, say MPs

More teachers should be trained to deliver lessons about the Holocaust, MPs have said.

Too few teachers – and history teachers in particular – are being given effective training in the subject, the Commons Education Select Committee warns in a new report.

Published today, ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day on Wednesday, it points out that the quality of training sessions on the Holocaust offered to teachers is not always guaranteed. And many teachers are given no training at all.

But the report also recognises the high standard of training delivered by organisations such as the Holocaust Educational Trust and the Centre for Holocaust Education. Teachers who have attended such courses are able to help their pupils develop a deeper understanding of what it means to be an active and informed citizen, it adds.

The MPs call on the Department for Education to increase its support for these organisations, so that they are able to deliver training to more history teachers. They would also like to see Holocaust education incorporated into subjects other than history, such as English, drama or PSHE.

The report states: “The Holocaust should remain part of the core history curriculum, and we believe that the teaching of the Holocaust would be strengthened by the adoption of a deliberately cross-curricular approach.”

Neil Carmichael, chair of the committee, said: “Teaching young people about the Holocaust and its legacy continues to be a vital part of their education. 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.”

In addition, the report stresses the importance of the personal testimony of Holocaust survivors. Pupils, it states, benefit from hearing directly from those who lived through the Holocaust.

“Sadly, this opportunity will not last for ever,” the report states. “Steps must be taken to preserve their words for future generations.”

Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT teaching union, said she agreed that learning about the Holocaust was a vital part of children’s education. “It is vital that we keep remembering and learning from the past,” she said.

“As with all subjects, it is important that teachers have the proper training to be able to deliver the most effective lessons. Too often, professional development is lost through cost-saving exercises. This really needs to be addressed.”

Read the report on the www.publications.parliament.uk website

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