In Holocaust education, moretimeandattention
nological society could descend to genocide, that needs to be rooted in a solid grasp of history.
For example, the report says they should know about collaborating regimes, the involvement of local populations in the killings, the long history of anti-Jewish prejudice, the different Nazi policies targeted at different victim groups, and what Britain and the Allies knew about the Holocaust. They should recognise that the Nazis were a mass political party, not a small band of Hitler’s henchmen.
This is a tall order in the average six hours devoted to Holocaust education in schools (some dedicate as little as one hour). But while the government has pledged £50 million towards a new Holocaust memorial and learning centre, the report is concerned that changes in the educational system could conspire to reduce teaching of it.
First of all, most secondary schools are now academies, so no longer have to follow the national curriculum. Some result-conscious schools devote three years, rather than two, to their GCSE courses, which could cut the time spent on the pre-GCSE curriculum, where the Holocaust is included.
While some students have gone on to study the Holocaust in more depth at GCSE and A-level, there is a concern that a new focus on British history in exam subjects will squeeze other areas.
“The persecution and mass murder of the Jews and other groups typically appears as a very small element of an optional topic worth, at best, only 20 per cent of students’ final GCSE grade,” the report warns. “It is possible that only a small percentage of GCSE students will leave school, having studied anything meaningful about the Holocaust.”