The T.E.A.C.H. Report

HA Report

The Historical Association, last updated: 4th September 2007

The TEACH report outlines the sort of good practice in teaching sensitive topics which is available for teachers to share, not least through the Historical Association's programme of subject-specific training.

The Teaching of the Holocaust in English Schools

The Historical Association is disturbed to learn that false and misleading claims about the teaching of the Holocaust are being made on the internet to the effect that English schools are being discouraged from teaching about the Holocaust in case it might offend Muslim pupils or their parents. These claims appear to have their origin in a serious misreading of the Association's 2007 report on the teaching of emotive and controversial issues in history (TEACH).

These claims are not true.

History in English secondary schools is compulsory at Key Stage 3 (age range 11-14). Following the 2007 review of the history curriculum, the teaching of the Holocaust was retained as a COMPULSORY topic at this Key Stage. Beyond the age of 14 history is an optional subject of study; different history courses are on offer at GCSE, AS and A level covering a range of different historical topics and periods. Even so, aspects of the Holocaust are commonly studied by history students at some stage in their post-14 education. In 2008 the government is paying for two sixth form students from every school and college sixth form in the country to travel to the former concentration and extermination camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, with the clear instruction that they should share their experiences on the visit with the fellow students on their return.

There is therefore no basis whatever for claiming that the Holocaust has in any way been removed from or downgraded within the secondary school history curriculum.

Many historical topics, including the Crusades, the Transatlantic Slave Trade or the Arab-Israeli conflict, can be considered emotive and controversial. The TEACH report found, in interviews with teachers carried out before 2007, that some teachers sometimes feel uncertain how best to approach such topics in such a way as to do the topics justice while respecting the feelings of particular groups of pupils. At no point did any teacher interviewed for the TEACH report claim to have avoided teaching about the Holocaust at Key Stage 3 for fear of offending Muslim children.

The TEACH report outlines the sort of good practice in teaching sensitive topics which is available for teachers to share, not least through the Historical Association's programme of subject-specific training.

Professor Barry Coward
President