Teacher learns the Holocaust lessons

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An R.E. teacher from a Mansfield Woodhouse school has visited a former Nazi death camp as part of a group chosen to pioneer the way the Holocaust is taught in England’s secondary schools.

Jacqueline Vongyer, a teacher at The Manor Academy, was one of 20 educators to visit the remains of Treblinka, in Poland, where 900,000 people were murdered in just 16 months and, in Warsaw, to seek out traces of communities destroyed.

The teachers are from schools chosen to work as Beacon Schools with the Institute of Education (IOE) to develop new ways to help pupils explore the history of the Holocaust.

The new teaching approach will highlight themes the IOE believes are often neglected - pre-war life of the communities that were destroyed; how victims responded to the unfolding genocide; and the legacy and significance of the Holocaust.

Jacqueline said: “The Holocaust did not happen long ago or very far from where we live. It was a European event in our modern world, at the heart of Western civilisation, and stands out as a European catastrophe challenging all aspects of our development of society, civilization and cultural development. It is pertinent, therefore, for students and teachers to consider: what went so wrong with how we live together and organise our communities that European society could so quickly and so completely collapse into genocide?”

The IOE, part of the University of London, is Britain’s top centre for educational research and teacher training. Its Centre for Holocaust Education, leads the Beacon School programme.

Jonathon Hickman, headteacher at the school, said: “We’re delighted to be chosen as one of only a handful of schools across the country to lead the teaching of this most important of areas in modern history.”