East Renfrewshire schools recognised for leading holocaust education initiatives

Two schools in East Renfrewshire have been recognised for their good practice in Holocaust education at a special online event.

Friday, 12th February 2021, 9:16 am
Updated Friday, 12th February 2021, 9:35 am
Mearns Castle and Barrhead High School

Mearns Castle High have been awarded level one status, with Barrhead High School awarded the prestigious level two award of the programme.

The initiative is delivered by Vision Schools Scotland, a partnership launched in 2017 between University of the West of Scotland (UWS) and the Holocaust Educational Trust, which is funded by the Association of Jewish Refugees and the Gordon Cook Foundation.

A Vision School is one committed to the view that learning about the Holocaust is a vital part of young people’s education. To receive the award, schools must demonstrate their existing commitment to the importance of Holocaust education and to developing teacher knowledge to ensure continued expertise in this subject matter.

The celebratory event held at the Scottish Parliament was hosted by Jackie Baillie MSP, the Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, alongside Jackson Carlaw MSP. Guest speakers included Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Mr John Swinney, as well as barrister and broadcaster, Robert Rinder, who hosts the reality courtroom series, Judge Rinder.

Robert Rinder spoke about his experience in making the documentary ‘My Family, The Holocaust and Me’.

He said: “I am delighted to participate in this event. University of the West of Scotland, Vision Schools Scotland Director, Paula Cowan and her team are to be commended. Their contribution to teaching and learning about the Holocaust is inspiring. It is so important that the Holocaust is taught to, and understood by every generation, and that we all question how this took place – especially in Germany, which was one of the most advanced democracies at that time. For me it is especially important, as I have recently discovered new information about how my grandfather and his entire family were murdered. For humanity’s sake, we cannot afford to forget what happened in the Holocaust.”

Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, said: “Developing the skills that young people need to be responsible citizens is at the heart of Curriculum for Excellence. Holocaust education is an important part of this, as well as being crucial for Holocaust remembrance."

Dr Paula Cowan, Reader of Education in the School of Education and Social Sciences at UWS and Director of Vision Schools Scotland, said: “Congratulations to our new Vision Schools. They overcame the challenges of school closures and staff absences in 2020 to submit successful applications. We are so delighted that a growing number of schools from across Scotland have expressed an interest in receiving this Award. We are committed to presenting and facilitating CPD for teachers in these schools to support their continued professional growth in Holocaust and Citizenship Education. We also welcome Alison Johnstone MSP to our cross-party of Vision Schools Scotland political patrons. Committed to the work of Vision Schools Scotland, they continue to provide unique support to our Programme.”

Professor Craig Mahoney, Principal & Vice-Chancellor of UWS, said: “We commend the five schools that have recently been recognised for their good practice in Holocaust education; demonstrating tremendous resilience and adaptability during these challenging times. We will continue to actively facilitate CPD, to encourage teachers to continually develop their knowledge and skills in this incredibly important subject area.”