Five schools across Scotland have been recognised for their good practice in Holocaust education at an event at the Scottish Parliament, on Thursday 10 February 2022.
Grangemouth High School, St Ninan’s High School (in Kirkintilloch), Turnbull High School, and West Calder High School, have been awarded level one status, with Alva Academy in Clackmannanshire 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 Gordon Cook Foundation and the Scottish Government.
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 Programme embeds responsible citizenship at its core, a key principle of Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence, as it encourages effective and sustained school-based Holocaust Education.
The celebratory event held at the Scottish Parliament was hosted by Jackie Baillie MSP and Jackson Carlaw MSP.
Jackson Carlaw said: “Vision Schools Scotland is now one of the key pillars of Holocaust Education in our schools and the programme has continued to grow and flourish each year.
The Holocaust is an event we must never forget and the lessons of this dark chapter in human history must be imparted to each generation so that we all hold strongly to the values of tolerance and respect for all.”
Jackie Baillie said: “Congratulations to all the new Vision Schools for their exemplary practise in Holocaust education. Vision Schools Scotland is a fantastic initiative that educates future generations about the horrors of the Holocaust in order to ensure that it never happens again. I encourage all schools to join the programme and look forwarding to celebrating with the award winners on Thursday.”
Guest speakers included the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills Shirley-Anne Somerville, and poet, broadcaster and former Children’ Laureate, Michael Rosen.
Distributing the awards to the schools, Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “Holocaust remembrance and education in schools provide opportunities to learn and debate many critical issues at the heart of Curriculum for Excellence – compassion, respect, equity and equality.
“The schools recognised for their good practice in embedding Holocaust education across the curriculum are shining examples of this, and I am sure the young people involved will take away valuable insights that will stay with them throughout their lives.”
Referring to his family’s experiences during the Holocaust, Michael Rosen explained why 10 February - the date of the Vision Schools Scotland award event - was so important to him.
He said: “Our family histories are full of stories - some uplifting, some comic, some tragic. I learnt from my father that there was tragedy in our family because his uncles and aunts had 'disappeared' during the Second World War. He was never able to find out how though he knew why: it's because my family is Jewish and we knew of course that the Nazis tried to kill all the Jews of Europe - genocide as it's called. After many years of research and some occasional strokes of luck, I was able to find out exactly how my father's French relatives were arrested and deported to Auschwitz, from where they never returned. Why is it important to tell such terrible stories? I think it's because we need to know how and why such things can happen. Though it's uncomfortable to say this: these stories are about us, the human race. We hope when we tell them that we can find ways to avoid or stop things like this happening again. I used the word 'hope' there. In my research, I was glad to find some reasons for hope, so that's another reason for telling the story of what happened.”
Dr Paula Cowan, Reader of Education in UWS’ School of Education and Social Sciences and Director of Vision Schools Scotland, said: “Congratulations to our new Vision Schools, and of course to Alva Academy for developing their teaching of the Holocaust, during what has been an exceptionally challenging year for schools. There are now 23 Vision Schools and our network extends to 50 schools."
We are so delighted that schools across Scotland are not only continuing to apply to be a Vision School, but that existing Vision Schools are renewing their commitment. We are also grateful for the continued support from our political patrons. We are committed to presenting and facilitating CPD for teachers across Scotland to support their professional growth in Holocaust and Citizenship Education.
Dr Paula Cowan
Dr Lucy Meredith, Interim Principal & Vice-Chancellor of UWS, said: “As a University, we are committed to proudly supporting the work done by Vision Schools Scotland in Holocaust education with schools across our country. We will continue to support CPD for teachers, and facilitate their developing skills and knowledge in this important subject area."
On behalf of the UWS community, I congratulate our new and renewing Vision Schools, as well as everyone else involved in this programme.
Dr Lucy Meredith
For more information on the Vision Schools Scotland Programme, and how to access the recorded awards event, please visit: