We invited teachers from Ian Ramsey Church of England Academy in Stockton, Durham Diocese, to share their top tips for marking Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) in faith schools.
Image: memorial flames made by students for HMD 2020.
Ms Dodd, Head of Religious Education and Collective Worship Coordinator, and Mr Burt, History teacher, explain:
Being a Church of England Academy, everything we do is rooted in scripture. Our approach to HMD is no different. We use as our inspiration the words from Isaiah 56:5: ‘And to them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name (a “yad vashem”) that shall not be cut off.’
We start by giving the victims a name; we look at personal testimonies to enable students to engage with and understand the experiences of those who have lived through genocide. Holocaust education is high on our whole school agenda – both in the curriculum and in our worship programme.
Here are five engaging and impactful ways faith schools can mark HMD:
1. Collective Worship
Every student is invited to participate in a Daily Act of Collective Worship:
- Tutor groups – may focus on a particular aspect of the Holocaust (e.g. resistance)
- Student worship leaders – using materials provided by HMDT to explore case studies and testimonies
- Senior teachers/leaders – look at particular survivor stories or events
- Reflection journals are used during tutor worship. Students are encouraged to write down their thoughts and feelings, particularly when it comes to sensitive topics like HMD.
- There is also scope within the year to reflect on other genocides
2. ‘Relaxed’ Curriculum
Like many schools, we hold a whole school event for HMD: we collapse our curriculum, students remain in their tutor groups for the morning and really hone in on the HMD theme for the year.
This year we did this online the year before we had the most wonderful array of memorial flames created.
We have a permanent display in the school, dedicated to Holocaust education and commemoration. This is updated to reflect the annual HMD theme.
4. Creating Holocaust Memorials
As part of our year 9 Religious Education curriculum and focused study of the Holocaust, students are asked to create suitable Holocaust memorials. These are made prior to HMD and displayed in classrooms for others to view, and to aid commemoration.
5. Inviting Holocaust survivors
Over the last few years, we have had a number of Holocaust survivors visit our school both in person and remotely. The impact that this has on the staff, the students and their parents (as many joined us remotely during 2021) has been immeasurable.
Our blogs highlight topics relevant to our work in Holocaust and genocide education and commemoration, including identity-based persecution today. We hear from a variety of guest contributors who provide a range of personal perspectives on issues relevant to them, including those who have experienced state-sponsored persecution and genocide. The views expressed are exclusively those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of HMDT.