Are Wakefield schoolchildren being taught enough about The Holocaust?

Gates at the front of the Auschwitz death camp, which was set up in Nazi-occupied Poland. An estimated 1.1million Jews died here between 1940 and 1945.
Gates at the front of the Auschwitz death camp, which was set up in Nazi-occupied Poland. An estimated 1.1million Jews died here between 1940 and 1945.

Councillors in Wakefield have united to call for all secondary school children to be educated about the Holocaust.

The local authority will write to schools across the district and to Ofsted in a bid to ensure the subject is being taught between Year 7 and Year 9.

Concerns were expressed at a County Hall meeting on Wednesday that some children may be growing up without any knowledge of the World War Two atrocity, in which around two thirds of Europe's Jewish population were systematically and brutally murdered.

Labour councillor David Jones, a long-serving former history teacher, said that government changes to education policy had resulted in less emphasis being placed on the Holocaust.

Speaking at a full council meeting on Wednesday, he said: "Each year there are fewer and fewer survivors of the Holocaust able to provide a first hand account of their experiences.

"It's vital that teachers are able to keep teaching students about it.

"From my own research, Holocaust education has been consigned to RE (Religious Education), with little teaching about the context or consequences."

Conservative councillor Nic Stansby, thanked Labour members for cross-party co-operation on the subject.

The issue had been put forward in a motion by Tory group leader Nadeem Ahmed, but was automatically withdrawn when he was unable to attend the meeting.

Coun Stansby said: "There aren't many people left who've experienced it.

"It needs to be remembered. It can't just be airbrushed out of history."

In her speech, Wakefield West member Hilary Mitchell warned against "indifference" towards the persecution of minorities.

She said: "Once you start to blame any group of people, whether it's Jews, Muslims, left-handed people or Eastern Europeans - it's not beyond comprehension that it could happen again. But it musn't happen again.

"The gap between not wanting them to live nextdoor and not wanting them to live at all is not as wide as we think."

Local Democracy Reporting Service