Jewellery Quarter Academy, Rockwood Academy and Nishkam High School’s Heads of History visited Warsaw, the capital of Poland, as part of University College London’s (UCL) Centre for Holocaust Education’s Beacon School programme.
Mr Soper, Mr Singh and Miss Moody joined other Beacon Schools on the annual study visit during the 10th-13th May 2019. The study trip is designed to deepen their understanding of the Holocaust and explore the impact the Holocaust had on the local Polish community to further inform their teaching.
The trip included visits to key historical locations including the Warsaw Ghettos and Treblinka, the second largest death camp created by Nazi Germany during World War Two, where 800,000 were killed. The Warsaw Ghettos allowed Mr Soper and Mr Singh to see first-hand the ways in which the Jewish community were segregated from the rest of society, hearing stories about how many died from malnutrition and a lack of medical supplies to treat diseases and illnesses. They visited the site of the Grand Synagogue which was destroyed by the Nazis after the Warsaw Uprising in 1943.
Mr Singh, Head of History at Rockwood Academy said:
“Being able to talk about places I’d visited and how they related to specific individuals like Janusz Korczak who were taken to such places can provide a further dimension to the explanation that the students will provide in response to their understanding of the holocaust”
“Being able to describe the physical dimensions of a place, what it looks like now and how a particular site has been remembered will allow students to grasp the suffering that Jewish people faced as result of prejudice and hatred.
“The trip to Poland informs my teaching of the Holocaust. It provided me with knowledge, inspiration, depth, breadth – all facets that I can call upon to enhance the lessons I teach. More importantly on reflection, the trip has shaped me both as a classroom teacher but also as a person.”
Miss Moody, History Lead at Niskham High School said:
“I’ve learnt so much about the pedagogy of effective site visits. Most importantly, I’ve begun to understand the void that was left by the Holocaust. When we visited a Jewish Cemetery in Warsaw we were asked why was it overgrown with trees…because the children and grandchildren who should be caring for it now were never born, that is what genocide means.”
Speaking about the trip prior to it taking place, Programme Director Ruth-Anne Lenga said:
“As teachers walk through the former ghetto stopping at points of significance and remembrance they will engage in creative tasks that bring about a powerful encounter with the past. Throughout we will consider site based pedagogy and reflect upon the significance of these spaces and shared learning for our classrooms.”
Beacon Schools serve as dynamic hubs co-ordinating a network of local schools, helping them to develop confidence, proficiency and excellence in Holocaust teaching and learning.