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Posted on 05 Nov 2020

Westminster Academy becomes a Beacon School

It is my pleasure to announce that Westminster Academy will be taking part in UCL’s Holocaust Education Institute’s Beacon School Programme from 2020-2021. This programme will help foster education of the Holocaust and nuanced and accurate inclusion of Jewish culture across the school. 

The programme will be based in the history department, but, as part of the programme, we will be conducting an audit of how the Holocaust, genocide, and Jewish culture are taught across the school, and we hope to improve our provision throughout the year.  

Undertaking this programme is particularly important in the current political context, both as anti-semitism still exists in British society but also as the Beacon School Programme has been held up as an example of best practice in developing a whole school view on teaching difficult history and in making sure that the culture and history of diverse ethnic groups is represented across the curriculum.  At the current moment, Westminster Academy is reviewing both our provision for teaching the Holocaust and Jewish culture but also how we incorporate diversity across the board, especially in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement and Black History Month.  

We have already kicked off the programme with whole-staff training on diversity and pedagogical techniques for introducing diverse cultures into lessons.  We are excited to start bringing students into the work we are doing for the Beacon School throughout the year as well.  Our first project is a collaboration with the Hampton School in South London.  A group of Year 13 students have interviewed a survivor of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Eric Murangwa.  His talk was a thoughtful, if at times harrowing, account of his experience of the genocide and an incredible testimony to the importance of tolerance and forgiveness.  

Students will now be collaborating, remotely, with students from the Hampton School, who will have interviewed a Holocaust survivor.  Together, the students are going to put together a book on genocide awareness, which they hope to sell in order to support charities who support victims of genocide.  

We also hope, if the epidemiological context allows, to invite parents into events later in the school and that this programme will develop to benefit the entire school community. 

Ms Matlis, History Coordinator

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