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Developing positive values: a case study of Holocaust Memorial Day in the primary schools of one local authority in Scotland

Cowan, Paula and Maitles, Henry (2002) Developing positive values: a case study of Holocaust Memorial Day in the primary schools of one local authority in Scotland. Educational Review, 54 (3). pp. 219-229. ISSN 0013-1911

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Many schools and local authorities saw the initial Holocaust Memorial Day as an important stimulus to develop lessons and events in Holocaust history amongst young people of vital importance for today. The focus of this paper is to examine the potential for Holocaust education in the primary curriculum in Scotland and whether the instance of Holocaust Memorial Day and the undertaking of a serious commitment to it by a local authority had an impact on the teaching and raising of Holocaust issues in the primary schools in that area. The authors previously argued (Maitles and Cowan, 1999) that there needed to be a major commitment from the Scottish Executive and/or local councils to encourage teachers and schools to coordinate or introduce Holocaust education in the schools. To test this, the field research for this survey was conducted by means of a questionnaire to every primary school in the local authority and achieved a 91% response rate. Strong national commitment to Holocaust educational activities, backed up by commitment from the local authority in terms of staff development and teaching materials, ensured a quality of experience as well as the quantity. Linked to this was an effective structure in the schools, with a designated Holocaust education coordinator and the involvement of the wider community. This led teachers in schools to imaginatively develop pupil skills, knowledge and understanding and informed attitudes in Holocaust history which potentially has a resonance in the wider citizenship area.