HOLOCAUST education experts have heaped glowing praise on the pioneering programme in place at Royal Wootton Bassett Academy.
The team from University College London visited RWBA earlier this year as part of their Beacon School Quality Mark programme.
Launched in 2016, it seeks to recognise commitment to ongoing quality provision for and innovation in teaching and learning about the Holocaust.
It goes beyond the awarding of Beacon School status, recognising the schools that have really gone above and beyond in their approach to Holocaust education.
So far, five schools have been successful in securing Beacon School Quality Mark status of which RWBA is now one.
The report released following the inspection said that “the school, its students, staff, parents and community should be hugely proud of what they have achieved so far.”
The panel found that Beacon School status had “truly been embraced, valued and was a driver for whole school improvement”.
UCL’s Dr Andy Pearce said: “Royal Wootton Bassett Academy is a Beacon School in all senses of the term.
“It is a hub of educational excellence, where one finds very high standards of teaching and learning about the Holocaust, and cannot fail but to be inspired by what teachers and students can achieve.
“The Holocaust and Genocide Programme is exemplary in its intelligent design and appreciation of multi-disciplinary learning.
“Its staff and senior leaders are committed pedagogues, passionate about advancing young people’s understanding of this complex and challenging past; and its students are grounded, well-informed young men and women whose love of learning is infectious.”
The programme in place at RWBA adopts a cross curriculum approach that goes beyond a simple history lesson. It encourages students to explore the complex issues around tolerance and prejudice and to understand how, if unchallenged, they can lead to violence and ultimately, to genocide.
Pupils of all ages benefit from meeting survivors of the Holocaust as well as the genocides in Rwanda, Bosnia and elsewhere.
The corridors at the school, which display the artwork and other projects that form part of the programme, are a testament to the central role that the unique approach plays.
RWBA headteacher George Croxford says Holocaust education is one of the things that makes the school he leads so special.
Welcoming the UCL report, he said: “Being a UCL Quality Mark Beacon School brings fabulous formal and external recognition for our school for what I see as one of the most important parts of our whole person education – the students love it and have responded fantastically to it.
“I am so proud of achieving this status, of the tireless work our lead teacher Nicola Wetherall puts in, and the commitment and enthusiasm of our staff and students.
“The Beacon School journey has moved teaching and learning forward here, I believe, massively.
“I am so proud to lead this school, and Holocaust education is a key part of what makes it so special.
“It is an honour to achieve this recognition.”