Grammar school rewarded for honouring Holocaust

From left, Lizzie Bell, Laura Rigney, Betsy Campbell, Andrew McMillan and David Fyfe of CGS, with guest speaker, Barbara Winton. Photo: Ross Parker/SNS Group.

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Campbeltown Grammar School (CGS) is one of 10 Scottish schools which have been recognised by members of the Scottish Parliament for their good practice in educating students on the Holocaust.

CGS students Lizzie Bell and Andrew McMillan joined teachers Betsy Campbell, Laura Rigney and David Fyfe at a special event at Holyrood earlier this month.

They joined other representatives from Barrhead High, Kyle Academy, Prestwick Academy, Kelso High, Lourdes Secondary, Whitehill Secondary and Lenzie Academy in being awarded a level one status award, with St Roch’s Secondary and St Thomas’ Primary School in Glasgow awarded the prestigious level two award of the programme.

The initiative is delivered by Vision Schools Scotland, a partnership launched in 2017 between University of the West of Scotland (UWS) and the Holocaust Educational Trust.

A Vision School is one committed to the view that learning about the Holocaust is a vital part of young people’s education. To receive the award, schools must demonstrate their existing commitment to the importance of Holocaust education and to developing teacher knowledge to ensure continued expertise in this subject matter.

The event was hosted by Jackson Carlaw MSP, deputy leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, with guest speaker, Barbara Winton, daughter and biographer of the late Sir Nicholas Winton.

Ms Winton spoke of her father who had organised the Czech and Slovak kinder transports that rescued more than 600 children from the Nazi threat just months before the outbreak of the Second World War. She spoke of her father’s legacy and of the importance of understanding the plight of refugees in the past and in present day.

Ms Winton said: ‘The University of The West of Scotland and Vision Schools Scotland director Paula Cowan and her team are to be commended. They have done a seriously important job to develop and run this programme.

‘The lesson of the Holocaust teaches us to stand up for decency, respect, tolerance, truth and love, and fight against cruelty, intolerance, dishonesty, hatred and aggression. We can all do something to make a positive difference. Nothing is a failure if you do something.’

For at least the last three years, CGS pupils have joined a Holocaust Educational Trust-organised trip to Auschwitz, the concentration camp to which many victims of the Holocaust were sent and where at least 1.1 million people were killed during the genocide.

And in 2016, Ladislaus Löb, a Hungarian Jew who experienced first-hand the horrors of the Holocaust, travelled to Kintyre to share his story with CGS students.

During his visit, which was also organised through the Holocaust Educational Trust, Professor Löb told pupils about his life at notoriously horrific German camp Bergen-Belson, where he arrived when he was 11 years old.

Mr Fyfe, head teacher at CGS, told the Courier: ‘Our aim is to educate young people from every background about the Holocaust and the important lessons to be learned for today. We want to inspire them to consider their responsibilities to their communities.

‘The pupils and staff at Campbeltown Grammar have worked extremely hard to get this prestigious award and I’m incredibly proud of them all.’

Dr Paula Cowan, reader in education at UWS’ School of Education and Social Sciences and director of Vision Schools Scotland, said: ‘Congratulations to our new Vision Schools. Our schools’ network is now expanded to 15 schools, 13 secondaries and two primaries.

‘We are so delighted that a growing number of schools from across Scotland are expressing an interest in receiving this award. We are currently working hard to present and facilitate CPD for teachers in these schools so that we can support their continued professional growth in Holocaust and Citizenship Education.’

From left, Lizzie Bell, Laura Rigney, Betsy Campbell, Andrew McMillan and David Fyfe of CGS, with guest speaker, Barbara Winton. Photo: Ross Parker/SNS Group. NO_c47cgs01

Guest speaker Barbara Winton addresses the audience at the event. NO_c47cgs02