UCL Centre for Holocaust Education

World leading research-informed education

The UCL Institute of Education has been successfully working in partnership with Pears Foundation for ten years to develop and improve how the Holocaust is taught in every secondary school in England and to positively impact how young people learn about the Holocaust. As a funder Pears Foundation have a genuine interest in the work of the Centre. They are interested in learning and understanding about what we do and how we do it and ensure we have their full support along the way.
Professor Stuart Foster,
The Centre for Holocaust Education is a truly world-class programme, located within a university ranked first in the world for education. Its unique combination of academic research and practical expertise has enabled it to create an extraordinary programme to help teachers grapple with one of the darkest periods in human history in all its complexity.
Sir Trevor Pears CMG

Partner since: 2007

  • Funding invested: £7m core funding for the Centre

Learning about the causes and consequences of the Holocaust is crucial to understanding the modern world and our place within it. It raises profound questions about human actions and agency and our responses to atrocity. However, our research showed that it is a huge and challenging subject for teachers and students.

In 2006 we conducted internal research into the needs and priorities for Holocaust education in the UK, identifying teacher training as the urgent, national priority. As a result, in partnership with the Department for Education, we established the Centre for Holocaust Education at the UCL Institute of Education and tasked it with the creation of a national, research-informed teacher training programme.

The Centre aims to give teachers the confidence and skills to support their students to think critically, deepen their knowledge and wrestle with the complex and difficult questions that study of the Holocaust raises.

Its distinctive contribution has been to use – for the first time – large-scale national research into the challenges of teaching about the Holocaust to ensure that approaches, activities and materials are specifically designed to meet classroom needs. This enables it to act as a conduit between academia and education, bringing the latest research and key developments in understanding the Holocaust off the page and into the classroom.

In 2009 the Centre conducted landmark research into the teaching of the Holocaust in English secondary schools, followed in 2015 by the world’s largest ever study of students’ knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust. The findings of the research inform every aspect of the Centre’s work, ensuring that its programmes meet genuine needs and address important gaps in teachers’ and students’ understanding and knowledge. In 2021 the Centre published a research-informed Key Stage 3 textbook, Understanding the Holocaust: How and why did it happen? – the only one of its kind in the world. To date, almost 50,000 copies have been distributed free of charge to over 1,400 schools.

Teachers are supported at all stages of their careers through a carefully constructed professional development pathway that includes their initial training, continuous professional development workshops, a fully accredited Masters module and a Beacon Schools leadership programme.

The Centre has worked with over 22,000 teachers and an estimated 1.6 million pupils have benefitted from its programmes. It is having a profound and measurable impact on improving practice in schools across the country.

The Foundation also funds academic reasearch into perpetration and complicity under Nazism at the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies. The Centre for Holocaust Education has worked with the team there to make this research accessible to teachers.