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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Meeting of the Parliament 28 January 2020

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Oversight Board, Holocaust Memorial Day, Point of Order, Business Motion, Decision Time, Alasdair Gray


Time for Reflection

Good afternoon. Our first item of business today is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader is Mr Stephen Stone, the headteacher of St Roch’s secondary school in Glasgow, which is part of the visions schools Scotland programme.

Mr Stephen Stone (Headteacher, St Roch’s Secondary School, Glasgow)

Holocaust memorial day takes place on 27 January every year to remember the millions lost in the Holocaust and in subsequent genocides. This year is especially poignant as it marks 25 years since the genocide in Bosnia and 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz.

Vision schools Scotland was launched in 2017 to accredit and support schools that demonstrate commitment and good practice in Holocaust education. Set up by the school of education and social sciences at the University of the West of Scotland, under Dr Paula Cowan, in partnership with the Holocaust Educational Trust, it provides free, high-quality training for teachers and advice on teaching the Holocaust. There are 15 vision schools across Scotland, with several more to receive the award this year.

As headteacher of St Roch’s secondary school in Glasgow, I am proud to say that St Roch’s became a vision school in 2018 and last year became a level 2 vision school. Holocaust education has been embedded in the school for many years, impacting parents, staff, the community and, above all, our young people. It has enabled pupils not only to become aware of the atrocities of the past and develop an understanding of their role in the world today but to become global citizens and young leaders.

Holocaust education has impacted significantly on attainment; for example, exam results in history have been consistently strong in the school and last session we had 100 per cent success for pupils sitting history at national 5 and higher. In particular, the programme has been good for our deaf pupils. We have almost 40 deaf pupils in the school and they were heavily involved in last year’s Holocaust memorial day. The fact that deaf people were specifically persecuted under Nazi control has not been lost on our deaf pupils and their families.

My colleague Patrick McShane has led pupil trips to Auschwitz and Rwanda, and his good work has been recognised by vision schools Scotland and the Holocaust Educational Trust. St Roch’s will never stand still in our quest to make Holocaust education as effective as possible. Accreditation by vision schools Scotland has sharpened our focus and affirmed our good practice. It has helped us reflect on connections between our teaching of the Holocaust and our school motto “Alios Adiuva”, which means “Help Others”. Through the vision schools Scotland programme, we will continue to share dialogue, ideas and good practice with other teachers and schools. That will be to the great benefit of our teachers, our communities and, above all, our young people. Thank you.