IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


30,000 'myth-busting' Holocaust textbooks, written by IOE academics, sent for free to 1,000 schools

27 October 2020

In a landmark initiative, 30,000 copies of the world’s first research-informed textbook on the Holocaust have started to be distributed to 1,000 English secondary schools.

Teacher helping pupil with classwork

Written by experts at the UCL Institute of Education’s (IOE) Centre for Holocaust Education, the publication of ‘Understanding the Holocaust: How and Why Did It Happen?’ is a major milestone in the history of Holocaust education in England.

Generously funded by the Pears Foundation and the Toni Schiff Memorial Fund, this ground-breaking resource draws on empirical research conducted by the Centre into teaching practices and students' knowledge and understanding.

In responding to this evidence, the textbook works to address key challenges around teaching the Holocaust and helps to combat common myths and misconceptions held by many students. These include misunderstandings about the victims of Nazism and their experiences; incorrect ideas about the cause of the genocide and who was responsible; and difficulties found in students' ability to provide robust explanations for how and why the Holocaust happened.

A free class set of 30 textbooks is available to teachers in any state-funded school in England who teach about the Holocaust at Key Stage 3 (ages 11-14 years). It is aimed at history teachers, but other teachers are eligible if they intend to use the book extensively.

At a time when the ability of survivors to visit schools has been impacted by coronavirus, this cutting-edge textbook provides teachers and students with innovative and powerful opportunities to deepen knowledge and understanding.

Professor Stuart Foster, Executive Director of the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education and co-author of ‘Understanding the Holocaust: How and Why Did It Happen?’ said:

“Our goal is to help teachers both deepen students’ knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust and appreciate the contemporary significance of this disturbing history.  We hope that teachers across the country will use this textbook to improve learning and challenge common myths and misconceptions that surround the Holocaust.  Due to the generosity and support of the Pears Foundation and the Toni Schiff Memorial Fund we are particularly delighted that the textbooks are available free of charge to schools across the country.

“The importance of this endeavour has only been underscored by the political and economic instability of the contemporary world, where the conditions that can ferment the rise of extremism and intolerance place added importance on using our knowledge of the past to better understand the present.”

Sir Trevor Pears, Executive Chair of the Pears Foundation, said:

“I am so proud to be associated with the first ever research-informed Holocaust textbook for UK schools. The UCL Centre for Holocaust Education’s research-led approach ensures that educational activities and materials are specially designed to meet classroom needs. I am therefore very confident that this new textbook will be widely used and improve the knowledge and understanding for a generation of students.”

Textbooks are being distributed free of charge to teachers who have pre-registered on the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education’s distribution list. To be added to the distribution list, teachers need to register and complete a short online CPD course, which is now open. To access the course, click here.



  • Photograph by Phil Meech for UCL Institute of Education