Teacher praised for Holocaust lessons

Colette Curran Antosik with Barbara Winton.
Colette Curran Antosik with Barbara Winton.
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A Borders teacher who is helping pupils understand and learn from the horrors of the Holocaust has achieved national recognition for her school.

Colette Curran Antosik is a teacher of history and leadership at Kelso High School.

In 2017 she was with tasked with creating a leadership academy at the school in Angraflat Road, to, among other things, educate and empower junior pupils and awaken an entrepreneurial spirit.

As the remit of the academy expanded, pupils were encouraged to explore a number of key areas, including discrimination, sectarianism and genocide. Learning the lessons from the massacre of six million Jews at the hands of the Nazi regime during the Second World War is a central element of the teaching programme.

The pioneering programme gained recognition earlier this month when Colette was invited to the Scottish Parliament to receive a Vision Schools Scotland level 1 award for the high school’s contribution to Holocaust education.

The honour was particularly poignant as Colette picked up the award from Barbara Winton, daughter of Sir Nicholas Winton, the British humanitarian who established an organisation to rescue children at risk from Nazi Germany.

Colette said: “What makes us stand out from other schools is that it is not just something which is taught in the history classroom, it is something which is taught at various age groups and in different subjects. We have a Vision Academy and all of second year, every year, come through that course.

“They do a number of months on the Holocaust itself, so that by the end of second year they hopefully have a wonderful knowledge of it.”

Colette, who is planning to organise a Holocaust conference next year, added: “A Vision School is a school which is dedicated to Holocaust education, providing learners with the opportunity to learn about and from the Holocaust. Vision Schools Scotland aim to promote excellence in Holocaust education by identifying and rewarding schools which demonstrate innovation and good practice in this area, encouraging the sharing of good practice of school-based Holocaust education, promoting the importance of continued professional learning in Holocaust education for Scottish teachers, helping them develop confidence and proficiency in Holocaust teaching.

“As the lead teacher responsible for overseeing the schools application to Vision Schools, I was delighted to find out that we had been successful in our application and that we would be awarded with a level 1 award for our contribution to Holocaust education.

“I was thrilled to pick up the award at a ceremony in the Scottish Parliament. We were only one of eight schools in Scotland to receive the award. Going forward it is my desire to build on this success, with aspirations to achieve level 2 status in the near future.”