Unpacking the Holocaust: Thought Provoking, engaging, meaningful CPD

The image below taken from the Pears Foundation website is powerful and symbolizes what many, if not all, teachers believe in:

I recently attended a CDP course titled ‘Unpacking the Holocaust’.  This was run by UCL and funded through the Pears Foundation and Department for Education. The CPD is free.

The training day turned out to be one of the most important and insightful training days I have experienced in my 12 years of teaching.  Not only was it informative (you can never stop learning about the Holocaust….you can never stop learning FROM the Holocaust) but it was an opportunity to widen my own understanding of what problems as History teachers we are facing when teaching this area.

The program is based on ‘evidence based research’.  This is what made this CDP day stand out above other teacher training I have experienced: It is based on evidence of what is and is not working for History teachers.

In this respect, their motto holds true:

‘The Centre for Holocaust Education is the only specialist Holocaust institute supporting teachers in the classroom with the best in contemporary research.’

Based on student and teacher feedback from what has and is happening in schools with the teaching of the Holocaust, they have identified common misconceptions and have then created high impact activities that allow teachers to overcome such obstacles….after all, this is a complicated area!

Another aspect that impressed me were the resources they provide, all of which have been shared with the course participants and given freely to be used in the classroom.  These activities were modelled on the day.


The above task is engaging, relevant to GCSE History (Hitler’s Consolidation of Power), balances the overview with individual case studies and allows students to identify ‘the big picture’.  In UCL’s own words:


The ‘Messiness’ of History; spot on. We must not shy away from this, but embrace this messiness.

Finally, I must mention the two specialists who shared their expertise on the day.  Andy Pearce and Emma O’Brien (photo) were motivating, insightful and made the CPD thoroughly engaging for all of us.

I wholly recommend this CDP training to any teacher, no matter what subject, no matter how experienced, from trainee to well experienced, they will find relevance and meaning in attending…after all, we commit, we learn, we refine…this is who we are as teachers.


I will be adapting my teaching of this topic accordingly, making full use of the Messy timeline as well as other experiences learnt, particularly Leon Greenman’s story.  His life story as a Holocaust survivor is still in my mind, it will be so forever.

Useful links for further information:






Also, participation in their CDP opens up further benefits of online resources but also an opportunity to gain funding for their MA module:

Module https://www.holocausteducation.org.uk/courses-events/masters-module/


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