General background to education in the United Kingdom
We thought it might be interesting to consider how the educational systems in different
countries cover the subjects of citizenship, human rights and the Holocaust. The
United Kingdom consists of four countries, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern
Ireland. Because each of the countries has a different approach to the curriculum,
we are only considering what happens in England.
England has introduced human rights legislation in addition to the European general
law, but it is a country where the Holocaust did not occur on its soil.
England has a National Curriculum which applies to pupils of compulsory school age in
state-supported schools. It is organised on the basis of four key stages.
Key Stage 1: Ages 5-7 (Years 1-2)
Key Stage 2: Ages 7-11 (Years 3-6)
Key Stage 3: Ages 11-14 (Years 7-9)
Key Stage 4: Ages 14-16 (Years 10-11).
For each subject and for each key stage, programmes of study set out what pupils
should be taught, and attainment targets set out the expected standards of pupils'
performance. It is for schools to choose how they organise their school curriculum to
include the programmes of study.
The statutory subjects that all pupils must be taught at Key Stage 3 are: art and
design, citizenship, design and technology, English, geography, history, information
and communication technology, mathematics, modern foreign languages, music,
physical education and science. The teaching of careers education, sex education
and religious education is also statutory.
The English National Curriculum was most recently revised in 2007. The Holocaust
remains a statutory component of study within Key Stage 3 history. The curriculum
identifies five aspects of British history and two of European and world history which
constitute the ‘Range and Content’ which must be covered by all students. In the
context of European and world history, all students must be taught about, the impact
of significant political, social, cultural, religious, technological and/or economic
developments and events on past European and world societies, and, the changing
nature of conflict and cooperation between countries and peoples and its lasting
impact on national, ethnic, racial, cultural or religious issues, including the nature and
impact of the two world wars and the Holocaust, and the role of European and
international institutions in resolving conflicts.
Unlike in most other European countries, students in England’s schools do not need to
continue their study of history beyond Key Stage 3, after the age of 14. However, they
may choose to study the subject for a further two years as a GCSE examination. In
recent years, approximately one third of students have chosen to do so.
More detail about the UK education system can be found on the EU's Eurypedia website.
The British Government reported to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance
(formerly the ITF) in October 2012 about progress on Holocaust education and
commemoration in the UK.