UCL Beacon School Lead Teacher recognised in Birthday Honours!

We are thrilled that Samantha Hunt, one of our UCL Beacon School Lead Teachers, has been awarded an MBE in this year’s delayed Birthday Honours for services to Holocaust and genocide education.

Sam is a key member of the Centre’s Beacon School alumni – having taught for over 25 years, previously as an Advanced Skills Teacher and now the proud Deputy Headteacher at Sandhurst School in Bracknell Forest – as a result of her tireless work, ongoing engagement in specialist CPD opportunities, the school has held UCL Beacon Status in Holocaust education since 2014. It was Sam who spearheaded this programme as Lead Teacher, and who has been committed to continual improvement in the years since, inspiring and taking her colleagues, community and students on a journey of unique citizenship education, to such a standard as to secure the Centre’s prestigious Quality Mark.

Backed by head teacher Debbie Smith and the governors, supported by brilliant colleagues who have been inspired by her knowledge, commitment and lived values, Sam has ensured Sandhurst School students are given opportunities to engage with survivors and respected experts in the field of Holocaust Studies and genocide prevention. She has transformed Sandhurst School into a leader in the field – ensuring her young people are informed, engaged, inspired and empowered by quality provision for and enriching experience of, Holocaust, genocide and human rights learning.

Professor Stuart Foster, Executive Director, UCL Centre for Holocaust Education, said:

‘In the week in which we celebrated ‘World Teacher’s Day’ it is incredibly appropriate to learn that Samantha Hunt has been awarded an MBE in the Birthday’s Honours List.  Sam is one of our most outstanding Beacon School teachers and at Sandhurst School she has, over many years, built an inspirational human rights, Holocaust, and genocide education programme. She is intelligent, enthusiastic and continually motivates her students to become active citizens, passionately committed to building a more tolerant, empathetic and caring society.  We are extremely proud to work collaboratively with Sam and her colleagues and we are absolutely delighted that she has received this richly deserved accolade.’

Programme Director, Ruth-Anne Lenga concurred, adding:

‘I am delighted that Sam has been recognised for her drive and vision as a teacher, senior leader and humanitarian. Her care, compassion and drive to improve the lives of others is truly remarkable.’

This work in anti-racism, Holocaust and genocide education has previouly been recognised in her winning ‘Secondary School Teacher of the Year Award’ for the South of England and the Anne Frank Award for ‘Inspirational Educator of the Year’. She has also been recognised as a ‘Pride of Bracknell’ and as a Sue Ryder ‘Woman of Achievement’. She is a formidable and inspirational leader, a gifted practitioner and a kind, strong and generous woman whose passion for Holocaust and genocide education is compelling. In addition to supporting the Beacon School programme by sharing her experience and insights with subsequent cohorts, inspiring them with ‘what is possible’, and by advocating for the Centre’s research informed CPD programmes, she continues to volunteer for the Holocaust Educational Trust as a “Lessons from Auschwitz” educator. All this despite significant SLT, DSL commitments and a heavy teaching load in school – even more remarkable given this continues throughout this time of pandemic!

If all this were not enough to justify this honour, Sam chairs the NGO Survivors Fund, which supports survivors of the Rwandan genocide. She has worked extensively in Rwanda, leading initiatives to provide homes, income-generating activities and education for genocide orphans. She leads a ground-breaking project which links schools and students in the UK with survivors in Rwanda. She regularly takes student groups to Poland, Bosnia and Rwanda where participating students have a life-changing experience building homes for homeless children, working in an orphanage and teaching in schools, and provides support to refugees in Calais.

Whilst this is a richly deserved, personal honour – and recognition of a whole school communities efforts of which all associated with Sandhurst School should be proud – in accepting this award, she is a ‘Beacon’ shining a light on other teacher’s efforts to talk and teach about the Holocaust and genocide. The legacy of Sam’s lifetime commitment to this cause can been seen in the Sandhurst School Quality Mark report – in the words of her students and colleagues who are so grateful to have her and could not hold their ‘Ms Hunt’ in higher regard. Centre colleagues could not be more delighted to share this news and applaud her for this honour – congratulations Sam!

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Samantha Hunt MBE