Building on July’s successful Beacon School Quality Mark programme launch, the Centre is delighted announce its second awardee in recognition of commitment to ongoing quality provision for, and innovation in, teaching and learning about the Holocaust: CSS South Quadrant, a pupil referral unit (PRU) and off-site service (‘the school’) in Basildon.
As a consequence of their October Quality Mark visit, we can, with confidence recognise in CSS South Quadrant a ‘true Beacon School’. CSS South Quadrant have truly taken the Beacon School brief and ‘run with it’ and as a consequence of their October Quality Mark visit the Centre can, with confidence and pride, afford them extended Beacon School status.
Download the impressive the full report: ucl-report-css-south-quadrant.
What is on offer to CSS South Quadrant learners in terms of quality Holocaust education provision would stand up to scrutiny in any context, in any school environment – the fact that this is achieved in a PRU is all the more to their credit. They continue to forge connections, innovative opportunities and partnerships across educational sectors, subject divides and the community. CSS South Quadrant epitomises the ethos, ambition, pedagogy and practice of the Beacon School programme.
Quality Mark reviewer Miss Wetherall reflected: When asked on the 2013 application for UCL Beacon School status ‘What do you think your school will gain and what will it contribute as an UCL Beacon School in Holocaust education’, CSS South Quadrant’s response included:
‘All too often, educational institutions such as our own are not given the opportunity to celebrate and share our good practice with mainstream colleagues.’
This review finds, that whilst this perception and experience may indeed be the case, CSS South Quadrant is not only offering good practice in the field of Holocaust education, it is leading the way in terms of challenging attitudes about PRUs, all learners’ abilities and the right to quality, challenging and engaging Holocaust education.
CSS South Quadrant’s application went on:
‘We believe that our work in teaching the Holocaust is exemplary and that our experiences will enhance the work of the UCL Beacon School Project whilst celebrating the achievements of our vulnerable and complex learners’.
This review confirms that CSS South Quadrant’s Holocaust education work, its teaching and learning is indeed outstanding. CSS South Quadrant experiences have and will continue to inform, enhance and inspire the UCL Centre for Holocaust education and absolutely CSS South Quadrant should be celebrating the considerable achievements of its students in this staff innovative and quality work.
The difficulty in compiling this report, is to do justice to the depth and range of quality, innovative best practice in Holocaust education undertaken across the service!
The detailed report that followed the visit reflects the Centre’s pride in working with CSS South Quadrant. Mr Cole has fully embraced the Beacon School programme, his Beacon School cohort and own school colleagues have significantly benefitted from his passion, outstanding contribution and participation – and, with such a supportive, innovative and forward looking senior leadership team, CSS South Quadrant’s learners can be assured of a quality Holocaust Education experience.
The review report found:
- There is a real appreciation for Holocaust education and that Beacon School status has stimulated reflective teaching and learning. Mrs Barak and SLT colleagues have led by example, supported and facilitated Mr Cole in raising the status of Holocaust education, ensuring it is a priority curriculum area and successfully embedding it within the school’s ethos.
- With Centre support, Mr Cole and colleagues have developed a powerful scheme of work that clearly links aims, outstanding educational resources and advanced pedagogical approaches to clearer, more meaningful understandings about pupil progress.
- There is a real sense of partnership between the lead teacher, the school as a whole and the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education; as a Beacon School, CSS South Quadrant serves as a dynamic hub within school networks, models how teaching and learning about the Holocaust can make a major contribution to young peoples’ education and recognises need and opportunities for ongoing CPD.
- CSS South Quadrant understand that learning about such events can be profoundly disturbing. The Beacon School programme is credited by Mrs Barak and middle teachers as supporting young people as they deal with powerful and sometimes disorientating feelings, helping them to express themselves and to develop their emotional literacy, contributing to SMSC and personal development.
- Given the vulnerable nature of some of the learners at CSS South Quadrant, attempts to increase students’ ability to think independently, to interrogate sources (not accept at face value), identify bias, think for themselves, develop criticality are of vital importance; key to safeguarding, their ability to engage in the world of work, not be at risk (in any sense), become active, responsible global citizens free from harm or exploitation.
- The CSS South Quadrant commitment to CPD has been outstanding. Few, schools, in any sector, can boast at least 80% of their current staff have participated in specialist training regards Holocaust education.
- Student engagement and outcomes for all were significantly increased. One student commented regards engaging with and studying the story of a Holocaust survivor, Leslie Kleinman:
‘…it’s unusual for someone like me to have an opportunity to speak to someone like that. It was amazing that he would come… I am really grateful for that chance to meet and listen to someone like him… I just wished the time was longer with him’.
- Their SMSC provision are outstanding.
- With skilful and reflective practitioners, supported by specialist CPD; with strong relationships and a highly personalised curriculum, CSS South Quadrant demonstrate just what is possible: that Holocaust education can be highly effective in PRUs. The significant contribution CSS South Quadrant are making to challenging notions of in what circumstances and with what type of learner outstanding Holocaust education can take place is beginning to be realised within and across the service, and rightly externally recognised.
- CSS South Quadrant has successfully embedded the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education’s pedagogical principles for Holocaust education. Students and staff affirmed throughout the review process the importance of powerful knowledge.
- When asked about more about the wider teaching and learning impact of Beacon School status, the review heard the following from staff across the service (primary, KS3 and 4):
‘I don’t let them off with boring answers anymore… I want to play devil’s advocate and make them think outside the box’ and ‘I’m braver now… more prepared to challenge…more willing to tackle the complex or sensitive and controversial topics… mostly because they are the most interesting topics… where the best learning happens… and I feel confident enough to do that now as I have a toolkit and that’s liberating for me… it also means my kids are inspired and engaged as they are intrigued and have great questions…even if they are not always the questions you would expect or want them to ask.’
- A Year 10 student praised the quality of teaching about the Holocaust mentioning the passion, enthusiasm and knowledge of their teacher Mr Cole. Student voice also revealed that the Holocaust education learning experience was recognised as valuable
‘it matters to me…it matters to the families and people affected back then and still living with it today’.
Students went on: ‘It was important I learned about it because it was a huge part of the past, but, you know, it’s also really present today too’.
Others said ‘The Holocaust is important to learn about’, that ‘Mr Cole and the teachers really care about it… and cos they make it interesting… and they use real people’s stories… you know, you end up caring about them too’
and another reported ‘The only thing that would make it better is more of it and not 40 minute lessons.’
- Mrs Barack commented that as a senior leader and manager ‘the real value of Beacon School involvement, the CPD and status is the methodology, pedagogy, return to reflecting on teaching and learning’ and SLT regard the impact of the UCL Centre for Holocaust education delivery of CPD, pedagogy and approach as ‘the biggest surprise’ of their Beacon School engagement and journey.
- CSS South Quadrant is led by truly inspirational and outstanding senior leaders and middle leaders, with a have a clear vision and dynamic drive to move the school forward from its current position and Ofsted status, but to also build upon its Beacon School status and extend provision and opportunity.
So much quality and commendable work has been achieved to date, but can be developed and built upon in the future to the benefit of CSS South Quadrant learners, teachers and UCL and other partners.
‘Originally I taught the Holocaust – without any CPD, and thought I was doing it ok. Turns out …on reflection, I was doing it really badly… I would mark HMD, but it was pretty tokenistic, let’s all be quiet, sad and light a candle…and then I’d move on. I came across the [UCL Centre for Holocaust Education] CPD and I was interested, but cynical as I am with any CPD… It’s changed everything. When I got home that night my wife commented “…for the past hour you haven’t stopped talking about that training”… I was genuinely excited again about teaching and learning. I was engaged, and that hasn’t stopped in the years since. It’s genuinely enhanced and made me more reflective about everything I do… Now I adapt resources and play with the UCL pedagogy and model, so I can use a resource or HMD theme and embed it in UCL principles… I can engage other organisations, materials or testimonies and tools and apply them in a way that is underpinned by UCL methods and strategies.’ Tony Cole
We look forward to our other Beacon Schools taking up this exciting quality mark opportunity to recognise such excellent work in the future.