TV judge pays a virtual visit to local school for Holocaust Day

By Jessica Durston - 6 July 2022

Education

Television star Rob Rinder zoomed in to speak to Year 9 students at Royal Wootton Bassett (RWBA) last week, for Holocaust Day.

  • RWBA students had a virtual visit from Rob Rinder

    RWBA students had a virtual visit from Rob Rinder

Year 9 Students at RWBA came face to face with well-known TV star Rob Rinder and his mother Angela whilst completing a day dedicated to the Holocaust and Rob Rinder’s story on Wednesday 29 June.

Students spent the day studying Rob and Angela Rinder’s story in 'The Holocaust My Family and Me', a two-part BBC documentary which has been adapted as a pioneering educational programme by Nicola Wetherall MBE, Teacher and Head of External Relations and School Partnerships at UCL Centre of Holocaust Education.

Originally designed for RWBA, it is now a national project with 59 schools participating around the country.

This was the first Holocaust Day since the covid lockdowns, with lessons and activities planned around the BBC Documentary series.

The day was led by the RAD (Reading And Discussion) group, an enrichment club consisting of students who focus on reading thought provoking literature around the subject of the holocaust. They introduced the programme and explained how the students would immerse themselves in the story during the day through various projects and activities.

Only History Teacher Sophie Staniforth was aware of the surprise zoom call that was to happen around lunchtime.

Rob Rinder and his mother Angela said they were delighted to speak to the year group, and gave a personal perspective on what they had been learning, as well as answering any questions the students had.

Rob Rinder said: “I feel really proud of them; this programme inspires them to ask themselves - What does this mean to me? How am I going to take this into the world and how does this make me more morally confident to stand up to prejudice and bullying?”

The television star was full of praise for Nicola Wetherall.

He added: “Dr Nicola Wetherall has found a way of making sure that young learners have an opportunity to take that difficult documentary and make it part of their learning experience. Engaging them with our personal story is important, but then to also be able to meet us and ask us questions takes it to another level, you really do feel that it matters, it’s a real moment for them.”

Nicola Wetherall said: “The project has become much bigger than we expected, it now encompasses 59 schools nationally, with another 25 plus schools signed up to join the project in September and a further 22 schools committed to beginning the project in January 2023 to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day.”

Asked how Rob Rinder became involved Nicola explained: “When I first watched the documentary on the BBC in 2020, I knew instantly that this was a way to keep the story of the Holocaust alive. I knew Rob and text him the night the documentary was aired and said ‘You’ve got no idea what this is going to do- this is a game changer for education.

“One of the key messages of this for us is this is not just history; this is about safeguarding and empowering young people to safeguard the future by looking at the past.”

The entire cast of the documentary series have given their support to the project including the forensic archaeologist, director, executive producer and music composer, all giving different perspectives and angles on how to engage students with the project.

There has also been an exciting new development since last week, as BBC/Wall to Wall Media and the families want to make a short 15-20 minute film about the project and are at the beginning of talks to extend and develop the project with Pears and UCL involvement.

More about the UCL Centre of Holocaust Education can be found online at: https://holocausteducation.org.uk

People can follow @RWBAHolocaust on Twitter or visit the RWBA website at: www.rwba.org.uk/information/holocaust-and-genocide/ 

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