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Last Updated: Monday, 4 February 2008, 16:09 GMT
UK government acts on hoax e-mail
Holocaust education rumour e-mail
The hoax e-mail has been circulating for months
The UK government is taking the unprecedented step of writing to every embassy to stop a false e-mail rumour about Holocaust teaching being banned.

A widely-circulated e-mail has falsely claimed that schools in the UK will stop teaching the Holocaust because it might cause offence to Muslims.

Schools Secretary Ed Balls says he wants to "put an end once and for all to the myth" spread by the e-mail.

He says teaching the Holocaust remains "non-negotiable" in England.

This formal government rebuttal of a hoax e-mail has been prompted by a persistent rumour that "UK schools" are set to remove the Holocaust from the curriculum.

'No evidence'

The e-mail claims that this is a response to fears of offending Muslims - and it calls for the e-mail to be distributed in a "memorial chain" in protecting the memory of the Holocaust's victims.

There are also versions of the e-mail claiming that teaching of the Holocaust has been banned at the University of Kentucky - presumably in a confusion over "UK".

The e-mail continues to be published on many blogs and websites.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families says the department regularly has to handle inquiries about this hoax - and that it wants to put a stop to the confusion.

The BBC News website also repeatedly receives e-mails, many from international readers, asking about the validity of this supposed curriculum ban.

The government is now acting to refute the e-mail, sending a statement to embassies and the "world media".

"I want to put an end once and for all to the myth that the Holocaust is not being taught in schools or is being removed from the curriculum," writes Mr Balls.

Auschwitz visits

"I am pleased to confirm that this is absolutely not the case. Teaching of the Holocaust is compulsory in all secondary schools between the ages of 11 and 14.

"We are clear that there are certain non-negotiable subjects, which are protected in schools; one of those is the Holocaust.

"There is no evidence that schools are breaking the rules and not teaching the Holocaust.

"We also fund visits for young people from every secondary school and college to go to Auschwitz."

The UK has four education systems with separate curricula. This compulsory teaching of the Holocaust applies to schools in England - but there are no suggestions of a "ban" on the subject in other parts of the UK either.

The starting point of the e-mail is believed to have been a report from the Historical Association in April 2007, which warned that some teachers appeared reluctant to teach areas of history which could be considered controversial with some pupils.

This included concerns about teaching the Crusades to Muslim pupils - and worries that teaching the Holocaust could prompt an anti-Semitic response.

Holocaust 'ban' e-mail confusion
17 Apr 07 |  Education
Schools 'avoid Holocaust lessons'
02 Apr 07 |  Education

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