A British primary school has sacked a teacher after she told Jewish students that they would go to gas chambers if they failed to finish their work, the Daily Mail reports.
The teacher from Newberries Primary School in Hertfordshire, south-eastern England, is thought to have made the comment on Thursday to a class of 28 ten-year-olds, including 11 Jewish children.
She reportedly said: “You better finish off your work quick, or I’ll ship you all off to the gas chambers.”
The woman allegedly apologised afterwards and said she was joking, before asking the students not to say anything. However, her remark still made its way to school WhatsApp groups and to the parents, some of whom complained to the head teacher and even threatened to withdraw their children unless the teacher was removed.
The school acted without delay and dismissed the woman on Friday following an emergency meeting of the board of governors. It is understood that she didn’t have a permanent job and was an agency worker.
“We can confirm that last week we were made aware that an alleged racist comment had been made by an agency teacher working within the school,” a spokesperson for the school said in a statement.
“We acted on this immediately and our governors and leadership team are undertaking a full investigation. The agency teacher will not be returning.”
A 2016 report by Ofsted, Britain’s education watchdog, rated Newberries Primary School to be “good” and “successful in maintaining the harmonious and welcoming atmosphere.”
The school is located in Radlett, an upmarket commuter village with a large Jewish community (around a quarter of the 8,000 villagers identify as Jewish).
The incident comes as anti-Semitic abuse is on the rise in the UK. Last year, according the Community Security Trust (CST), a charity monitoring anti-Semitism in Britain, the number of such incidents rose 16 per cent to a record 1,652. The CST said that the most common single type of incident involved verbal anti-Semitic abuse directed at Jewish people.
The first six months of 2019, according to the charity, have also seen a 10 percent increase year-on-year. “This is the third year in a row that CST has seen an increase in reports of antisemitic incidents,” they said. “The problem is spreading across the country and online, it reflects deepening divisions in our society and it is causing increasing anxiety in the Jewish community.”