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Headteacher Wants Apology for Jimmy Carr’s Joke About Gypsies in Holocaust

Published on: 22 Feb, 2022
Updated on: 24 Feb, 2022

Jo Luhman, headteacher at Kings International College, Camberley and formerly at Ash Manor School. Image UK Parliament

By Julie Armstrong

local democracy reporter

A Camberley headteacher has told MPs there should be an apology for Jimmy Carr’s joke about Gypsies killed in the Holocaust.

Jimmy Carr Wikimedia

The Eight out of 10 Cats presenter said in his latest Netflix stand-up special that no one ever mentions the thousands of Gypsies killed by the Nazis because “no one wants to talk about the positives”.

Kings International College head Jo Luhman, giving evidence in an inquiry into the educational experiences of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children to the education select committee, said the gag in his show ‘His Dark Material’ was “exceptionally damaging”.

Ms Luhman said: “Even if you take it off Netflix, it’s out there now, isn’t it.

“I do think there should be an apology and I think it needs to be worded in a way that young people understand why it was inappropriate.

“If we want all of our young people to not laugh at jokes like that and understand how serious it is we’ve got to have good role models on mainstream media and that was completely unacceptable. You can’t justify it.”

Another witness, Paula Strachan, headteacher of a primary school in County Durham, said: “Young children are talking about it and families are very upset at the amount of laughter that circled round after the joke was said.

“You wouldn’t be able to say it about another racial group.”

Education committee inquiry into Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children’s experiences February 2022. Credit UK Parliament

The education committee spoke today (February 22) about the impact of bullying on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller students’ attendance.

Ms Luhman was previously deputy head at Ash Manor School, which had the highest number of settled Travellers in the country.

One in 10 of students at the Ash secondary were from a GRT background and schools watchdog Ofsted said their absence, although high, was nearly half that seen nationally.

She did not approve of an assertion by Conservative MP for Ipswich Tom Hunt that: “To a diminishing extent but maybe still a little bit now, there is perhaps a certain attitude, particularly when it comes to attendance, that maybe it’s not critically important to be there every day and missing the odd day might not be the end of the world”.

She told him that could be applied to any family across the country.

“I don’t think that’s the reason why they don’t attend, I think it’s a fear,” she added.

“If you’ve had a difficult day the day before, if you’ve been bullied or if you’ve been subject to racism, then why would you then come to school the next day?

“It’s down to us as educationalists to change the attitudes in schools, which will then support the communities to attend.”

Ms Luhman said Gypsies’ Holocaust history was part of the syllabus but only mentioned very briefly.

“It isn’t necessarily something that’s focused on and then when you get those sort of jokes and people laugh, actually, if it had been embedded in the curriculum would it have had the response that it had?”

Committee chair Robert Halfon, a Conservative MP, said: “I’m from a Jewish background and I know if that had been said about Jews there would have been uproar.

“I just find it fascinating there was a bit of fuss, but nothing in comparison to any other racial group.”

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Responses to Headteacher Wants Apology for Jimmy Carr’s Joke About Gypsies in Holocaust

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    February 22, 2022 at 5:20 pm

    More censorship. Have they not noticed, the lull in politics is over. There are far more important things to worry about: fuel costs, food prices, and Russia has invaded Ukraine. And will I ever be able to get back to the Caribbean.

    Jimmy Carr is a (not very nice) storm in a teacup!

  2. M Smith Reply

    February 22, 2022 at 9:33 pm

    If you don’t like a comedian’s jokes then don’t go to their shows but don’t dare tell me what jokes I can or cannot listen to.

  3. John Perkins Reply

    February 23, 2022 at 10:23 am

    At my grammar school we had a headmaster known as “CJ”. The masters thought it related to the character in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, but actually it was short for “Creeping Jesus”. His head was always held high to show off his (self-ordained) dog collar.

    He taught me exactly what level of respect to give to head teachers.

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