Following on from "How mean can you be..."
By Charlotte Oliver, July 30, 2015
Concern has been raised over a new educational resource promoted by the National Union of Teachers, which aims to “illustrate the daily struggles experienced by Palestinian children as they try to gain an education”.
The five-part series, named “Beyond the Wall” was developed by the NUT alongside educational charity Edukid, and provides books and films profiling Palestinian children to schools in the UK.
The schools which sign up to the programme are also offered “vetted links with Palestine schools and teachers” and “supervised visits to the schools they are helping in Palestine”.
Introducing the resource, NUT General Secretary Christine Blower said it had been “inspired by a Union delegation visit to Palestine in 2013, where members experienced the dignity and resilience of Palestinian teachers and young people”.
She added: “Our hope is that by linking classes together in the UK and Palestine, relationships can be built and as a result understanding will grow, stereotypes will be challenges, cultures celebrated and commonalities found.
“I hope that this resource will be welcomed and widely used in schools across the country.”
But news of the programme’s launch has worried Jewish parents, as well as the Board of Deputies, who said that “the literature presents a one-sided and partisan view in contravention of legislation, which encourages political education in schools, but is required to be balanced”.
According to the Education Act, schools have a “duty to secure balanced treatment of political issues”.
A Board spokesperson said: “We have raised the issue at a senior level with the Department for Education, who share our concerns and are raising it with the parties involved.
“We have also requested a meeting with the NUT to discuss the issues raised.”
He explained that the Board was also appealing to Jewish members of SACRE (Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education) on local councils, asking them to report whether the schools in their area had received the resource. The same, he said, should be done by parents and teachers.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The law is crystal clear all political discussions in school should be unbiased and balanced. Teachers should only use teaching materials which are suitable for their children and we trust them to decide which resources to use in their lessons.”