UK schools told to be 'balanced' on Palestine-Israel, Black Lives Matter

UK schools told to be 'balanced' on Palestine-Israel, Black Lives Matter
The UK's Department for Education (DfE) has issued "Political impartiality in schools" guidance, which says issues including the Palestine-Israel conflict must be taught in a "balanced" way.
2 min read
18 February, 2022
Palestine-Israel was mentioned directly in the guidance [NurPhoto/Getty-file photo]

The British government has told schoolteachers to be "balanced" in covering themes such as Palestine-Israel, and Black Lives Matter.

The Department for Education (DfE) issued "Political impartiality in schools" guidance on Thursday.

The guidance says modern historical events including "many topics relating to empire and imperialism" must be dealt with in a "balanced" way, and mentions the ongoing Palestine-Israel conflict directly.

It provides an example situation in which a seemingly neutral online resource fails to give a "balanced account of the conflict", such as by presenting "partisan political views" in purportedly "factual content".

The guidance also refers to racism, saying educators "should be clear that racism has no place in our society".

It says those teaching about particular activist groups such as certain organisations linked with the "Black Lives Matter movement… should be aware that this may cover partisan political views" – those which are outside the "basic shared principle that racism is unacceptable".

According to the DfE's document, in these cases, there should be "steps to offer pupils a balanced account of opposing views", adding that students must not be urged to back organisations who promote these stances.

The guidance on impartiality in schools comes as some staff and students at Britain's universities say they cannot freely express solidarity with Palestinians.

Concern often centres on the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism.

Attached to the IHRA definition is a series of examples, one of which suggests "claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour" may be anti-Semitic.