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Schools issued guidance on teaching partisan issues like BLM and Israel-Palestine conflict

In a 23-page document, the government provides guidance to teachers with the aim of helping to support them on controversial topics without appearing to back one side or the other.

Teachers should avoid partisan support on issues like the Israel-Palestine conflict, the Black Lives Matter movement and NHS reform when in classrooms, according to new guidance published by the government.

The document, which runs to 23 pages, outlines scenarios on how it believes schools can stay in compliance with the legal requirement to be impartial in their teaching, without “seek[ing] to limit the range of political issues and viewpoints schools can and do teach about”.

Some 19 different examples are given within the guidance, explaining ways in which teachers and schools can approach scenarios.

One explains how, if an online resource on the Israel-Palestine conflict appears useful, but is found to contain one-sided political judgements presented as fact on past and present events, it is best avoided from being used in classrooms.

Another scenario explains how, when teaching about racism, “teachers should be clear that racism has no place in our society and help pupils to understand facts about this and the law”.


It adds: “Where schools wish to teach about specific campaigning organisations, such as some of those associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, they should be aware that this may cover partisan political views.

“These are views which go beyond the basic shared principle that racism is unacceptable, which is a view schools should reinforce.

“Examples of such partisan political views include advocating specific views on how government resources should be used to address social issues, including withdrawing funding from the police.”

Racial injustice ‘baked into curriculum’, says teacher

When it comes to historical issues, the guidance states that political balance is not required for periods like the renaissance and the reformation.

For more recent historical issues like empire and imperialism, the guidance states that “differing partisan political views” should be taught “in a balanced manner”.

Controversial figures should be taught about in ways which focus on “factual information” if teachers do not think pupils can understand a “complex analysis” of their lives.

The publication also provides information on teaching about sensitive political issues.

In the case of decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK, the guidance states that the views of those opposed to the move are not required to be presented “as acceptable in our society today”.

The government also provides direction for the public display of political beliefs.

It states that, in the case of thanking the NHS for the work done during the pandemic, displaying a banner saying “thank you NHS” or something similar is ok.

But a school displaying a banner “demanding reform to the NHS or changes to NHS funding levels” would not be appropriate.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “Teaching about political issues, the different views people have, and the ways pupils can engage in our democratic society is an essential part of a broad and balanced curriculum.

“It is an important way in which schools support pupils to become active citizens who can form their own views, whilst having an understanding and respect for legitimate differences of opinion.”

Martyn Oliver, chief executive of Outwood Grange Academies trust, said: “The requirement for schools to act with political impartiality has existed for many years and the vast majority of schools manage this with great sensitivity and expertise.”

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