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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-19515: Neil Findlay (Lothian)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 22 October 2018

To ask the Scottish Government for what reason Israel-Palestine educational resources that have been quality-approved by Education Scotland as a learning and teaching resource have reportedly been withdrawn, including whether this was at the request of any pressure group, and whether this was approved at ministerial level.

Answered by: John Swinney 2 November 2018

The development of educational resources on Israel/Palestine began in 2015. Following a much publicised incident involving a primary school homework exercise, a working group was established to scope out appropriate education materials dealing with the conflict. The aim was to ensure that schools were better-placed to address the question of Israel/Palestine.

An initial set of resources was made available through Education Scotland’s Glow system in early 2017. The purpose was to allow teachers to post comments as part of a piloting exercise. In May 2017, and following concerns expressed by stakeholders (specifically the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities), I asked Education Scotland to remove a specific animation from the resources.

The resources continued to be available on a password protected basis in order that they could be finalised to the satisfaction of all key stakeholder interests. A period of consultation and further development was then facilitated by Education Scotland. This included the opportunity in autumn 2017 for all interested stakeholders to contribute comments via meetings and in writing. The aim throughout this process was to ensure the production of a set of resources which could be agreed by all key stakeholders.

In February 2018, with no consensus amongst key stakeholders about the suitability of the resources, Education Scotland explored the potential of taking ownership of the resources in order that it could finalise them and make them available on Glow. While all eight local authorities involved in the initial development of the resources were content for ownership to be assumed by Education Scotland, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) indicated that they would not be content to agree to this. The EIS wrote to Education Scotland in June 2018 to make this clear. The EIS offered, as one of the initial developers and joint owners of the resources, to publish the material on its website.

Education Scotland has therefore been unable to secure ownership of these resources. Education Scotland and the Scottish Government are content to agree to the EIS’s request that as one of the original developers and joint owner of the resources, it is entitled to publish them. As with any educational resource, it will be a matter for individual local authorities and schools to determine if they would like to make use of the resources.

Education Scotland will write to all of the organisations who have been involved in the period of consultation to advise of this and to thank them for their contributions.