Conflict in the Middle East: issues for schools

The NEU has updated its advice, Conflict in the Middle East: Issues for Schools, which aims to support members to deal with the reactions of pupils and the wider community to the conflict.

While some of the challenges staff face may require short-term measures to be taken following an escalation of violence in the Middle East, there are also longer-term issues around antiracism that can be addressed on an ongoing basis through the curriculum and by the promotion of a positive all-school environment and ethos.

The advice covers some of the challenges staff and schools/colleges may face; the importance of adopting a whole-school/college approach; the role of staff; support for staff and pupils; the benefits of teaching media literacy; guidelines for teaching controversial issues; and schools and colleges’ legal duties. There is also a useful resources and support section.

Background

The NEU believes that education can and does change lives.

The long-standing and many-sided conflict between Israel and Palestine generates a wide variety of deeply-held opinions. People supporting both sides of the conflict often hold strong and passionate views.

The life of a school or college is strongly influenced by outside factors and the conflict can pose difficult challenges for staff. Staff may find that they must deal with the sensitive task of responding to pupils’ reactions to violent events, particularly when there is a flare up in the conflict as in spring 2021. The NEU is confident that its members are skilled professionals who can meet the challenge of educating young people who can develop a firm understanding of human rights and can contribute to a more peaceful future.

This advice aims to support members to do so.

It is important that any discussions within schoolsandcolleges–boththoseformallyarranged as part of classroom teaching and those that may take place informally betweenstudentsandbetweenstaff–areconducted respectfully and calmly.

The advice contained in this document is relevant to all schools and colleges, though some of its content may be more appropriate to some sectors than others. While some of the challenges staff face may require short-term measures to be taken following an escalation of violence in the Middle East, there are also longer-term issues around antiracism that can be addressed on an ongoing basis through the curriculum and by the promotion of a positive all-school environment and ethos.

Download the resource here