Israel-Palestine Learning and Teaching Resource

The reactions to the article in Commonspace (18/10/18) on the development and progress of the Israel-Palestine Learning & Teaching Resource were wide and varied. There was anger at the influence accorded to the domestic pro-Israel lobby groups by Cabinet Secretary, John Swinney and Education Scotland. Disbelief was expressed in some quarters with pronouncements of “fake news” providing a balm for some.

Scottish Friends of Palestine has been meticulous in the provision of the information which resulted in the article. The document Is-Pal Learning & Teaching Resource – supporting FOIs and other evidence has been drawn up to provide the basic information outlined as follows

-the Resource got the go-ahead in March 2017

-the pro-Israel lobby then got down to serious business

-the position on the 19 October 2018

Letter received by the Association of Palestinian Communities Scotland confirming that the Israel-Palestine Learning and Teaching Resource was available on Education Scotland’s intranet, GLOW.
Names have been redacted.

Our ref: 2017/0008491
Vice-chair Association of Palestinian Communities
By email:
24 March 2017
Re: Palestine/Israel – Teaching Material
Thank you for your email dated 21 February 2017 to John Swinney MSP, Deputy First
Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, regarding the Palestine/Israel
teaching material for schools. Your letter has been forwarded to Education Scotland and I am
pleased to provide a response.
The teaching resource has now been quality assured by a range of stakeholders including
partners representing both Palestine and Israel. The majority of people who viewed the
materials considered them to be balanced and appropriate for use in Scottish schools.
However, they were not well received by all groups which has contributed to further delay.
The resources are now on an open area of the national intranet for education (GLOW) which
makes them accessible to practitioners. Education Scotland’s commitment was to facilitate
and support the development of the resource which we have done, working in partnership
with the remaining members of the Glasgow and Clyde Valley Rights-Based Learning
GLOW is a nationally available digital environment which teachers can access by entering a
password. GLOW is arguably the destination hub for staff looking for additional learning
and teaching resources or to share ideas and approaches.
I trust this response is helpful
Yours sincerely
M Berrill HM Inspector Senior Education Officer (Inclusion)

There then followed a period of activity by the pro-Israel lobby groups to have the
Resource neutered.

From this link you will notice the meeting on “Education – curriculum” on the 9 May
2017 between Cabinet Secretary for Education, John Swinney, with Stanley Grossman of
Scottish Friends of Israel (SFI). Similarly, on 11 May 2017 with Micheline Brannan of the
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJEC)
The meeting on the 11th May is the more significant of the two – in terms of the
available evidence – however it is worth reflecting on the meetings between John Swinney
and/or Education Scotland and Scottish Friends of Israel and pose the simple question as to
why this meeting ever took place, as to why SFI was ever given the status of a stakeholder in
the consultation which took place on the Resource. The only community that SFI represents
is that of the pro-Israel apologists to be found in Scotland. The claim to represent those
Jewish Israeli nationals, resident in Scotland, lies with SCoJEC.
SFI is nothing more than a propagandist body for the Israeli state and was given privileged
access to John Swinney’s office – a meeting whose deliberations were not revealed through
FOI requests . However the following minutes/notes from Education Scotland illustrates the
determination of SFI in pursuing its agenda:

[A] Education Scotland initial meeting with SFI
The sheer hypocrisy of the above is revealed by the extent to which bodies such as Glasgow
Friends of Israel and the well-funded, US based, Solution not Sides are currently penetrating
schools in Scotland with their unbalanced narrative.

[B] 2nd meeting of SFI with Education Scotland 14.1.16
The position of Micheline Brannan, Chair of SCoJEC, gives an added dimension. All
evidence points towards Ms Brennan being allowed an advisory role leading to changes to the
Resource while the consultation framework established for such a purpose was completely
By the end of the working day of 11 May 2017, the same day that Ms Brannan met
with John Swinney, Education Scotland was on the alert to trace and delete an alleged
“highly racist” cartoon or animation contained within the Resource as can be seen from the
FOI disclosures.

Eventually Education Scotland denied that the animation was racist but this comment from
Ms Berrill is indicative of the language being used in the immediate aftermath of the meeting
between John Swinney and Ms Brannan of SCoJEC – this is no coincidence.
At this point it could be argued that everything is circumstantial but this viewpoint is severely
undermined by the following email from Alan Armstrong, Strategic Director of Education. In
the first 3 lines of the following FOI disclosure we are informed that, in the presence of Mr
Armstrong, John Swinney and possibly other senior officials, Ms Brannan “highlighted”
issues for the attention of her audience and Education Scotland.

[N] role of M Brannan (SCoJEC) 16.5.17
Note: Scattered throughout the FOI disclosures received by SFoP there are repeated
comments to the effect that the deleted animation had been placed on GLOW after the
consultation period ended. THIS IS NOT THE CASE. The animation link was incorporated within
the Resource throughout the consultation period. This is confirmed, but not apparently
understood by Education Scotland personnel, by the email contained within “highly racist
deletion (1)” above which states “There is no media been added to the blog and therefore I
can only assume it is linked from somewhere.”
These FOI disclosures speak for themselves. Ms Brannan of SCoJEC was accorded the defacto role of adviser at her meeting with John Swinney on the 11th May 2017.

And finally, the current position on the implementation of the Israel-Palestine Learning and Teaching

Reply from Gayle Gorman 4.10.18

The above should be read in conjunction with this email from the Secretary of the CPG on
Palestine (names redacted)
From: Gordon A (Amanda);
Date: 27 September 2018 at 10:21:26 BST
Subject: Education and Update on Meetings
Good morning
Please find attached a quick update from …………. re issues with education
It is now 15 months since Mr Swinney asked ES to lead on a review and pilot of the resource.
Education Scotland passed that responsibility to me and I brought together a steering group who agreed to
objective partners doing the review. Partners drew up a plan and timescale which would have been complete by now.

Education Scotland sought legal advice and declared ownership of the resource, this was challenged and EIS
and CYPCS were seeking legal advice to be discussed at the cancelled meeting in June. The meeting was cancelled as Gayle Gorman, CEO Education Scotland, was considering correspondence she had received. In August I asked Education Scotland for a date that we could pencil in for October/November/December.
Their response was: ‘For as long as next steps remain under consideration at a strategic level we are unable to commit to a date for the meeting’
Unsatisfactory as this may be, that is the current position.

Should you feel this interference in Scottish education is unacceptable, please contact:

Nicola Sturgeon

John Swinney

Education Scotland

Your local MSP/MP/Councillor 25 October 2018

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