Gove asks schools to pull out of Tottenham festival

By Marcus Dysch, September 27, 2011
Intervention: Michael Gove

Intervention: Michael Gove

Education Secretary Michael Gove has intervened to ask primary schools to pull their pupils out of a literature festival organised by pro-Palestinian campaigners.

Mr Gove wrote to headteachers after learning of the plans for youngsters to attend workshops at the Tottenham Palestine Literary Festival.

Eight schools from the north London boroughs of Islington and Haringey had signalled their intention to take part in workshops led by anti-Israel activists at which children would be encouraged to examine "the themes of human rights".

Organised by the Haringey Justice for Palestinians branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the festival begins on Thursday, the first day of Rosh Hashanah.

The Board of Deputies had earlier called the plans for children to take part "extremely troubling".

A Department for Education spokesman said: "Schools have a statutory duty to offer children a balanced presentation of opposing political views.

"The Secretary of State has written to the schools reminding them of their duty to present a balanced argument, and has asked them to either withdraw from participation, or explain how they will comply with [their statutory duty]."

Board president Vivian Wineman said: "I can think of few organisations which would be less appropriate to run a workshop in a school than the PSC.

"The conspiracy theories and hostile propaganda promoted by some of its members are particularly obnoxious. I am delighted the Secretary of State has taken such strong action."

The schools were expected to respond to Mr Gove's request as the JC went to press.

Last updated: 1:14pm, September 27 2011