School Curriculum

– in the Scottish Parliament on 21st April 2022.

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Photo of Russell Findlay Russell Findlay Conservative

6. To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on whether the school curriculum should be free from party political bias. (S6O-00979)

Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party

It is important that our pupils understand the democratic process in Scotland, the UK and further afield. Learning and teaching should be conducted on a non-partisan and non-party-political basis. Individual schools develop their own curricula at school level, and Scottish ministers have no direct control of or influence on those curricula.

Photo of Russell Findlay Russell Findlay Conservative

The Scottish Government agency Education Scotland has told school children that the Loch Ness monster can help them form a view on an independence referendum. One education campaigner has described that as nationalist “propaganda” and an attempt to

“brainwash pupils into believing that Scotland is the victim of a wicked conspiracy”.

Does the cabinet secretary agree that the Scottish National Party’s exploitation of our beloved Nessie is wrong, and will she commit to the removal of such embarrassing and ridiculous propaganda from the curriculum?

Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party

The resource in question was, of course, developed by two primary school teachers in conjunction with Professor David Martin-Jones at the University of Glasgow. Professor Martin-Jones is very well respected in his academic area, and the material was based on his research.

I make it very clear that that resource, which was not developed in-house by Education Scotland and certainly not by the Scottish Government, is part of a resource for teachers.

There is no fixed national curriculum in Scotland, and we have no direct control or influence over the curriculum. I trust our teachers to deliver that curriculum—it is a shame that the Scottish Conservatives do not.

Photo of Kaukab Stewart Kaukab Stewart Scottish National Party

Teachers throughout Scotland do a fantastic job educating our children about political literacy in an impartial and responsible manner. Will the cabinet secretary recommit to empowering our teachers, through the curriculum for excellence—which the Tories want to tear up—to equip our young people with the knowledge, skills and understanding that they need to succeed in life?

Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party

Kaukab Stewart is quite right. As I alluded to in my original answer, we absolutely remain fully committed to the empowerment of our school leaders, staff, parents and pupils, including on decisions that affect learning and teaching. It is absolutely correct that we should empower our school leaders and teachers. They know their children best, and it is quite right that the Scottish Government and our agencies provide them with the support and resources to allow them to do that.

Photo of Foysol Choudhury Foysol Choudhury Labour

Does the Scottish Government agree that the school curriculum should contain education on racism and colonialism and that such reforms are not party political, but are sensible and reflective measures on our common history?

Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party

Foysol Choudhury raises an exceptionally important point that I hope that we absolutely agree on. A great deal of on-going work is being done on race equality education, and a lot of work is being done by the race equality and anti-racism in education programme, which I am sure Foysol Choudhury is aware of. The Government is committed to looking at the issue very seriously, to empowering our stakeholders to take it very seriously and to taking action on it. I look forward to the work that those stakeholders are taking forward as part of REAREP. As I have said, it is a very important issue that we need to tackle across the chamber.