Anti-racism in Scotland: progress review 2023

Detailed examination of progress made on commitments contained within the Race Equality Framework (2016-2030) and the Immediate Priorities Plan (2021-2023).

10. Theme 4: Education and Life-long Learning

Vision: Everyone has the opportunity to learn in an inclusive environment without disadvantage in relation to racial inequality or racism.

Our ambition is to make Scotland the best place to grow up and to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to learn in an inclusive environment which is actively anti-racist. Our mission is to shape the education and skills opportunities for all Scottish citizens, throughout their lives, to support them in leading fulfilling lives and so that they can contribute to a competitive and inclusive economy.

The Scottish Government is clear that there is no place for racism or discrimination within our early learning and childcare settings, schools, further and higher education institutes and community learning settings. Inclusion, diversity and equality are at the heart of policies that underpin education and learning in Scotland and are a key aspect of safeguarding children’s rights, promoting social justice and ensuring child-centred learning. We need to be vigilant in challenging any racist and abusive behaviour that occurs within our institutions. Where it occurs, it must be challenged through educating our children and young people about all faiths and belief systems, and ensuring they learn tolerance, respect, equality and good citizenship, as well as healthy relationships. All staff are expected to be proactive in promoting positive relationships and behaviour in the classroom, playground and the wider school community - a condition of teachers’ ongoing registration with the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

While progress in articulating and embedding anti-racism is being made across the education system, including in curriculum development and building racial literacy at all levels within the workforce, other areas such as ensuring effective careers guidance and employability support for individuals from racialised minorities requires renewed focus and commitment going forward.

Goal 14: Innovative, inclusive and effective approaches to education (whether through teaching or pupil support) which take account of the individual needs and experiences of pupils in all ethnic groups are embedded throughout Scotland’s education system.

Anti-Racism in Education Programme

The Scottish Government has acknowledged that race inequality in school remains evident, and the need to tackle it imperative. In response the Anti-Racism in Education Programme (AREP) was established to make fundamental changes to our an education system to ensure that it is fundamentally anti-racist. This followed a three-month programme of stakeholder roundtables between the then Deputy First Minister and a range of race equality and education stakeholders as well as children and young people from racialised minorities in early 2021.

It is envisaged that the actions of the AREP will result in race literate as opposed to race evasive education staff; increased numbers of racialised minority educators in schools; a decolonised curriculum with race cognisant resources and teachers and staff who are better equipped to address and prevent racism in Scotland’s schools.

In 2021 a Race Equality and Anti-Racism in Education Programme Stakeholder Network Group was established to bring lived experience, anti-racism and education system expertise together with evidence, to develop a set of actions to address race inequality in schools across four distinct workstreams each with its own sub- group:

1. Education Leadership and Professional Learning. The work of this group aims to create educators and leaders that are confident, committed and empowered to promote equality, foster good relations and identify, prevent and deal with racism. As a result of understanding race in an education context, and by deploying skilled and passionate leadership they can empower and support an anti-racism culture across school communities.

  • A successful professional development opportunity, entitled ‘The Building Racial Literacy Programme’ has been developed as part of this group’s work programme. To date three cohorts of educators and education system leaders have completed this professional learning which has supported them to be actively anti-racist and to take forward their learning within their professional and personal environments. Evaluations from the most recent third cohort indicate that educators and education system leaders completing the programme felt inspired and motivated by the professional learning, believing the programme helped them improve their practice. Longer-term impact evaluation forms completed by cohort 1 and 2 participants reveal that the Building Racial Literacy programme empowers participants to influence changes to the culture of their establishments, with emerging evidence of the programme’s positive wider impact on participants’ colleagues and learners.

2. Diversity in the Teaching Profession and Education Workforce (DITPEW). The work of this group focusses on diversifying the education workforce to ensure that it reflects and supports the racial diversity of modern Scotland, thereby enriching the education experience for the whole community. The AREP and Scottish Government recognise that a diverse and racially cognisant education workforce is beneficial for everyone, not just for students and teachers from racialised minorities.

  • The DITPEW subgroup publish a diversity in the teaching profession annual data report relating to the diversity of the teaching profession in Scotland. This allows us to better understand the intersectionality between the diversity of the teaching profession, including representation within promoted posts, and geographical location. This informs policy making to ensure that it is most effective at impacting change across the whole of Scotland.
  • The Scottish Council of Deans of Education, represented on this working group, have commissioned an academic from a racialised minority to develop an anti-racism framework for Initial Teacher Education (ITE) which was published in April 2023. The aim of this framework is to embed anti-racism practice within the entire ITE experience (from initial marketing to student placement.) The purpose of this is to encourage diversity in ITE and, as a result, within the wider teaching workforce.

3. Curriculum Reform. This workstream aims to articulate, promote and embed anti-racism through all areas of the curriculum. The workstream has created new Principles for an Anti-Racist Curriculum as a way to capture the rights and expectations of children and young people and leaders and educators. Education Scotland have published guidance for educators and continue to develop resources and examples of practice to support and inspire - Race Equality and Anti-Racist Education website.

4. Racism and Racist Incidents. The work of this subgroup focuses on strengthening resources and approaches to prevent and respond to racist incidents. This group will develop guidance on a whole-school approach to anti-racism, including strengthening approaches to recording and monitoring. The workstream are in the early stages of this work. Education Scotland staff contribute to the subgroup.

An expert external facilitator, Calabar Education Consultants Ltd., has developed an evaluation framework for the AREP. The framework includes a mixed approach of quantitative and qualitative measures which will provide the opportunity to assess responsive change and improvement. It will also provide an insight into the impact of the workstreams and how the AREP is having an impact on the education system as whole.

We will continue to progress the actions of the AREP subgroups going forward, which includes:

  • We will pursue additional engagement with children and young people to inform the AREP programme; work is underway with organisations to take this forward. Currently we are at the funding application stage, this will need to go through our Programme Board before going to ministers for sign off.
  • Completion of the Evaluation Framework for the AREP, being carried out by Calabar Education Consultants Ltd.
  • Continued co-delivery of the Building Racial Literacy programme, with plans to run more cohorts in 2023 – 2024.
  • Publication of the Anti-Racist Principles for the Curriculum with links to supporting guidance and materials. The principles have been refined in consultation with a range of ‘critical friends’ from the education sector (learners and educators) and Education Scotland’s Building Racial Literacy programme participants. We believe that they reflect a comprehensive and coherent new approach that addresses the ambitions and expectations of an anti-racism curriculum, and, crucially, that they have been created through a robust process that has centred anti-racism expertise and lived experience of racism.
  • Working with the Scottish Qualifications Authority and its successor body to ensure appropriate inclusion of race equality and anti-racism practice and content in the development of new or adapted course specifications, and relevant guidance.

Publication of the third annual Diversity in the Teaching Profession data report – scheduled for 28 March 2023. Last year’s report can be found here - Diversity in the Teaching Profession Scotland Annual Data Report (

  • The Racism and Racist Incidents Subgroup will develop, in collaboration with the other AREP working groups where relevant, resources for schools to prevent and respond to racism and racist incidents, including strengthening approaches to recording and monitoring.
  • Support the Scottish Council of Deans of Education (and individual institutions) to encourage engagement with their upcoming Anti-Racism in Initial Teacher Education Framework – framework was soft launched in April 2023 with a formal launch event on the 9th of June 2023.
  • Continue to fund and support the General Teaching Council for Scotland’s National Race Diversity Lead to carry out his role on improving ethnic diversity of the teaching workforce and ensuring that the recommendations from the Diversity in the Teaching Profession Working Group and subsequent actions identified, are acted upon.

Learning additional languages

Scottish Government is considering the next steps for language policy after the successful implementation of the 1+2 approach. This will provide an opportunity to consider support for schools and local authorities to make language choices within this approach that take account of the needs of their young people, including in terms of the languages of racialized minorities.

Additional support for Learning

Additional support for learning (ASL) policy seeks to ensure that all children and young people get the support they need to achieve their full potential, including those who are Gypsy/Travellers. We are determined to improve the educational experiences of children and young people with additional support needs through our ongoing ASL Action Plan, due for completion by the end of this parliament. In November 2022 we published an updated progress report showing that twenty-four actions had been completed. We are working closely with local government partners through the Additional Support for Learning Project Board to deliver the remaining actions.

We are also funding specific work to support the education of Gypsy/Traveller children, through our delivery partner, the Scottish Traveller Education Programme (STEP). In 2022, the Scottish Government commissioned research into the educational experiences of Gypsy/Traveller children and their families. This was completed in April 2023 with a report on findings due at their November conference which will help inform improvement in the way this community is supported into and through their education. STEP, with input from young people from the Gypsy/Traveller community, developed a transitions toolkit to support access to education and post-school destinations. Guidance was produced encouraging parents and schools to work together to support visits to secondary schools so children and young people can make informed choices. We are working with Education Scotland to share these resources with professionals and families and gather metrics on how they are being used. Furthermore, a Digital Rapid Assessment Guide (D-Rag) was produced ensuring teachers can access pupil attainment levels quickly, avoiding gaps in learning following travelling. The materials in the Guide are culturally relevant to Gypsy/Traveller families. We will, alongside Education Scotland, promote and monitor the uptake of this resource.

In November 2023, STEP, supported by the Scottish Government, are organising an education conference, bringing together key strategic keyholders involved in education. This event will showcase findings from our education research and how this can be utilised to improve practice and support community engagement in education. In 2023, STEP will launch a school pledge. Schools which are leaders in providing a culturally appropriate curriculum and building positive relationships with the Gypsy/Traveller community can have this recognised

Parental involvement in their children’s education

The National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS) published their review of the impact of Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 2006 Act in 2017. A consultation was undertaken in 2020 on updating the draft of the statutory guidance for the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 2006. This work was paused due to Covid-19 and initial discussions on restarting this work have been undertaken. By updating the guidance, we aim to ensure that parental involvement and engagement – and the legal duties that underpin this important aspect in education – is given due prominence and recognition.

Our vision for improving parental involvement and engagement was set-out in the ‘Learning Together Action Plan (2018-2021)’. This was a joint plan between Scottish Government and COSLA with close involvement from ADES. When the Deputy First Minister launched the “Learning Together” parental engagement plan in 2018 it was announced that up to £350,000 in funding would be available over two years as part of a new equalities and equity fund. The aim of the fund was to address barriers that may be faced by groups including disabled parents, parents of children with additional support needs, black and parents from other racialised minorities, parents living in poverty, fathers and various other groups. Following a bidding exercise, eight projects were identified for funding, one of which was focused solely on minority ethnic parents. This fund opened for bids in Autumn 2019 and the projects began in early 2020.

While most of these projects are now complete, there are some that are in their final stages following a delay due to Covid-19. We will continue to work with Education Scotland to promote and disseminate within the system, where appropriate, a selection of outputs from this work.

The Scottish Association of Minority Ethnic Educators (SAMEE) were commissioned to gather the views of minority ethnic parents and carers during the listening phase of the National Discussion on Education, which took place last year. These views will be taken account of as the Scottish Government and partners consider the outputs of the National Discussion, which are set to be published later in the Spring.

Education Maintenance Allowance Programme

We continue to work with delivery partners, local authorities and colleges (via the Scottish Funding Council), who lead on the promotion of Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) to ensure all young people, including those from ethnic minority backgrounds are aware of the support. Local authorities and colleges continue to promote EMA through a number of ways, such as through school/college websites, newsletters, social media, posters, local libraries and college prospectus. The promotional campaigns have created increased awareness of the programme, which helps young people overcome financial barriers to access and remain in learning.

Goal 15: Minority ethnic pupils are provided with careers guidance that helps to improve transition into employment and tackles occupational segregation in relation to race.

Careers guidance for transition into employment

As part of the Careers Review an Implementation Plan has been developed to take forward the current careers strategy with a particular focus on the equalities remit with support from the Equalities team in Skills Development Scotland (SDS). The Careers Final Review Report was published in March 2023. Each recommendation from the Career Review is accompanied by an equality statement.

SDS work with local and national groups who support people from minority ethnic communities, including people who are refugees, asylum seekers or who are Gypsies or travellers. SDS helps these groups find out about our services and websites, to facilitate increased awareness and access to support. SDS work with local and national groups, TENET (the Scottish Traveller Education Network) and the Scottish Refugee Council to do this.

People coming to live in Scotland will have skills or qualifications from another country. SDS work with Skills Recognition Scotland to better understand these skills and qualifications. This will help people who have moved to live in Scotland get more education, training or work at the correct level. SDS also let people who have come to live in Scotland know about their rights covering education, training and employment, to help more of these people get more education, training or work.

As a core element to the Careers Information, Advice & Guidance (CIAG) School Service Offer, advisers continue to take all opportunities to promote the full range of routes and pathways to young people and to challenge preconceptions and stereotypes in group and 1:1 settings. SDS CIAG enhanced offer, in line with the Career Education Standard, extended 1:1 engagements to first subject choices S2/S3, as well as the core group engagements to challenge stereotypes and preconceptions and raise aspirations.

Experiential career education will be key for minority ethnic pupils and as such we would recommend that this framework recognises this by encompassing not only career guidance but career education, information, and advice.

Education Scotland continued to support the Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) Regional Employer - Equalities Focus Group advising on the educational developments and integration. Education Scotland also incorporated equalities and inclusion throughout their work in this area. (For more information see: Career Education Standards 3-18: Learning Resource 7 that was followed by the delivery of a series of Continual Professional Development sessions).

The outputs from the DYW programme (the Career Education Standard 3-18 and Work Placement Standard) have been actively used in schools for over 5 years. Education Scotland maintain the profiles (from an operational perspective), continuously supporting the professional development of teachers and practitioners on implementing DYW, and they form part of the current school inspection programme. This is all of course caveated by the education reform agenda. The thought paper - Learner Pathways: A key to successful curriculum design collaboratively developed by Education Scotland and NoTosh, is the culmination of the Learner Pathways work. Its aims were not only to share and explore the views of the participants, but also their vision for the Scottish education system in the years ahead. Education Scotland are re-convening all the participants to reflect upon the initial paper and evaluate its relevance in a post lockdown, OECD and Muir informed education system.

DYW Regional Groups are the conduit through which SG facilitates employers and schools to interact, with a strong focus on the senior phase, to support young people transition into the world of work. Scottish Government works with Skills Development Scotland and training providers to highlight the importance of vocational pathways, including apprenticeships, in a young person’s journey to the labour market and for the economy. This work is enhanced by the implementation of DYW School Coordinators providing additional resource in every secondary school across the country to highlight those work based and vocational pathways.

DYW is committed to supporting all young people achieve their potential, including those from ethnic minorities. By working collaboratively with third sector organisations, including Intercultural Youth Scotland (IYS), DYW Regional Groups aim to increase work-based learning and employer engagement opportunities for those who would benefit most. IYS define themselves as “a leading charity for Black and People of Colour (BPOC) youth.” They provide support to school leavers, ensuring the pupils can express themselves, receive adequate pastoral support in cases where challenging circumstances hinder career plans, and access opportunities after leaving school that suit them. IYS also work with other third sector organisations, schoolteachers and Skills Development Scotland to ensure there are opportunities for work experience and advice relevant to specific industries and fields.

Goal 16: Minority ethnic pupils have confidence in, and are effectively supported by, approaches in schools to prevent and respond to prejudice-based bullying and racist behaviour or incidents.

In November 2017, the Scottish Government published anti-bullying guidance ‘Respect for All: The National Approach to Anti-bullying for Scotland’s Children and Young People.’ Respect for All provides the overarching framework for all adults working with children and young people to address all types of bullying, including prejudice-based bullying. In 2019, Scottish Government funded the Coalition of Racial Equality and Rights (CRER) to publish a resource on racist bullying and racist incidents, in line with Respect for All.

We have begun a review of Respect for All, which will include consideration of prejudice-based bullying, and are engaging with respectme, Scotland’s anti-bullying service, to consider these very serious matters. We have established a working group of stakeholders to support this work.

The Racism and Racist Incidents workstream of the Anti-Racism in Education Programme (AREP) (outlined in Goal 14, above) is focussed on developing the support to schools and school staff to improve understanding of racism and to ensure that these issues are properly identified and addressed. The primary role of the working group is to develop resources for schools to prevent and respond to racism and racist incidents, including strengthening approaches to recording and monitoring, and developing guidance on a whole-school approach to anti-racism.

A summary of anti-bullying resources has been developed by Education Scotland which includes information on prejudice-based bullying and hate crime. A webpage on Education Scotland’s Promoting Race Equality and Anti-Racist Education, “Dealing Effectively with Racist Bullying and Racist Incidents,” has been developed to signpost and present further guidance to practitioners. Education Scotland is working with SAGRABIS to further develop teacher professional learning resources on promoting positive behaviour using restorative practices. This includes learning at an informed level of knowledge and skilled levels.

Goal 17: Scotland's educators are confident and empowered to promote equality, foster good relations and prevent and deal with racism.

Building racial literacy within the education workforce

Education Scotland (ES) offers a range of anti-racism professional learning opportunities available at all stages of an educator’s career. The Stepping Stones programme for Early Career teachers signposts participants to professional learning activities on anti-racism education and is working to create links with national networks to support BME early career teachers. The Educator Leadership programme is centred around individual practitioner enquiry which for some focusses on equalities and anti-racism education. The Middle Leaders Leading Change Programme includes anti-racism as a core component. For aspiring head-teachers, the Into Headship programme includes race equality as part of its core module on the Equality Act, with opportunities for participants to deepen their learning with additional webinars on anti-racism and racial literacy. These have also been provided as seminars at national conferences. For experienced head-teachers, the Excellence in Headship offers sessions on leading for social justice, with a strong focus on anti-racism. For educators and education system leaders, the Building Racial Literacy (BRL) programme is an anti-racism professional learning programme which requires participants to produce a personalised anti-racism action plan.

Past participants from the BRL programme have been supported to implement their action plans and, through further development opportunities, have been supported to use the programme’s resources to design and deliver anti-racism professional learning in different settings (e.g. school in-service training). The BRL+ webinar series bring together new collaborators and showcase innovative practice developed by past participants on the Building Racial Literacy programme. To date these include a webinar on Anti-Racist Clubs and a webinar on Anti-Racist Curriculum Design.

Other professional learning opportunities available to all include sessions at the Scottish Learning Festival and three Professional Learning Activities on anti-racism accessible on the Education Scotland Professional Learning and Leadership (PLL) website. Education Scotland’s PLL team continue to seek ways to further embed antiracism in programmes and to add to the bank of resources freely available to all educators at every stage of their career. Education Scotland has continued to build the Promoting Race Equality and Anti-Racist in Education website where practitioners can access guidance support for whole-establishment approaches to anti-racism. Curriculum areas of Literacy, Numeracy and Health & Wellbeing are live, with plans to publish the Anti-Racist Curriculum Principles emerging from the Anti-Racism in Education Programme’s Curriculum Reform workstream.

Goal 18: Scotland's education workforce better reflects the diversity of its communities.

The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that Scotland’s education workforce reflects the communities and population that it serves (see also Goal 14). Initial ambitions to meet this goal focused on the teaching profession only, with the Strategic Board of Teacher Education establishing a short-term working group as part of the Race Equality Action Plan (REAP) 2017-21. Chaired by Professor Rowena Arshad it considered how to tackle the underrepresentation of minority ethnic teachers in Scotland and published Teaching in a Diverse Scotland.

Building upon that group’s work, the Diversity in the Teaching Profession and Education Workforce (DITPEW) subgroup of the Anti-Racism in Education Programme (AREP) is taking forward the actions in Professor Arshad’s report including the ambition that by 2030 4% of the teaching population will identify as being Black or minority ethnic. Actions underway include:

  • Working with the Scottish Council of Deans of Education to implement their new Anti-Racism in Initial Teacher Education Framework.
  • Funding and supporting a new National Race Diversity post within the General Teaching Council for Scotland.
  • Working with internal and external stakeholders to better understand how they can utilise the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 with regards to using positive action to increase diversity within their workforce.
  • DYW Live sessions are being developed and are due to be available during the new school term (2023-24), as part of the ambitions of the DITPEW subgroup of the AREP to directly engage with Black and minority ethnic young people to help attract more students from minority ethnic backgrounds into the teaching profession and wider education workforce.

The Teacher Recruitment Campaign while focused on STEM also aimed to increase the diversity of those applying for initial teacher education programmes. At the beginning of April, the Scottish Council of Deans of Education published a National Anti-Racism Framework for ITE which aims to assist recruitment and support those from a diverse background.

Goal 19: Minority ethnic people experience better outcomes in completing further and higher education, and in transitioning to the labour market after completion.

We expect all institutions to meet their statutory obligation to tackle discrimination, prejudice, and disadvantage suffered by students due to their race. The Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED), created under the Equality Act 2010, means that institutions must, in the exercise of their functions, have due regard to the need to:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act.
  • Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
  • Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

In line with the PSED, institutions must publish a set of Equality Outcomes every four years, and a report updating on progress made towards achieving these outcomes every two years, at the mid-way point of the reporting cycle.

As part of its March 2020 Memorandum of Understanding with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) worked with them to produce guidance to support institutions in setting evidence based, measurable equality outcomes for the period 2021-2025.

In addition, the SFC and EHRC jointly produced a report, ‘Tackling persistent inequalities together’, published in January 2023. This outlines the most pressing persistent inequalities in the tertiary education system and asks institutions to address them by contributing to a set of National Equality Outcomes (NEOs). Institutions will be expected to prioritise, and demonstrate progress against these NEOs, in line with their reporting requirements under the PSED.

With regard to race, the following NEOs have been identified for institutions to prioritise and report on:

  • Staff and students feel supported and safe and are confident that complaints of harassment or bias on the grounds of race will be dealt with appropriately because complaints procedures are fit for purpose and offer effective redress.
  • Institutions should also have regard to attainment levels by racial group and ensure that their curriculum is diverse and anti-racist.

The Scottish Government will continue to work with the SFC as they seek to develop a national measurement framework to understand the impact of actions and progress on the NEOs as outlined above.

It is for individual institutions to ensure that minority ethnic students transitioning into the labour market, have access to effective guidance.

Continuing action in this area will be taken forward as part of the Scottish Government’s ongoing reform of further and higher education. Consultation on those reform proposals is underway.



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