Curriculum Reform Subgroup - minutes: April 2023

Minutes of the group's meeting on 19 April 2023.

Attendees and apologies


  • Mélina Valdelièvre, Education Scotland – Equalities (Chair)
  • Monica Medina, Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) 
  • Asif Chishti, General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS)
  • Peter McNaughton, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)
  • Carol Young, Coalition for Race Equality and Rights (CRER)
  • Crisantos Ike, Member of Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYP)
  • Mark Chan, Member of Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYP)
  • Rosy Burgess, Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP)
  • Iain Morrison, Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)
  • Katie Hunter, History Teacher, Edinburgh and member of Scottish Association of Teachers of History
  • Hakim Din, Education Consultant 
  • Frank Thomson, Community Learning and Youth Work 
  • Lewis Hou, Science Ceilidh 
  • Sara Medel Jiménez, Spanish Teacher
  • Sadia Hussain-Şavuk, Biology teacher and Anti-Racist Education Consultant 
  • Theo Ogbhemhe, RMPS teacher in Orkney 
  • Lynne Robertson, Education Scotland – Social Studies
  • Craig Flunkert, Scottish Government – Curriculum Unit
  • Laura Ross, Scottish Government – Curriculum Unit 


  • Jovan Rao Rydder, Curriculum Reform Subgroup 
  • Urooj Chaudhary, Member of Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYP)
  • Laura-Ann Currie, Education Scotland – Inclusion, Wellbeing and Equalities 
  • Nuzhat Uthmani, Primary Principal Teacher, Glasgow
  • Michael Roach, Inverclyde Council 

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Mélina welcomed all to the meeting. Apologies were noted from Nuzhat, Urooj, Michael and Laura-Ann. Jovan had to send last-minute apologies and the meeting was chaired by Mélina.

New member, Iain Morrison, Head of Humanities Qualifications Development (which covers the social studies curriculum area) at SQA, was warmly welcomed to the Group. Iain will replace Denise Dunlop.

The purpose of the meeting would be to reflect on and recognise progress across the four working groups, followed by an opportunity to discuss and agree next steps. Iain Morrison would be providing an update on the questionnaire that members were invited to contribute to exploring opportunities for inclusion to be better reflected in the Higher History qualifications.

It was noted, with apologies, that there was no paper 9.2. with updates. Updates would be provided verbally and noted in these minutes.

Minutes from last meeting and updates on actions

The previous meeting focused on consolidating progress and moving to the four short-life working groups approach. There weren’t any tangible actions beyond establishing those as the way to focus on progressing actions which would be the subject of the later agenda items. 

Updates - opportunity for questions and comments

Mélina invited Laura and Craig from the Curriculum Unit to provide updates on key areas of activity that affect the curriculum workstream.

Updates from the wider AREP board

Anti-Racism in Education Summit – this was planned for 7 June, to be a joint all-day gathering with the Interim Governance Group leading the Developing the National Anti-Racism Infrastructure with the First Minister and other Cabinet Secretaries – all Sub Group members would be invited to attend. Note: the Summit has since been postponed to September/October 2023.

The Intercultural Youth Scotland proposal to lead engagement with young people supporting AREP and its workstreams was met with agreement from the Programme Board. The next phase would be to seek agreement from the Cabinet Secretary.

Scottish Government funding

It was advised that clarity on funding for education (and other SG portfolios) was subject to delays while the new Cabinet developed a shared approach to plans and priorities. The funding for curriculum workstream was tied up in this and plans to progress with areas of work attached to the creation of new resources and other programmes of work could not proceed without explicit approval.

The frustration that accompanied this position was recognised and SG officials committed to updates as soon as possible.

Other workstreams

  • the second annual report on diversity in the teaching profession was published in May 2022
  • the National Anti-Racism Framework for Initial Teacher Education was published by the Scottish Council of Deans of Education and would be formally launched in early June
  • in the Leadership, Professional Learning + Building Racial Literacy area of work it was advised that Mélina had moved within Education Scotland to take on the role of Senior Education Officer for Equalities. The post leading the Building Racial Literacy programme and other aspects of anti-racism professional learning has been advertised and interviews will be held in June
  • in the Racism and Racist Incidents workstream the co-chairs and the Scottish Government policy team had met to begin planning to reconvene activity

ADES curriculum and qualifications group

With thanks to Peter McNaughton for arranging, Mélina, Hakim and Laura will be attending the ADES Curriculum, Assessment and Qualifications Network meeting on Friday 28 April to discuss the anti-racism and curriculum principles, some of what has been gathered from the report of practice so far and how this can support activity at local authority level.

SQA approach to embedding inclusion in history qualifications

In January members were invited to contribute to the SQA questionnaire on opportunities for embedding inclusion in the Higher History qualification. Iain Morrison presented on the findings of the survey. 

Summary of Higher history survey for teachers/lecturers - December 2022

The purpose of the survey was to invite teachers and lecturers who deliver Higher History to provide their feedback on the key issues and description of content for the British, European and world, and Scottish sections of the Higher History Course Specification. This forms a part of regular maintenance of National Qualifications. We also took the opportunity to ask for views on how the course could be made more inclusive.

Key highlights

  • 155 responses to the survey
  • 55 (36%) of the responses intimated that they would like to see changes made in terms of inclusion, anti-racism and equality
  • 40 (73%) of these suggested that there needed to be changes based on anti-racism
  • 11 (20%) intimating that they would like to see a greater focus on the history of civil rights in the UK
  • 6 (11%) would like to see a de-colonisation of the curriculum both in terms of language used and of the way we teach about the British Empire and its impact

Next steps

Focus over coming months will be the delivery of the 2023 examinations and awarding, thereafter:

  • a review of language (Course Specifications, etc) across all NQ and HN social subjects at all levels
  • planning and proposed timelines of wider consultation and changes to courses in reference to all areas of Learning for Sustainability once the direction of the Hayward Review is known in terms of subject updates/reviews/reforms. Publication of changes to delivery or course content requires a one year publication lead time, so waiting for Hayward’s direction ensures that work is not carried out ahead of time and abandoned to follow a different direction

A range of comments and questions were posed on the importance of change in this area relating to colonised voices in the textbooks in the current Empire aspect of the course and the number of educators who continue to use textbooks previously endorsed. There was also queries about how children and young people will be engaged in the approach. The questionnaire and outcomes of the Historical Association data were highlighted as useful and that the focus for this year would be parents and young people. Katie to share details with Iain - Action

Monica advised that she continued to support other areas of SQA such as modern languages and Urdu, classical Indian music and English and literature.

Working group updates

Members that had participated in the working groups so far were thanked for their contributions and time. An update on each was provided as follows:

Design and delivery group for children and young people activity small grants fund

Over £16k has been allocated to young people-led activity in schools. The next area of work will be to scope and design a further phase aimed at a competitive bid fund for all schools and young people groups to access.

Those involved in the activity so far – Crisantos, Mark, Urooj, Jovan and Laura – will continue to lead. Carol very helpfully offered to support the aspect relating to criteria development. Hakim suggested that Show Racism the Red Card could provide insights into school-based funding activity that they had been involved in over a period of years to help identify a suite of options to inspire activity.

Design and support group for infrastructure around creation of new resources

This remains on hold while the funding position is clarified.

Review and design group to progress draft principles

Plan to publish the Principles over the next few weeks if possible to ensure alignment with the Summit and linking to education reform associated with learner-centred education. Mélina currently working on Education Scotland website presentation and any members that wish to be involved in that will be very welcome. Members will be invited to be part of the testing of the website development - Action

Review and complete group to finalise the report of emerging anti-racism in the curriculum

Paper 9.4 provides a draft report of anti-racist practice that has been observed or submitted over recent months as part of the work that Hakim was commissioned to lead. The small working group (involving Hakim, Michael, Peter, Monica, Theo, Asif, Mélina and Laura) has met once so far to consider material gathered and next steps. 

There was consensus that the report gathered a range of valuable examples and evidence but that publishing it as one long report would not be successful in engaging – something sharper that was aligned to wider activity was required with a focus on connecting with educators. The key question was how best to promote and share. It was agreed that using the Principles as key headings and using case studies to exemplify practice in the first instance would be of value. The working group would consider a proposal to publish sections of the report under key themes over 12 months in accessible documents with comms attached.

Meeting schedule, format and priorites for 2023

There was agreement to commit to the proposals set out for the first half of this year to drive forward focused work. It was recognised that progress against each is mixed and the financial uncertainty that underpins key aspects, such as the model for creating resources, is of significant concern.

On that basis work against all themed groups would continue as planned and the full Group would reconvene again at the end of June to review before the summer break. Scottish Government will provide updates on the financial position as soon as possible - Action

Reflections, agenda for next meeting and close

Mélina reflected on the positive developments and tangible progress in some areas but a consciousness that areas that have not progressed continue to require attention with ongoing uncertainty over funding is a significant concern. 

Action: Laura will be in touch seeking availability for the meeting at the end of June, and for volunteers to be involved in the development of the Principles online format and supporting documents. 

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