Curriculum Reform Subgroup - minutes: December 2022

Minutes from the group's meeting on 14 December 2022.

Items and actions

Welcome and purpose of meeting

Jovan welcomed all in attendance and added an especially warm welcome to Mélina in her new role as Co-Chair and the expertise, experience and passion that she brings. Additionally and with thanks to the Scottish Youth Parliament we have two new MSYP members of the SubGroup, Mark Chan and Urooj Chaudhary with Mark in attendance at the meeting. 

Apologies were noted from Titi, Lewis and Sadia. Since the last meeting Munibah has been in touch to advise that she’s unable to continue as a member of the Sub Group at this time.

The purpose of the meeting would be for updates and reflections, followed by an opportunity to discuss and agree the focus for the first half of next year as a SubGroup. Delighted to have Monica and Hakim on the agenda providing updates from their areas of work.

Minutes from last meeting and updates on actions

The previous discissions noted: There was agreement that the priorities going forward should be adding substance and movement to the recommendation and that smaller working groups with specific purposes would be good way to drive that forward. The agenda will return to that proposal later in the meeting.

Updates - opportunity for questions and comments

The updates contained in Paper 8.2 were shared on screen and members were invited to comment or query on any matter.

Jovan provided an update on the wider Programme activity in Judith Ballantine’s absence. It was noted that discission and action was underway to start a deeper conversation on meaningful participation and engagement with children and young people to ensure that the Programme was living up to the intent and commitment outlined at the outset.

Mélina provided an update on the ELPL workstream. The plan for the Anti-Racism in Education Summit was noted and the proposal to create a common anti-racist pledge to harness a collective position and take the focus away from individuals (and hopefully help diffuse online abuse away from  individuals). 

Updates on the other two workstreams will follow (see Annex).

Lynne Robertson from Education Scotland updated on the development of new resources by the University of Glasgow.  These resources - on historic and modern enslavement; one for learners at level 2 and the other for those at level 3 - are now online and can be accessed here.

Laura Ross advised the group of funding that was being allocated via the School Libraries Innovation Fund with a focus on anti-racism, equality and diversity. The update paper provides a summary of that with around £180k invested in a range of projects that are centring literacy, social studies and anti-racism in schools, many in partnership with local community organisations. 

Education reform and other consultation responses

Sub Group members have received information on the various Scottish Government consultations underway relating to education and many will have responded individually or as part of their organisations. The Chairs and other members of the Sub Group have been active in ensuring that the key features of the AREP are articulated at every opportunity. Meetings have been held with the lead professors of both the Hayward Review of Qualifications and Assessment and the National Discussion on Education. A range of sessions specifically designed for Black and People of Colour educators and parents and those with a racialised identity to ensure opportunities for focused engagement. 

The Chairs submitted a response to the National Discussion and to the Consultation on Inspection of early learning and childcare and school age childcare services in Scotland on behalf of the Sub Group reflecting points made in discussions over the months (included with the papers issued).

The deadline for the Hayward Review has been extended into January 2023 and a response will be created on behalf of the Sub Group and shared with members.

The response to the National Discussion was regarded as a useful document and it was confirmed that this could be shared outwith the Sub Group.

Subgroup recommendations

The Sub Group recommendations were set out in the update paper with a short narrative to capture their status and Jovan advised that the meeting and the proposed plan for future meetings would be about developing and progressing some of those. Members also recognised those recommendations where action and progress is going to take longer and be more complicated.

Members were advised that the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills had approved funding to support the development of new resources and the establishment of a small grants fund for children and young people to raise the profile of and embed anti-racism in their schools and communities. These areas would be the subject of two of the working groups that will be set up with members. 

A proposal for funding into 2023 on those areas and additional support for the anti-racism and schools approach will form part of the Scottish Government budget considerations over coming weeks.  Members will be kept updated.

Funding of £40k has been identified to support the design, collaboration and delivery of two resources over coming months. To address the need to create new resources in the short term we have a proposal to ask the Development Education Centres, specifically West of Scotland and ScotDec, to lead the approach in the first instance. Both have experience of creating and delivering anti-racism professional learning and resources and, significantly, in doing so in a collaborative way. We will work in the initial period with the DECs on a collaborative basis that centres the principles of the Sub Group. The working group that is established to support the process will consider the future options for the design and delivery of further resources.

Funding of £20k has been identified for the Small Grants Fund for 2023. The delivery plan for the small grants fund is for the Scottish Government to lead the pilot year and then seek an organisation that can deliver in future. The design and implementation will be shaped and supported by a working group that will seek input specifically from young people and the organisations that support and represent them to ensure that an accessible and innovative project is established.

Evidence and information gathering for 'good practice report'

Hakim was invited to present to members on the work so far to develop a report of good and emerging practice across Scotland as agreed at previous meetings.  

Hakim advised that a draft of a report capturing the phase of work that he had led had been prepared and included some strong examples of activity and leadership in areas that Sub Group members would expect. As well as gathering material evidencing the beginning of anti-racist practice in the curriculum it had been a valuable opportunity to hear from schools, local authorities and RICs on what type of support was needed, and what barriers to progress were.  

Discission with the sector captured much of what has been well rehearsed in the AREP already – the need for visible leadership and commitment to create space for anti-racism work to be meaningful, a hesitation and anxiety from educators about how and where to start, and the importance of advice and support from anti-racist expertise and lived experience in the community.

Developing and promoting the report will be the focus of a small working group to see the approach through to publication and consider what the next steps should be.

Update on Scottish Qualifications Authority role

Monica provided an update on her role in the SQA in relation to racial literacy and anti-racism. This covered cross-organisational work and subject-specific work on qualifications.

Members welcomed the supportive and responsive actions underway led by Monica and were pleased to hear that the anti-racist education role has been made permanent and that the organisation has an anti-racist education plan and executive team sponsor. Areas where progressive activity was emerging were highlighted, in particular in music where Indian classical music was being reviewed for inclusion. There was discussion about Arabic being included as an assessed subject, how to enhance the availability of Urdu in schools, and how best to recognise and support multi-lingual learners.

It was agreed that the Hayward Review would hopefully introduce further opportunities for diversity and racial and cultural literacy to become embedded in the system. Further updates from Monica will be welcomed at future Sub Group meetings.

Principles for an anti-racist curriculum

Mélina reminded members that the previous version of the draft principles were discussed at the June meeting which provided valuable feedback and opportunities to reflect. At an all-day session in August the Design and Framework Group met to consider comments received and developed refined version which is what members now have.

Over recent weeks the draft principles have been shared on an informal basis using the Building Racial Literacy and other networks and contacts as trusted colleagues to provide reflections. We have also shared with a number of anti-racist and equalities groups of children and young people in schools.
There is confidence that the latest version is robust and captures what we want to cover. We are not going to keep finessing language but will add to and edit to ensure clarity and inclusion of any issues not properly addressed. For example, Clare Harker, Head teacher of St Alberts Primary School, has recommended a further principle that makes languages and English as a second language a more visible factor.

We plan to engage with children and young people (cyp) to gain more insights on the current version and to consider whether a separate ‘for cyp, by cyp’ approach is required. 

Comments on the current iteration from members covered the importance of valuing the role of educators and leaders as well as the expectations therein, and recognising the strength of the non-specific setting which allow for CLD to feel included and relevant. The next steps of the principles will form the focus of another short-life working group to support the refinement of the content, the content within which it is framed and the engagement with cyp.

Meeting schedule, format and priorities for 2023

Jovan advised that members expressed support at the last meeting for the establishment of some short-term smaller groups to drive forward focused work on key issues such as the model for creating resources.

New proposals to support this identify four short-life working groups to take forward priority tasks over the first half of next year:

  • design and delivery group for small grants fund
  • design and support group for infrastructure around creation of new resources
  • review and design group to progress draft principles
  • review and complete group to finalise the report of emerging anti-racism in the curriculum

The paper provides some initial detail on the outline of the groups and there will be scope for the groups to develop the detail. The intention is for all groups to begin work in January 2023.

Members were positive about this approach and noted the success from the small working group that had developed the anti-racist curriculum principles as an indication of what could be achieved.

Members were asked to contact Laura with the group or groups that they’d like to participate in. It was reiterated that Chairs will be required for groups and there will be an expectation that those involved will attend meetings and progress work in-between. 

The suggested meeting outline envisages a full meeting of the Sub Group in March and dates will be circulated for that to share progress and other updates.

Reflections, agenda for next meeting and close

Jovan noted that a plan was agreed that will begin in January that will progress two areas of work that are already close to completion and support the start of two new areas of work with new funding.

Jovan closed the meeting with his good wishes for the holiday period and looking  forward to working together in 2023.

Annex A - update from other AREP workstreams

Diversity in the teaching profession and education workforce

  • the Group last met on the 20 December 2022
  • Dr Khadija Mohammed’s framework for delivering anti-racism in ITE is now largely complete and is with SCDE for comment. The DITPEW subgroup are working closely with SCDE and Khadija around what the publication timeline looks like and how we can support its promotion and implementation
  • work has started on the third iteration of the Annual Diversity in the Teaching Profession Data Report. As part of this the group are thinking about how to engage with Local Authorities and ITE providers following the publication and in order to drive forward actions to improve diversity. We are also working to reduce the percentage of teaching staff/student teachers that choose not to disclose their ethnicity 
  • work is underway to develop a session as part of the Developing the Young Workforce series. This work is being led by Pauline Hendry and a small(er) working group

Racism and racist incidents

The Racism and Racist Incidents workstream co-chairs met recently and are discussing plans to reconvene the group early in 2023.

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