Curriculum Reform Subgroup - minutes: January 2022

Minutes from the group's meeting on 13 January 2022.

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Khadija welcomed all to the fourth meeting of the Race Equality and Anti-Racism in Education Curriculum Reform SubGroup. 

Apologies were noted from Titi, Daniella, Victory, Denise and Frank. Munibah and Theo would be leaving sharp due to other commitments.

François Roos from the Scottish Government Early Years Policy Team was welcomed to the SubGroup.

Khadija advised that the focus of the meeting would be in articulating the discussions and key points covered so far as a SubGroup into recommendations and actions. The recommendations would form part of the wider approach to race equality and anti-racism in education programme of work, and set the agenda for our future meetings, priorities and funded pieces of work. 

It was emphasised that this would not be the only opportunity to do this – rather the first one. The SubGroup will want to refine and adapt their recommendations over coming weeks and months to reflect decisions and priorities. The SubGroup would also want to ensure that the Children and Young People’s Group is clearly influencing the direction, and that its outcomes are able to align with the wider Education Reform work led by Ken Muir. 

Khadija reflected that the ongoing success of the SubGroup depended upon mutual trust and respect among members and may, at times, require a degree of sensitivity around discussions in seeking to arrive at a consensus and, ultimately, provide advice to Scottish Government Ministers. Members were asked to note that open and frank discussion would be encouraged but that discourse must remain respectful at all times of individuals and the organisations that they represent.

Minutes from last meeting and update on actions

Jovan introduced the opportunity to raise comments to be discussed or amended in the note of meeting three and invited contributions.

Actions from meeting three were outlined with updates as follows:

  • update the Vision with further comments received
    With thanks to Pavi for raising this important issue, the Vision now explicitly mentions Critical Race Theory as the framework which underpins the SubGroup’s work and ambition. The updated Vision is set out as part of the agenda paper to include this.
  • follow up on the Children and Young People Group tender process
    This features in the updates section from the Scottish Government.
  • follow up on Review and Design Group on the Curriculum Framework
    Members were advised of plans, as outlined in the email in December from Laura, to address this key area of work identified to review and consider the current curriculum framework and where there were opportunities and cases for change.
    A small group has been formed to lead this work. The remit and other details are set out in paper 4.2. The plan had been for the first meeting to take place on 12 January but this has had to be postponed till 19 January.
    The Group remit has been developed in consultation with the Scottish Government, Education Scotland and the Chairs in line with agreement at meeting 2, excerpt from meeting notes:
    As previously discussed, Jovan identified the need for a smaller group to hone these issues and work through the practicalities of them to create draft recommendations for further consideration by the SubGroup. The Education Scotland paper and the points made by members in discussion would be a good starting point.
    The suggestion that this smaller group be largely formed from teachers and young people on the Group (that wish to/are able to contribute) alongside some specific curriculum and anti-racism expertise was agreed. Experience of delivering and receiving the Curriculum Framework would be key and additional sources of curriculum and anti-racism expertise would be identified where required, for example academics that lead on race, anti-racism and literature. Discussion will be arranged with MSYPs and Intercultural Youth Scotland on how to make this an accessible and productive space for young people’s contributions. How it works alongside the Children and Young People’s Group will be discussed and agreed at the earliest opportunity.
    Khadija and Jovan will attend selected meetings to ensure that the views and principles of the SubGroup remain central to the work.
    The Group will be chaired by the Scottish Government Head of Curriculum, Hazel Bartels, and Education Scotland Senior Education Officer for Equalities, Inclusion and Wellbeing, Jacqui Nimmo. This is to reflect the lead role that both organisations will have in taking SubGroup recommendations to senior education leaders and the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills for consideration.
    Membership is drawn largely from the SubGroup and involves Titi, Carol, Lewis, Theo and Crisantos. Additional members will be Hashim Ul-Hassan, primary teacher and anti-racist educator, and Navan Govender from the University of Strathclyde bringing experience from the further education sector as well as literacy and anti-racist education expertise.
    SubGroup members individually and collectively will be called upon as critical friends throughout the short-life working group. As soon as is possible, arrangements will be made to bring the Children and Young People Group into the programme of work. Draft recommendations will be brought back to the SubGroup for discussion and sign off before being shared widely with stakeholders, further refined, and submitted to the Scottish Government Curriculum and Assessment Board for review. We expect this will happen by Summer 2022. 
  • follow up on the development of a Snapshot/Good Practice Paper on Race Equality and Anti-Racism in Scotland’s schools
    Paper 4.3 sets out a proposal for a short-term piece of work to capture existing good practice schools aimed at promoting and embedding an anti-racist curriculum. The paper has been developed by the SubGroup Secretariat with input from the Chairs, and SubGroup members Peter McNaughton and Hakim Din in recognition of their role with local authorities and in supporting curriculum redesign at local authority and school level. The intention is that Hakim will lead the work on behalf of the Scottish Government and the SubGroup.
    Once further planning takes place, members will be invited to share contacts and case studies identifying good practice that they are aware of, or part of, to be included in the paper. The intention is that the work will begin shortly and conclude by the end of March 2022.
    Action: members to be contacted to contribute to key contacts and connections to be included in the paper.
  • Secretariat to further develop social media/comms plan with a view to submitting to the Children and Young People’s Group for discussion and development
    Ongoing, updates will follow once there is progress to report.

The following points were raised in discussion:

  • Pavi enquired about how home education and grassroots involvement would be factored into the curriculum framework review. Sara asked about schools in the independent sector. Peter and Michael expressed support for the outline of the Framework Group but queried the lack of LA involvement
  • Jovan advised that the criteria had to be quite tight to ensure a small and focused group and reassured that this was where the ‘critical friends’ expertise from SubGroup members would play in
  • Hakim welcomed the Curriculum Framework Group and stressed the importance of open-mindedness and ambition in the task and not to feel constrained or bound
  • Asif supported this and was pleased to start seeing progress. Highlighted the need to have courage in making decisions and not allow ourselves to feel paralysed by the fear of getting something wrong

The notes of meeting three were signed off as drafted.

Updates from Scottish Government and Education Scotland

Laura provided the following update on the Children and Young People’s Group (note: this includes additional information to address queries made by SubGroup members about scope):

  • Show Racism the Red Card have been awarded the contract to lead the Children and Young People’s Group in late December 2021
  • recruitment for the Group is underway with good engagement from council areas across Scotland, across all four age group areas covered (Early Years, Primary, Secondary, Young People). They are using an application process (involving parents for younger age groups), and anticipate a good number of applications
  • workshops/meetings with young people will involve minority ethnic Show Racism the Red Card ambassadors with lived experience of racism and Islamophobia, supported by experienced youth workers in order to create fair, equitable spaces for sharing experiences. Topics to be discussed by the Group may result in conversations about the lived experiences of those on the Group. The focus of the discussions will not be about reliving experiences, the focus will be on the change that children and young people want to see. However, where children and young people do wish to explore their lived experience, support, dignity and empowerment for those taking part will be the integral to all engagements
  • the intention is to hold the first workshop in February, at which point an agreed list of actions across the programme should be in place from the SubGroups to set out initial priorities
  • Laura will make contact with the organisation soon to discuss working with the Curriculum Reform SubGroup and the young people that are already part of the work and is very happy to share information, expectations and ask questions on behalf of the SubGroup

Lynne advised of two areas of work where partner activity was producing resources for schools relevant to the SubGroup’s remit:

  • Glasgow University Humanities resource: This is part of a partnership which has been running for eight years which partners academics with teachers to produce resources based on current research in the humanities. This resource will be based on the work of Dr Christine Whyte and we currently have a primary teacher and history teacher partnered together to produce the classroom resources. Dr Whyte’s research is based on the stories of children who were brought from Africa to Scotland by Scottish missionaries
  • National Museum of Scotland are shortly to launch materials to support secondary history teachers in teaching the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Jacqui advised that Education Scotland is now facilitating a collaborative working space for local authorities, beginning with practitioners from Glasgow City Council and City of Edinburgh Council. This work has two main aims: to make available nationally, high quality resources, created by practitioners for practitioners; and to begin to build a national network of practitioners to ensure sustainability of this work. Existing individual resources are identified and developed further in order to share nationally, modelling good practice. Support for implementation is also planned. The first will focus on an interdisciplinary learning project, followed by a project which could support primary – secondary transition.

Mélina provided the following updates on the work of the other workstreams:

Racism and racist incidents

The last meeting was in November. Quite some time spent on discussing terminology and further meeting is being organised to reconsider the use of the word “bullying” as part of this workstream. The draft action plan which came from Stakeholder Network Group discussions in 2021 was reviewed and the SubGroup came to the agreement that there should be a whole-school approach document for racism and racist incidents. The Scottish Government will bring a skeleton outline of a whole-school approach to the next workstream meeting for feedback. 

School leadership and professional learning

There was a meeting in early January 2022 – update on Building Racial Literacy programme which started this week with a first cohort of 80+ participants from across Scotland – still at a prototype stage. A lot of the School Leadership and Professional Learning action plan will depend on the other workstreams actions. The SubGroup identified other areas where Professional Learning is required – One area identified was employer responsibilities (managing racism/racist incidents) for BME staff, but also for students on placement. Members also felt that it was essential to involve HR colleagues from the outset.

Diversity in the teaching profession and education workforce

The SubGroup met in December to review the draft action plan and its key themes which are as follows:

  • supporting the Black and Minority Ethnic education workforce
  • National Post: Diversity in teaching profession (GTCS post which is up the interview stage at the moment)
  • Initial Teacher Education and Early Learning and Childcare training provision: National Framework for Racial Diversity
  • diversity data collection and publication
  • recruitment, retention and promotion practices

Curriculum reform - emerging recommendations and priorities

Khadija advised that emerging recommendations and actions to reflect discussions to date have been requested from the four workstreams for discussion at the Stakeholder Network meeting on 27 January.

Through discussions over the previous three meetings, and the previous months of meetings and engagement a range of issues have emerged and this is a chance for SubGroup members to articulate what those should be. Small group discussion would focus on what recommendations and actions – so far – should be. 

Members were asked to consider where actions or recommendations that require some funded activity could be built into plans.

Chairs and the Secretariat would collate comments into proposed recommendations and action for comment and sign off over the next fortnight. This will be fed into the wider programme report which we be shared and discussed at the next meeting.

Action: draft recommendations to be collating and shared with members for comment with a view to sharing at the Stakeholder Network meeting on 27 January.

Planning for next meeting

Meeting five, scheduled for 24 February, would focus on working with the Children and Young People Group and on the Curriculum Framework Review and Design Group discussions.

It will also be an opportunity to discuss the wider programme recommendations and activity as well as the SubGroup’s agreed recommendations and how to structure the future programme of work to support that, and to plan for any funded activity to support that.

Any other business or reflections and close

Jovan thanked members for their valuable contributions and advised that follow up would take place on issues to be progressed by email regarding SubGroup recommendations and contacts for participation in the Good Practice Report.

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