Curriculum Reform Subgroup - minutes: June 2022

Minutes from the group's meeting on 30 June 2022.

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Khadija welcomed all to the seventh meeting of the Curriculum Refom SubGroup and noted quite a few apologies – from Hakim, Titi, Munibah, Matthew, Hazel, Katie, Frank, Pavi, Sadia, Theo, Laura-Ann, Denise, Frank, Sara and Monica (Medina in her new role at SQA).

A particular welcome was extended to Clare Hicks, the Scottish Government Director for Education Reform, who joined the meeting to engage with discussions on the draft antiracist curriculum principles.    

Khadija advised that the draft antiracist curriculum principles would be the key area for discussion at the meeting - a really important feature of the SubGroup’s work that is hoped will be a significant new feature of the curriculum design and delivery landscape in future, and which will bring to life the inclusive and responsive curriculum that we want for our children and young people.

Before that we there would be updates and reflections, and following an opportunity to discuss where to go next as a SubGroup.

Minutes from last meeting and updates on actions

Jovan noted that no written comments had been received on the minutes and invited members to query or request amendments. 

Note: written comments have subsequently been received from Pavi reiterating the importance of ensuring a wide range of engagement including parents and families and that ‘educators’ should be regarded as all those that engage in that role and not just school teachers.

The action from the previous meeting was that: Work will progress to add substance and additional planning to the recommendations for discussion at the next meeting.

This is ongoing and will be shared with members for comment at a later date. It will take the SubGroup’s recommendations and add detail on the key organisations that are responsible for the delivery and the role of the SubGroup in supporting this. It will also identify the funding and any other resources that will be attached to actions and timelines and milestones.

Updates - opportunity for questions and comments

The paper covered: 

  • updates from other workstreams
  • Teacher Panel session
  • Antiracist curriculum development - Good practice gathering exercise
  • Empire, Slavery and Scotland’s Museums (ESSM) Report and Recommendations

A verbal update from Judith Ballantine on the Children and Young People Group noted that the Scottish Government remained committed to ensuring that everyone's rightful expectations of this vital strand of work aligned to the activity and output. A full update would be provided shortly by email.
In response to updates, there was a query on any feedback from the Teacher Panel and it was noted that there was broad interest and appreciation for the update and admiration expressed for the work underway at Royal High School in partnership with Intercultural Youth Scotland.

Associated with the ESSM work Jovan noted the Intercultural Youth Scotland contribution Museums (Re)told: The Legacy Report capturing the Black people and People of Colour community response. 

Lewis added (as a member of the working group) that he’d be happy to answer any questions from the ESSM perspective and recognised the contribution of IYS and CRER, and was glad there were further links with this process for the education subgroups and beyond. Also noted that the recommendations were just a step hopefully to then involving more groups and even wider sector engagement moving forward. 

Curriculum reform - framework review and design group

Jovan noted that there have been short updates on the work of the Curriculum Framework Review and Design Group since it formed in January and that it’s great to be able to share their output for discussion with the SubGroup.

The Group have developed draft principles for an antiracism curriculum (for children and young people, and leaders and educators in the first instance).

As a brief reminder of the background:

  • The Curriculum Framework Review and Design Group was established to focus on the key priority of the SubGroup:
    • remit to identify where the existing Curriculum Framework provides opportunities to meaningfully embed and articulate race equality and antiracism, and the key principles and features of future Curriculum Reform
    • the Group have met six times and focused on the scope of the task and the different ways to deliver
    • initially looked at some of the Experiences and Outcomes in social studies as examples of where change can be realised
    • identified the key initial task - to capture some principles and outcomes for an antiracism curriculum that can be used as a lens and a guide to our work going forward, and developed to support and inform the design and delivery of curriculums at local level across the country
    • in May the draft principles were shared with some ‘critical friends’ for initial views and their valuable feedback will form the basis of the questions and provocations for our small-group discussions

The draft principles were in Paper 7.3 and two breakout groups, facilitated Nuzhat and Carol, provided an opportunity to discuss and share views on the draft principles. These are noted in the Annex.

It was advised that the Curriculum Framework Review and Design Group would be spending a day together in August to further refine the draft based on comments received. Thereafter they will be shared with children and young people and other key stakeholders for their views and an opportunity for further refinement.

What next?

Khadija suggested that it was natural point to pause and reflect, acknowledge where we are and consider what is next. It was noted that:

  • We’ve come to the end of our initial schedule of meetings.
  • We’ve achieved a lot and we should be pleased with what has been accomplished and the manner in which we have done that.
  • There have been and will continue to be frustrations to contend with.     
  • We have clear and strong emerging recommendations.
  • We have draft principles for an antiracist curriculum.
  • Important to note that our ambitions to engage with children and young people have not been properly realised yet and must be prioritised for the next phase of activity.
  • We are working alongside other workstreams that are creating change that will align with and amplify the wider ambitions.
  • We have plans, energy and funding to start delivering our recommendations.

Khadija advised that she had been to invited to Chair the reconfigured REAREP Programme Board and has accepted. She will continue to work with the Curriculum Reform workstream in that context but will withdraw from the role as Co-Chair and will work with Jovan to identify a replacement. 

Jovan stated how much Khadija would be missed in the role and that discussions were underway to ensure continuity. Khadija and Jovan have identified the following criteria to assist with that, with the ideal person co-chairing:

  • a Woman of Colour
  • with experience of Scottish education landscape, ideally with direct teaching experience 
  • with antiracism and education expertise and credibility

The plan will be to look within the SubGroup to maintain the momentum that has been built together. Members were asked to consider any additional criteria or factors. There was support for the criteria and it was noted that the wider group should be invited to respond in writing due to the number of apologies.

Planning and next steps

Jovan advised that the recommendations and draft principles would give the next phase of work a clear focus. As noted earlier, Laura will continue to work up a plan against the recommendations that will add further structure.

At the discussion at meeting six on the recommendations there was support expressed for some short-term smaller groups to drive forward focused work on key issues such as the model for creating resources, and what would be expected from a website that is designed to be inclusive. There would also be tasks that take the antiracist curriculum principles and apply them to specific areas identified as priorities such as early years or personal and social education.

It was proposed that the SubGroup reconvene later in the summer or early Autumn with a plan for discussion based on the current schedule of meetings every 6 weeks and smaller task-focused groups.

Support was expressed for this and any thoughts, alternative suggestions or challenges were welcomed over the summer by email.

Jovan thanked members for their contributions and wished everyone a great summer break.

Annex A - breakout group discussions

Points made in discussion:

  • it would be valuable to apply the principles to the four curriculum capacities
  • needs children and young people input
  • requirement to link to updated GTCS standards in the educator and leader section
  • need to build alliances and make connections with other groups who have experienced discrimination, and relevant work
  • make links to four capacities in the learner section
  • make clearer/strengthen part about activism, being proactive (as tangible, practical ways of enacting the “Be empowered to bring about…” statement)
  • mportant to ensure that early years and CLD are included
  • should be regarded as a work-in-progress that is staged and phased in implementation to ensure it can be refined and reconsidered in application and to encourage practitioners to ‘have a go’    
  • the how needs to underpin it in a visual way and with examples
  • opportunity to strengthen intersectionality and other protected characteristics
  • UNCRC and children’s rights links
  • does professional learning offer opportunities to connected with all the points that are noted? Can we meet the needs identified? If not this will undermine the approach
  • it needs to be underpinned by professional standards
  • not only for teachers
  • importance of balance between support and challenge and of valuing and supporting teachers with this.
  • need the motivation to invest in this
  • respecting commitment to antiracism for all
  • recognise digital technology opportunities
  • teachers have a duty of care to recognise this time of change and challenge harmful structures and behaviours
  • how does this connect with the vital role of ITE?
  • wording needs to be more child friendly – or alternatively produce an easy read version for CYP
  • extra support needed for teachers without the immediate challenge in less diverse areas
  • support will be needed from leaders to take this forward
  • where are the principles for government and its agencies eg Education Scotland, SQA, Skills Development Scotland? Link with CRER’s antiracism guidance for policymakers
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