Curriculum Reform Subgroup - minutes: March 2022

Minutes from the group's meeting on 15 March 2022.

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Jovan welcomed all to the fifth meeting of the Race Equality and Anti-Racism in Education Curriculum Reform SubGroup. It was noted that the previous meeting had been postponed as significant numbers of apologies were received from those with lived experience and antiracist education skills so it would not have been appropriate to go ahead.

Apologies were received from Lewis, Denise, Fiona, Lynne and Hazel. Jovan welcomed Maryam who joined us as an observer to support Pavi.

The focus of the meeting would be to:

  • revisit the recommendations discussion from the last meeting
  • ensure that they fully capture discussions and ambitions so far
  • discuss and add substance and ownership to the recommendations where possible

There would also be a range of updates relating to the programme and to work attached to the SubGroup.

Jovan referenced the publication of the Professor Muir report, Putting Learners at the Centre: Towards a Future Vision for Scottish Education in early March. The REAREP work is referenced in the report and mentioned in the foreword - the centring of learners and children’s rights provides a valuable platform for our work to be embedded in future plans.

Minutes from last meeting and updates on actions

Comments, clarifications and queries were invited from members. A written request had been received from Pavi to update the minutes to reflect that there was a barrier to her being able to re-join the meeting that resulted in her being excluded from the small group discussions. The note will be amended to reflect this with the wording agreed with Pavi. 

There was only one specific action from the previous meeting - that draft recommendations be collating and shared with members for comment with a view to sharing at the Stakeholder Network meeting on 27 January. This has been done. The note (with Pavi’s requested amendment added) was signed off.

Action: to update and finalise minutes of meeting 4 in consultation with Pavi.

Update from Scottish Government, Education Scotland and Scottish Qualifications Authority

Jovan referred to the large amount of often complex information that is shared as part of these meetings and that the Secretariat and Chairs were keen to explore new ways to ensure communication, accessibility and inclusion balanced with a focus on protecting time and space for the substantive curriculum agenda items discussion.

The provision of an updates paper would be trialled, rather than verbal updates, with screen sharing at the meeting to cover the updates. Queries and comments would be welcomed and followed up as part of the notes of the discussion. Where issues raised were owned and led by other workstream areas they would be directed there for response.

Slides covering the following were presented:

  • the Children and Young People’s Group
  • the development of teacher resources on enslavement and children’s voices
  • update on SQA work to review the content of their history qualifications 
  • brief updates on the work of the other workstreams
  • follow up on the Good Practice Paper on developing Antiracist curricula in Scotland’s schools
  • the Curriculum Framework Review and Design Group

Members intimated support for the approach and questions and comments were raised in relation to:

  • the importance of meaningful engagement with the Children and Young People’s Groups and how to create opportunities to centre their views and position such as Chairing one of our future meetings
  • the Curriculum Framework activity engaging with local authorities at the earliest

Pavi has been invited to provide an outline of her comments and how she’d like them reflected in the minutes.

Action: to update and finalise minutes of meeting 5 in consultation with Pavi.

Curriculum reform - emerging recommendations and priorities

Khadija introduced the recommendations and priorities session and advised that in-depth discussion would shortly tale place in online break-out rooms.

Small group discussions were to focus on recommendations so far, ensuring that members are content with them and can add detail to how they want to progress, identifying priorities for action, the organisations to be involved, what needs further scoping and/or funding to deliver. 

Many thanks to Titi, Sadia, Theo and Nuzhat for taking on the facilitation role in the small group discussions. The notes from discussions provided by facilitators are noted in the document below.

Khadija thanked all for their contributions and advised that comments by email would continue to be welcomed. The next steps were for the Chairs and Secretariat to bring together comments and discussions with a focus on refining the key priorities for the coming months and the associated actions for the SubGroup and others. This would be shared at the next meeting for discussion.

Planning for next meeting

Jovan advised that meeting six would focus on:

  • developing recommendations and actions
  • working with the Children and Young People Group
  • Curriculum Framework Review and Design Group

Any other business or reflections and close

There would be issues to be progressed by email over the period regarding the further development of our SubGroup recommendations. Members were asked to continue to send contacts for participation in the antiracism curriculum work that Hakim is leading.

Annex A - Group feedback

Acknowledgement of the mammoth nature of the task at hand, as well as expressing satisfaction at the depth of the work done so far. 

Overarching principles

The group agreed that the meaningful engagement with those who have the lived experience (Black People, People of Colour, and people with racialised identity-particularly children) was the right way to go. The watchword we all agreed was engaging ‘meaningfully’, because this would necessitate an engagement that is fit for purpose; one that brings on-board the voices of and relates to the experiences of Black People, People of Colour, and people with racialised identity. We agreed that this engagement should understand the importance of listening to Black People, People of Colour, and people with racialised identity living in marginalised white spaces. 

Although the group did not have any problem accessing the language of the document, we thought the second paragraph could be expressed in a language that is more accessible. We agreed that making sure the spirit or culture of the work permeates the curriculum framework, with a recommendation that a shared structure would facilitate a sustainable achievement of this principle.  

We agreed that we should not lose track of the danger posed by interconnections of race, class, gender, and disability, how aspects of our social and political identities play a role in creating different modes of discrimination. We thought that there would be Black People, People of Colour, and people with racialised identity who are discriminated against because of their gender, sex, religion, disability, weight, and other seeming factors. 

We thought the summary captured the essence of previous discussions and principles in a strong and responsive way.

Recommendation headings

There was a consensus that the headings all work, but bullet point three (Focus on Qualifications and Senior Phase) somewhat limits the ‘bottoms-up’ approach at first glance. Should we not start from our bairns? We agreed that there was a lot to do in terms of qualifications and senior phase education, but same focus and attention should be directed at early years. Education of children is as important, and we do not want to risk destroying the possibilities for the next generation. More salient just now when young people are making themselves heard on the big global issues that matter to them, with antiracism top of the list.  

There was a recommendation regarding bullet-points one and four. Should we add the process of implementation to bullet-point one? And for four, we talked about the need to broaden the avenues employed in promoting the work of the group, communicating, and engaging with stakeholders.

A review and reform of the curriculum framework

Necessary and massive work and what would help is learning from how other equality issues have been and are being dealt with. We’ll learn a lot from good practice but should not lose focus on the fact that our work is addressing a special situation. 

The group commented on the ‘development and curation of high-quality resources and support of anti-racist learning across the curriculum’. This should be tailored to meet the needs of settings, learners and teachers to avoid falling into the box-ticking remit/becoming a box ticking exercise. A member of the group pointed out the problems small departments might face regarding who will do the work. We concluded that sharing good practice and an existing ‘one stop shop’ for quality and fit for purpose resources, advice, guidance and professional learning would help with this. Professional learning is important because of the reluctance of some teachers to teach issues like racism.  

There was a mention of how vital subject specific structures/frames can help teachers from reinventing the wheel. 

We talked about the curriculum framework should have a somewhat mandatory push to make sure teachers and educators give attention to anti-racism E’s & O’s.

Remaining recommendations for discussion

Paragraph three should explicitly include and relate to teachers (revamping teacher training resources and introducing anti-racist pedagogy as part of teacher education is extremely important here) and learners, as they will need the support to embed an anti-racist ethos and environment. We want learners to hear their voices and relate to their experiences when they are learning, so weaving anti-racism into the culture of settings is the right way to go. 

We thought it would make for good quality control or should I say evaluation and monitoring, to make sure things are done the right way. It is why we thought paragraphs three and four were linked, with 3 necessitating 4. The role of the National Anti-Racist Curriculum Champion (s) is imperative, but we should be conscious of what format this is going to take. This is because if the leadership in a setting were not fit for purpose, the work of a Champion would be of no use. There were suggestions of having an anti-racist education branch of HMIe maybe? One that is tasked with inspecting and reporting on how far race equality and anti-racism has been embedded in schools.  

Overarching principles

1. Statement required addressed the requirement for this learning will tackle institutional and systematic racism. We have to address that this learning should have an impact beyond school. 
2. ‘qualifications and senior phase’ we tend to think about Nat5/Higher/AH. What about early senior school and all the learning prior to this. There needs to be a journey that can be followed through all levels of education.
Suggested heading ‘Role of curriculum reformers’ instead of ‘Qualifications and Senior Phase’
Possible point required about transition from secondary phase into post school e.g. life long learning. Possible space for an additional heading here ‘Transition and Lifelong Learning.’
3. no clear guidance on what we mean by ‘early years’. Different organisations use different age brackets, what are we referring to?
Recommendations are not worded as recommendations : the wording here needs to be looked at.
Remove references to LGBT and replace with a more general statements eg consistent with other equality issues. 
Instead of ‘review and reform framework’ consider ‘review and redefining curriculum. 
People who should be involved: include all black people and PoC communities. Possible room to include a reference to compensation for people involved.
Remove reference to LGBT approach. An opportunity to include a reference to an intersectional approach. Be careful about wording so that anti-racist message does not become diluted. 
4. ‘home educators’ has just been dropped in. Some more careful consideration needs to be made to ensure a more meaningful approach. 
Remove LGBT reference here.
Think carefully about parental engagement. Are we talking about parent councils who are not necessarily representative or parents who can come into school and share lived experiences? Define parental engagement. 
Statement about communicating our successes: how do we do that?

Ensuring the inclusion of a decolonial mindset and lens to the structure of the curriculum and experiences offered to cyp throughout their educational journey.  Decolonising will refer to not just included perspectives of colonised communities but also applying a critical lens to global power structures.

Clear guidance needed to address following action points:

  • inspectors must become racially literate
  • inspections must focus on antiracist practice
  • guidance must be given to schools who fall short in this area
  • HGIOS needs challenge questions in regards to meeting antiracist educational aims
  • (Curr sub group can look to start building recommendations for these points)

Accreditation towards becoming an antiracist school: curriculum, experiences offered to cyp, health and wellbeing impacts. Accreditation needs to be sustained actions over short, medium, long term.

Question communication officer role – remit, purpose, whether it’s covered in other approaches

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