Curriculum Reform Subgroup - minutes: November 2021

Minutes from the group's meeting on 18 November 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Khadija Mohammed, Chair, University West of Scotland
  • Jovan Rao Rydder, Deputy Chair, Intercultural Youth Scotland
  • Carol Young, Deputy Director, CRER 
  • Munibah Ghani, Biology Teacher, Holyrood Secondary 
  • Crisantos Ike, MSYP, Rutherglen
  • Hakim Din, Education and race consultant
  • Sadia Hussain-Savuk, Biology Teacher, Dollar Academy
  • Asif Chishti, EIS
  • Katie Hunter, History Teacher, St Thomas of Aquin’s High 
  • Pavithra Sarma, Anti-racism consultant and Co-founder, Scottish Anti-Racism Education 
  • Theo Ogbhemhe, RME teacher, Kirkwall Grammar School
  • Peter McNaughton, Association of Directors of Education 
  • Michael Roach, Head of Education, Inverclyde Council
  • Annette Foulcer, Scottish Qualifications Authority
  • Nahid Aslam, NASUWT
  • Barrie Sheppard, NPFS
  • Sara Medel Jiménez, STUC Black Workers Committee + Spanish Teacher 
  • Denise Dunlop, Scottish Qualifications Authority

MSYP support

  • Rosy Burgess, Scottish Youth Parliament 

Scottish Government Learning Directorate

  • Zarina Naseem, Curriculum Unit
  • Laura Ross, Curriculum Unit – Lead Secretariat
  • Stuart Downes, Support and Wellbeing

Education Scotland

  • Lynne Robertson, Social Studies Curriculum Senior Education Officer
  • Mélina Valdelièvre, Professional Learning and Leadership (+    Anti-Racist Educator)
  • Jacqui Nimmo, Inclusion, Wellbeing and Equalities Senior Education Officer
  • Amy Johnson, Improving Gender Balance and Equalities

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

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

Apologies were received from Frank Thomson, Fiona Nicholson, Nuzhat Uthmani, Lewis Hou, Titi Farukuoye, Victory Ekpekurede, Daniella Faakor Damptey, Matthew Sweeney and Jim Metcalfe.

Additional guests were Nahid Aslam from NASUWT, Barrie Sheppard from National Parent Forum Scotland and Amy Johnson from Education Scotland.

This meeting was to focus on the second priority for the subgroup – the curriculum resources that are required to underpin and support the vision. What exists already, where are the gaps, how can we ensure quality and authentic anti-racism in resources, and what are our priorities for creating new resources. 

Minutes from last meeting and updates on actions

Jovan thanked the young people on the Group and the Scottish Youth Parliament for their assistance in focusing the papers and keeping them as accessible as possible. Members were encouraged to keep sending suggestions to enhance clarity and accessibility.

Previous actions and updates were set out:

  • update the vision with further comments received
    With thanks to Crisantos for his comments the vision has been developed to properly capture that the school curriculum include the contributions and influence of Black people and people with a racialised identity over time and in the present.
    With thanks to Pavi we have amended the vision to use ‘enslavement’ rather than ‘slave trade’.
  • feedback re comment on Young People’s Group
    With thanks to Crisantos for raising the potentially negative associations of the word ‘shadow’, the Group will be known as the Children and Young People’s Group until they are established and can agree their own name. 
    The Scottish Government have received a number of applications for the role of establishing and supporting the Children and Young People Group. An update will be provided as soon as possible.
  • the recording link for the Scottish Learning Festival session on Education Scotland’s resource for educators was shared with members
  • Secretariat to follow up on Review and Design Group on the Curriculum Framework
    Jovan advised that this is in the process of being finalised and is taking longer than anticipated to ensure that the Group is small and focused enough and has the right mix of skills and experience. The Group will be updated by email on emerging plans with the intention that the Group should be established and ready to start work in January 2022.
    An additional action point has been created in response to points raised at meetings one and two that the development of a Good (and other) Practice Paper identifying activity in Scotland (and the wider UK) would be a very useful resource for the subgroup and of considerable interest to others. The Secretariat will be in touch to seek your assistance in shaping a scoping paper to set out what that should cover.

Follow up on the Children and Young People Group tender process
Follow up on the development of a Snapshot/Good Practice Paper on Race Equality and Anti-Racism in Scotland’s schools

Update from Mélina 

Mélina provided short updates on actions and activities emerging from the other three workstreams and provided a particular focus on the Building Racial Literacy pilot that had already been shared with members for awareness prior to the meeting.

A number of queries were raised and discussion was condensed due to time pressures. Further information will be provided to address the points raised.

Curriculum resources

Khadija set out the purpose of the discussion and the papers. Paper 3.2 outlined the background, why resources matter and what has been said by subgroup members so far on the subject. It also highlights that resources alone will not drive change but they are a key factor within the wider ambition and can underpin and support leadership, professional learning, racial literacy and curriculum framework reform.

Paper 3.3 contains a series of resources that have been identified that seek to support learning and teaching on race equality and anti-racism in the curriculum. Thanks were noted to Education Scotland and to members that contributed resources to be added to the paper.

Short inputs were provided to members with insights on what we do know about school curriculum resources on race equality and anti-racism:

  • Carol Young from CRER provided an outline of a review of race equality and anti-racism resources on the Education Scotland National Improvement Hub in 2017 undertaken in partnership by CRER, BEMIS and Education Scotland
  • Katie Hunter, a history teacher in Edinburgh, provided a summary on recent research from the Historical Association regarding Black history teaching in Scottish schools
  • Amy Johnson from Education Scotland shared the recent launch of their website which aims to establish a one-stop-shop for practitioners that will support the Race Equality and Anti-Racism in Education Programme

In discussion, the following points were made:

  • the importance of genuine and representative diversity in the workforce alongside curriculum reform, resources and professional learning. It was also noted that change needs to happen now and for all educators, we can’t wait for workforce diversity
  • other key drivers of resources eg opportunities exist in the National 5 history course covering the Transatlantic Slave Trade to broaden out the content and the associated learning and teaching

Breakout group discussions

In four breakout groups members considered the following questions:

  • can we identify immediate gaps and priorities in available resources?
  • what should the role of the Group in relation to resource creation be?
  • what should the role of the Group in terms of making sure resources are of a high quality (quality assurance) be? 
  • how can we use the funding and expertise that we have to address gaps and opportunities?

A full report on discussions is attached as an annex. Key issues and potential actions are as follows:

  • clear that there are gaps in resources that should be addressed
  • while it’s important that resources are curriculum-wide there are more developed opportunities for race equality and anti-racism learning and teaching in social studies and personal and social education and high quality and accessible resources should be available
  • a role for the subgroup in creating a framework or criteria in relation to quality assurance of resources (existing and new)
  • the importance of ensuring that young people were part of the process was highlighted
  • a desire to know from local authorities what is being used in schools to currently support race equality and anti-racism curriculum design and delivery
  • funding suggestions and support for external input and expertise in developing new material as well as a proposed structure for bringing together skills to create new resources
  • engagement with communities and educators
  • explore options such as podcasts and communities of practice as spaces to share and innovate
  • how we progress this needs to be underpinned by our principles of anti-racism as a driver, the centring of young People of Colour and meaningful community engagement


This discussion related to paper 3.4 which proposes a social media (Twitter) account be established and managed by the subgroup secretariat to promote the work of the subgroup and create a platform for raising the profile, sharing practice and activity and advising of opportunities to engage.

Jovan advised members of plans to share for consideration and refinement with the Children and Young People Group once established and a hope that they will influence and lead the next steps in the future. It was commented that this would be a good way to communicate and could support the transparency of what’s going on. The potential risks attached and the importance of a focus on security and safeguarding from abuse were highlighted.

Action – Secretariat to further develop with a view to submitting to the Children and Young People’s Group for discussion and development.

Planning for next meeting

Jovan reminded subgroup members that early planning had identified the next meeting - meeting four - as the forum to look at the senior phase, including SQA and careers advice. It was proposed that, assuming that the Children and Young People Group is in place for January 2022, that we refocus this meeting to how we should work together and hear from the Children and Young People Group what their emerging plans are. It was noted that in identifying our priorities for working with the Group it would act as a useful stocktake and summary of emerging actions and priorities.

Members were content with this plan and that the senior phase discussion would be moved to the February meeting.

Any other business or reflections and close

Members were thanked for their contributions to the discussions.

The next meeting is scheduled for 13 January 2022 and Khadija advised that there would be issues to be progressed by email over the period regarding the Curriculum Framework Group and the creation of a Good Practice Report.

Members were informed that that it was Zarina’s last subgroup meeting (due to chance of post in Scottish Government) and asked to note that Hazel Bartels, Head of the Curriculum Unit, will take on an increased role in this work over the coming months. Zarina was thanked for her contribution to the work of the subgroup.

Annex A - Breakout room discussions


  1. Can we identify immediate gaps and priorities in available resources?
  2. What should the role of the Group in relation to resource creation be?
  3. What should the role of the Group in terms of making sure resources are of a high quality (quality assurance) be? 
  4. How can we use the funding and expertise that we have to address gaps and opportunities?

Group 1 - led by Pavi (notes taken by Zarina and refined by Pavi)

Participants: Pavi Atul Sarma, Munibah Ghani, Nahid Aslam, Denise Dunlop, Carol Young, Zarina Naseem

The group discussed some of the challenges around existing resources which are often very ‘Euro-centric’ with a British focus and a ‘white gaze’. Many resources explaining global issues such as the conflicts taking place in the Middle East and Africa do not provide enough historical context, leaving pupils with the impression that leaders of the global south are corrupt and ignoring the role of the west in creating corrupt leadership. Concerns were raised around resources in class not being empowering and not privileging the leadership of the global South. Quick wins could be achieved by finding ways to acknowledge the contribution of diverse groups to different disciplines – there is often a focus on the contributions of white men, ignoring the achievements and contributions made by other groups, specifically people and communities of colour. 

More generally, the need to quality assure the resources currently available before identifying gaps was raised so that we fully understand where practitioners are lacking quality resources. The need to focus on quality and accessible material was reinforced by reference to teaching of the Holocaust which has improved greatly over the years through the development of quality resources and related professional learning. The question of what constituted accessible material was raised with the suggestion that it needed to be broadened.

The group also discussed the importance of engagement with wider communities, including home educators who also have an important role in developing the curriculum. Specific reference was made to the example of the history of British Bengali citizens, who moved to the UK after Indian independence and exploitation of resources during colonial rule. In the UK they were denied housing, subjected to redlining and ended up squatting in unoccupied houses emulating their neighbours as a form of resistance to the systemic racism meted out. The video on Scottish Anti-Racism Education highlights intersectional oppressions and resistance by the British Bengali community. These stories combine the umbrella of racism which encapsulate poverty, inequity, inequality, housing, immigration, political Blackness, redlining, etc... The video for educators and young people supports discussion on empathy, British history, racism and acts of resistance. Why did people come over here? London's forgotten Bangladeshi squatters | In 1970s East London, hundreds of Bangladeshi squatters took over empty properties, demanding better housing options and an end to racist attacks...

It was pointed out that there is a risk of resources not being used if they aren’t accessible for teachers. It was suggested that the Curriculum Reform SubGroup should argue for funding so that teachers could access professional support (which might include support from antiracist activists and academics) to develop, quality assure, and evaluate resources.

It was suggested that the SubGroup might have a role in setting the framework within which resources could be developed, including guidance on terminology etc. (or indeed how to engage in conversations to understand what terminology individuals wish to have used) which might support practitioner confidence. Concerns were raised around forcing people to implement resources that would be developed here. It was also raised whether the remit of this SubGroup should be to actually develop these resources or this should be done in conjunction with anti-racist organisations, grassroots networks, community engagement facilitators, etc.

The limitations of the SubGroup’s capacity were noted, with certain members of colour giving their time and expertise for free. 
It was pointed out that we won’t have race equality until we have equal opportunities for people of colour (racial equity). We need to have more opportunities at higher levels within the public sector. We also need to acknowledge the context in which the curriculum operates, with young people being exposed to racist structures outside of school. 

Group 2 - led by Rosy

Participants: Theo Ogbhemhe, Nuzhat Uthmani, Jacqui Nimmo, Peter McNaughton, Hakim Din and Crisantos Ike.

Can we identify immediate gaps and priorities in available resources?

  • resources are important, but human resource are also very important (adults & children / young people)
    • the people in the room are most important to understand what is available and how it is used – it is important to have conversations with children, young people, and educators to find out what is currently being used, and what the impacts of the current learning are 
    • it was acknowledged that the process for identifying gaps may be complex – it is important to prioritise the gaps through discussion with educators / CYP
  • ask Local Authorities to help identifying current resources / gaps
    • for example, it was suggested that each Local Authority could ask their schools to each provide details of one lesson they use to promote anti-racism (and other topics related to the REAREP work). LAs could help collate these as examples of good practice, which could then be reviewed by the stakeholder group / relevant subgroup(s)
  • the discussion paper shows some subject areas are very resource-light
    • a strategy would be helpful to plan how these gaps will be filled
    • focus on subject areas which are really light in resources – reach out to colleagues to fill these gaps through teachers
  • some members of the group like the new Education Scotland, but not many people know it’s there
    • it can be beneficial to have one place to find resources, but more communication about the site may be needed
    • what is the role of children and young people in this work? – it was suggested the CYP group could help Education Scotland to help to identify and create resources

What should the role of the Group in relation to resource creation be? / What should the role of the Group in terms of making sure resources are of a high quality (quality assurance) be? 

  • resources need to be current / relevant for children and young people today:
    • one young person highlighted that in their PSE lessons they are shown videos which were made 10-15 years ago, and lots of the issues (or the way the issues are communicated) are not relevant for young people’s lives today
    • PSE lessons could be used more for teaching about anti-racism – often only focus on one issue, but need more current affairs focus, more space needed
    • it was also highlighted that lots of young people haven’t had PSE lessons at high school, particularly during the pandemic, so there is concern that if the focus of anti-racist education initiatives is on PSE, there is a risk some young people won’t receive this
  • the group could be involved in reviewing or outlining criteria for resource creation 
    • in addition to resource content being current / relevant to young people’s lives, potential triggers should be highlighted in all new resources, with guidance or support for educators to ensure they are able to support all learners to participate in anti-racist education effectively
    • it would be beneficial for educators if there was a resource with a video clip / ‘review’ of how each resource was used in a real life situation
  • the group could explore how technology works/ is used, and how this could be used as part of the curriculum reform work
  • it was suggested in the introduction that teachers like to make their own resources – the group challenged this during the discussion. It was noted that teachers have worked hard to keep the system afloat during the pandemic - if there are high quality resources, presumably teachers would be happy to use them?

How can we use the funding and expertise that we have to address gaps and opportunities?

  • suggestions included:
    • audible e-books – turn everything into something people can listen to to save them having to read
    • put money to quality assuring resources in areas that are light on current resources
    • link into PSE review - Could CYP create a resource that could be used in PSE? (teachers delivering would need the professional learning to make sure this is in place) – it was suggested that Education Scotland may be able to help with this
    • something for CYP group - get input from them to make sure resources relevant (possibly role for them in helping to create some of the resources?)

Other areas of discussion:

  • there was a lot of praise for current activities in primary schools, and learning that could be gained from these activities:
    • eg, during the BLM protests, P4/5 classes took time to research and do projects around anti-racism
    • primary schools have equality ambassadors but not so much in high schools
    • young people noted that primary schools seem to pick up on current issues quicker and discuss in class – eg, one young person noted that their younger sibling had been having conversations about anti-racism and black history in their primary school classes, whereas they haven’t had any similar conversations / lessons in high school
    • it was noted that high schools have more responsibilities to help students prepare for national qualifications, but that this should never be an excuse not to deliver anti-racist education 
  • primary schools are really important because that’s where children start to learn:
    • young people shared experiences of their younger siblings experiencing racism, and highlighted that it is important to teach anti-racism from a young age
    • however, it was also noted that many primary school teachers aren’t comfortable dealing with difficult or ‘controversial’ issues; racially illiterate teachers

Group 3 - led by Jovan

Participants: Jovan Rao-Rydder, Hazel Bartels, Lynne Robertson, Sara Medel Jiménez, Barrie Sheppard, Mélina Valdelièvre.

Can we identify immediate gaps and priorities in available resources?

Modern languages is a likely area of gaps.
Translation a key issue for accessibility resources – in a wide variety of languages, and for Gaelic schools.
Given the focus on history, really important to link the history of racism, empire and slavery to its current-day effects on health, class, power, etc. 

What should the role of the Group in relation to resource creation be? 

The group could specify the scope of work of teacher and grassroots resource development, in order to avoid the double-work of rewriting existing material.
Discussion focused on creating spaces and opportunities for resource development – detailed further in question 4.

What should the role of the Group in terms of making sure resources are of a high quality (quality assurance) be?

We should develop a set of standards to support grassroots development of materials: such as who should be involved, how to test, how much to test, who to pass it with. In relation to Community Forum idea, community involvement is an important part of quality assurance, by bringing learners and parents into the resource development process.

How can we use the funding and expertise that we have to address gaps and opportunities?

Three ideas were floated, with discussion particularly focusing on/returning to the Community Forum:

  • incentive system: in developing such resources, the issue is often not interest, but time. We could set up a system to incentivise teachers’ development of resources
  • community forum: an important role of the subgroup is creating the space for resource development
    • maybe a team of teachers and students
    • could be like a residential – currently University of Edinburgh & University of Glasgow have such a residential for teachers
    • important to bring parents into this as well – collaborate with both learners and parents
    • altogether: community forums particularly including teachers, learners and parents
    • would be good to start with a national forum of this sort, with key actors and focusing on key resources, to profile the process and set the example
  • setting up a podcast could be good for inspiring teachers to resource development, and to communicate about the process
    • the building racial literacy programme should develop networks of practice – this could be a space for starting a podcast

Examples of good practice highlighted in resource development

Who Am I Humari Pehchan Project | SAMEE

Preserving Family History: An Act of Resistance (Learning Resource) (

Group 4 - led by Asif

Participants: Asif Chishti, Khadija Mohammed, Katie Hunter, Sadia Hussain, Stuart Downes, Laura Ross, Annette Foulcer, Michael Roach.

Can we identify immediate gaps and priorities in available resources?

There are some gaps in particular curricular areas (e.g. Modern Languages and Science). Important that there is coverage across Early years, primary, secondary (across subject areas and NOT just history). 

Any gaps are largely to do with who is creating the resources. Who’s creating? Who’s collating? What and who’s understanding is shaping that?

There may well be more resources out there that practitioners have but are reluctant to share (could this be because the fear of being criticised or condemned by professional peers (like us!?) Probably workload is a driver also. Additionally the expectation that resources are developed and shared for free is sensitive. Issues of incentives, copyright and safe environments to share. Keep coming back to issues of teachers’ nervousness in this area.

What should the role of the Group in relation to resource creation be? 

Role of SubGroup should be to ensure that People of Colour are involved and centred. But clear challenges inherent in this – for example there are (as far as we are aware) no history teachers of colour in Scotland.

Importance of local discussions and queries about resources being regarded as progress and not an accusation. Teachers of Colour are not speaking up as they don’t want the spotlight and may have been undermined in the past. Needs to be about senior managers and the culture of the school, not one individual leading. All teachers need to see their leadership role here, not assume that leadership means PTs and HTs.

We have our young people telling us and now we need senior leader buy-in - almost a bottom-up and top-down approach. 

Useful to consider the approach re LGBT here.

Can we ask LAs what is happening in their curriculums?

EiS are keen clear that this needs to be cross-curricular and not just about history.

Who delivers this? we can’t wait for more teachers of colour to be able to do so. Current teachers must be confident and skilled. There is a sense of enhanced interest in schools over the past two years. Rowena Arshad’s role in the Excellence in Headship programme could be part of this.

What should the role of the Group in terms of making sure resources are of a high quality (quality assurance) be?

Quality assurance should reflect lived experience. Educators, anti-racism, experience of the education system, young people, community, family.
Part of quality assurance should be support in identifying and addressing insensitive resources/delivery and the impact of this.
Consequences of poor resources - textbooks with mistakes – schools are stuck with them for years
Difficult to envisage a firm role in QA – is it even manageable for the SubGroup?
Quality assurance requires a group approach and a group agreement. We can't afford slip ups if we want the messages to be interpreted correctly.
Quality assurance must involve the views of young people.
Can we create a self-reflection audit to accompany resources to introduce key reflective questions, such as, does your resource include a range of voices and perspectives?

How can we use the funding and expertise that we have to address gaps and opportunities?

Funding could be used to bring in consultants and expertise to create new resources. Perhaps to address gaps in, for example, Early Years and science.
Important to include independent schools.

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