Curriculum reform subgroup minutes: November 2023

Minutes from the Curriculum reform subgroup's meeting on 20 November 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Mélina Valdelièvre, Senior Education Officer for Equalities, Education Scotland (Chair)
  • Carol Young, Deputy Director, Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER)
  • Mark Chan, MSYP for Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley
  • Hakim Din, Education and Race Consultant
  • Sara Medel Jiménez, NASUWT, STUC Black Workers Committee and Spanish teacher
  • Katie Hunter, history teacher, St Thomas of Aquin’s High School
  • Michael Roach, Head of Education, Inverclyde Council
  • Monica Medina, Race Equality and Anti-Racism, Scottish Qualifications Authority 
  • Saskia Kearns, Head of Curriculum Development, Scottish Government
  • Heather Tibbetts, Curriculum Development, Scottish Government
  • Laura Ross (Workstream Lead), Curriculum Unit, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Mélina welcomed all in attendance and noted apologies from Lewis, Sara, Theo, Iain, Frank, Carrie, Suzy, Lynne, Laura-Ann, Graeme and Jovan. A note of those in attendance is in the Annex. The purpose of the meeting would be to progress some key areas of business as well the usual opportunity for updates, discussion and reflection. It was noted that the meeting was shorter than usual to reflect a shorter agenda and this may become typical when we start meeting every six weeks. 

Minutes from last meeting and updates on actions

Members were referred to the pre-circulated paper.

The actions from the previous meeting were:

  • Katie query on whether Historical Association data could go on the Education Scotland Glow website. This remains outstanding and Katie is in touch with Education Scotland, Scottish Government and Scottish Qualifications Authority colleagues
  • actions grid to be updated to reflect a range of points and discussion. This has happened and was shared with members. We will return to it periodically as agreed to monitor progress and add updates


Laura provided the following updates from the Scottish Government:

  • the School Library Improvement Fund have identified successful award recipients with over £160k of the £200k awards going to projects and activity associated with anti-racism. A summary paper will be issued for interest and awareness
  • the new anti-racism resources underway on early years and health and wellbeing, led by the East and West Development Education Centres, are progressing well and will be the subject of substantive discussion at the following meeting. In the meantime a paper summarising plans and output will be circulated for interest
  • the Education Bill consultation is live with a deadline of 18 December. A subgroup and programme-wide response will be developed with an opportunity for individuals and organisations to collaborate. Laura will follow up with a proposal for comment
  • discussion has been initiated with the Children’s Parliament on the creation of a version of the anti-racism curriculum principles by and for children and young people. Further details and an opportunity to participate in the plans will follow

Group members responded enthusiastically to the developments, particularly those based on direct support for children and young people. The question of how we share all this was posed to ensure awareness and opportunity to learn and engage. Mélina and Laura to follow up with Programme Board colleagues.

SQA Update


Monica provided an update on behalf of Iain in relation to the work underway on social studies qualifications content: The review of language used in the Course Specifications and supporting documents in NAtional Qualification (NQ) social subjects is ongoing. This is currently with subject implementation managers and will be sent to SQA editors in the coming weeks. Once edited, documents will be shared with the Research and Policy Manager – Anti-Racist Education. A summary will then be provided to the subgroup for comment. All documents will be published in accordance with SQA’s NQ publication schedule in time for implementation in 2024-25.

The general update was welcomed but more detail was requested in the context of the pressing need for change both in migration and empire and transatlantic slavery content. The expertise within the Teaching Slavery in Scotland Programme and the migration and empire research underway at the University of Edinburgh was highlighted as the ideal way to bring a depth of expertise and credibility to the process.

Hakim enquired about whether SQA had any plans to use their exam data to audit activity, interest and engagement relating to content on anti-racism. 

It was noted that a further update from the SQA and an opportunity for discussion would be a substantive agenda item at the January meeting.

Anti-racism in education summit - curriculum related committment

Members were referred to the pre-circulated paper which set the wider context of the activity, led by the AREP Board, in preparation for the summit.

The subgroup were asked to propose wording for the curriculum-focused commitment of the wider summit approach. The commitments seek to capture the component parts and the collective actions and ambitions of the workstreams and the wider programme. Our anti-racist curriculum principles form a significant proportion of the framework and much of the language in the commitments identified across the programme.

The commitments will be put to senior education leaders invited to the summit with the intention that agreements are made to include and embed in local authority (LA) and other planning and implementation.

There is not yet a confirmed date and we will update asap. All subgroup members and a number of individuals that support the curriculum work are on the invitation list. As noted on the paper, this remains a work-in-progress, led by the programme board, and should be regarded as confidential for now.

Members discussed a suggested draft based on the anti-racist curriculum principles for children and young people. Suggestions were made about reordering the paragraphs, adding anti-racism explicitly and refocusing to set out a broader expectation that the anti-racism curriculum principles be implemented with the publication of local action plans by all LAs and others. These options will be set out in an email to all members for views.

Small grants fund

Members were referred to the pre-circulated paper which provides an update on the previous small grants fund and key learning points which have helped shape plans for this next round. The paper included proposals for this academic year for subgroup discussion and refinement.

Laura outlined the position with funding identified for a fund of up to £20k for this academic year with similar aims to last year and a focus on established children and young people anti-racism and equalities groups. Learning from the last round has recognised a need to include a role for an adult to lead on the financial and reporting aspect of the process in particular. It was highlighted that culture days had formed the majority of the activity in relation to bids for the first Fund but that a longer consideration period and sharing other activity for inspiration may help to enhance the range of activity. Members expressed support for the positive impact of school culture days but caution was also raised about the potential for tokensim and the importance of clarity on legacy and associated follow-up action and change.

Plans would proceed with an update to members at the January meeting. Laura would follow up with Carol regarding support in honing criteria and with member of the Scottish Youth Parliament and Intercultural Youth Scotland colleagues regarding their role in the assessment and allocation process. 

Reflections, agenda for next meeting and close

The next meeting is planned for 3.45-5.30pm on 31 January 2024. The secretariat to send out a meeting request for this.

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