Scottish history curriculum and teaching of Black history: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

I’d like to know what Scottish History Curriculum is being taught in the School System (Primary and Secondary Level in Scotland)?

Specifically what is being taught on the British Empire and also Scotland/UK’s role in Enslaving thousands of people into Plantations across the Caribbean/Mauritius etc.


The curriculum in Scotland is a flexible one as we believe it is best for schools and teachers to design and deliver a curriculum that meets the needs of their learners in their communities. We provide curriculum guidelines, through the Experiences and Outcomes and Benchmarks contained in Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) documentation. As such we do not hold detailed information about what is being taught in schools in Scotland.

While Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) is not prescriptive, so that learning can be tailored to the individual needs of learners, there are mechanisms in place to help to ensure that crucial issues such as race equality are routinely covered in the curriculum in schools across Scotland.

The curriculum in Scotland aims to help young people develop into successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens. A key feature of the learning in Scottish schools is therefore that young people learn about current and past attitudes, values and events and their impact on society today which helps them to develop as modern global citizens.

The Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) provides a positive context for schools to incorporate these issues into their curriculum and into the wider ethos and life of the school. CfE is underpinned by the values of wisdom, justice, compassion, integrity and respect for human rights, and global citizenship is a theme across all learning and the life of a school.

The Deputy First Minister has published a statement on these issues and this can be found at:

Under CfE, all practitioners are directed to design educational experiences that are relevant to their learners. As part of this process, we would expect that practitioners are identifying and covering high profile issues likely to have an impact on the lives of young people. The Black Lives Matter movement, and Black history more generally, fall firmly into that category.

To better support schools in making diverse choices about how they approach the curriculum, Education Scotland officials are working to exemplify how race equality can be addressed through whole school approaches. This will build and champion diversity throughout all aspects of the school ethos, as well as across all curricular areas. An external reference group, including Black and Ethnic Minority Infrastructure in Scotland (BEMIS) and Coalition For Racial Equality And Rights (CRER), are informing the work. In addition, a race equality in education resource for practitioners is out for consultation, with the complementary mapping work to follow.

Education Scotland have produced a quick reference guide to key resources for practitioners called a ‘Wakelet’ to help them address race equality throughout the curriculum and through whole school approaches These resources can be found here:

Within schools, these issues are often addressed through the social studies area of the curriculum. You can find out more about what is covered in this part of the curriculum in schools through the social studies Experiences and Outcomes and benchmarks which can be found here;

As part of their wider work on race equality outlined above, Education Scotland has reviewed the social studies Experiences and Outcomes and benchmarks. They confirm that the social studies part of the curriculum in schools provides opportunities for teaching and learning about Black history and about race equality in Scotland today. To highlight these opportunities, they have developed a further Wakelet to support practioners to lead investigations into Scotland’s Black history and Minority Ethnic heritage culture as well as the slave trade and Scotland’s role in it in the classroom. Further resources will be included within this resource as they are developed and identified. These resources will help teachers to plan and provide Black history in schools in ways that reflect their learners’ needs and
local contexts while giving teachers the confidence and skills to engage in meaningful discussions around race.

The resources can be accessed at:

Education Scotland have also produced resources relating to Scotland’s role in slavery and I have attached the link below to this:

We are currently meeting with relevant stakeholders to investigate where there may be opportunities, within the curriculum or within schools, for further activity that can be undertaken to help our young people understand Scotland’s Black history and how that history impacts our society today. Following this engagement, The Deputy First Minister plans to meet with key stakeholders to identify what additional steps might be taken to achieve this. I attach the discussion paper that is being considered in these meetings.

I hope this provides reassurance that we are working to ensure issues around social inequality, racism and Black history are properly addressed within the curriculum and wider school life, so that the diversity of our society is recognised and reflected within our education system overall.

About FOI

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FOI 202000098366 - Information released


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