Race equality framework for Scotland 2016 to 2030

This framework sets out our approach to promoting race equality and tackling racism and inequality between 2016 and 2030.

4. Education and Lifelong Learning

Our Vision for 2030:

Everyone has the opportunity to learn in an inclusive environment without disadvantage in relation to racial inequality or racism.

Our ambition is to make Scotland the best place to grow up and to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to learn in an inclusive environment which supports race equality. The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that children's rights as underpinned by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child ( UNCRC) are at the heart of this Framework.

The National Improvement Framework for Education demonstrates that excellence and equity in education are key to realising positive outcomes for all children in Scotland. A recent report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ( OECD) [13] highlighted that such Scottish educational initiatives as Curriculum for Excellence and Getting it Right for Every Child support an inclusive education system, and we will continue striving to support innovative and effective practice.

Ensuring that minority ethnic children and young people are able to realise their potential with equity and equality was a high priority for the stakeholders involved in our Community Ambassadors' Project and Strategic Action Forums. A renewed focus on supporting learning environments, relationships and curricular content that challenge racial inequality and racism is essential if minority ethnic students are to have a positive early learning and childcare, school and further and higher education experience, without disadvantage.

Curriculum for Excellence, the curriculum for Scottish schools, aims to provide the right context to enable children and young people to develop as informed and responsible global citizens with a knowledge of Scotland and its place in the world and an understanding of a wide range of beliefs and cultures. Racism can be addressed across the curriculum - for example in expressive arts, health and wellbeing, literacy and English, religious and moral education and social studies.

Figure 8: School attainment 2013-14 [14]

Figure 8: School attainment 2013-14

Our key goals:

14. Innovative, inclusive and effective approaches to education (whether through teaching or pupil support) which take account of the individual needs and experiences of pupils in all ethnic groups are embedded throughout Scotland's education system

Statistically, minority ethnic pupils in Scotland's schools have higher rates of attainment overall. However, these statistics are only part of the picture; the learning experience in Scottish schools is about more than just exam results. The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that all pupils benefit from an equitable, supportive educational experience which promotes equality and builds confidence for children and young people.

The results of our stakeholder engagement suggest that there are many areas where changes in practice could create a more positive learning experience for minority ethnic pupils in Scotland's schools. Ensuring that learning materials and lesson planning reflect diversity without promoting stereotypes was felt to be key. Incorporating minority ethnic histories within the curriculum, including the impact of transatlantic slavery and colonialism, was a particular interest.

Some race equality work has been taken forward by Education Scotland, for example a peer learning seminar on how young people can become ambassadors for equality, tackling racism and other forms of discrimination, complemented by education policy guidance. The Scottish Government aims to support and build on these approaches, encouraging evaluation to identify what works.

Stakeholders from both communities and professional groups involved in developing the Framework expressed concern about potential inequalities in financial support for learning. This was particularly raised in relation to the Educational Maintenance Allowance. More evidence is required to identify whether these are meeting the needs of minority ethnic learners.

To achieve this goal, we will:

  • Engage minority ethnic stakeholders in a review of relevant resources available to practitioners within Curriculum for Excellence
  • Work with Education Scotland to encourage local authorities to engage with minority ethnic communities in the decision making process for L3 choices (the second additional language) within Scottish Government's 1+2 Language Policy
  • Work with the National Parent Forum of Scotland to ensure that the experiences and views of minority ethnic parents and pupils are reflected within the NPFS review of the impact of parental engagement policy and legislation, and continue to support early learning and childcare settings and schools in Scotland to fully involve parents from minority ethnic communities in the life of the establishment and in their children's learning
  • Continue to work with delivery partners to ensure the Education Maintenance Allowance programme is promoted so that young people and parents (including those from minority ethnic communities) are aware of the programme, as a means to help 16-19 year olds overcome financial barriers to access and remain in learning

15. Minority ethnic pupils are provided with careers guidance that helps to improve transition into employment and tackles occupational segregation in relation to race

Effective careers guidance is essential for young people preparing to leave school. Minority ethnic school leavers in Scotland have high rates of moving on to a 'positive destination' such as further or higher education, however the initial positive destination does not always lead to sustained, high quality employment.

The results of our stakeholder engagement work also suggest that more could be done to encourage minority ethnic young people to consider wider ranges of potential post-school education and career paths. This could help to tackle occupational segregation affecting minority ethnic groups.

To achieve this goal, we will:

  • Work with Education Scotland and Skills Development Scotland to ensure that the all age careers service delivered in Scotland meets the needs of all people including those from minority ethnic communities
  • Along with national partners, ensure the Career Education Standard 3-18, the Work Placements Standard and the Guidance for School/Employer Partnerships supports delivery of the best quality careers guidance for minority ethnic young people, transitions to employment and, as part of their broader career education, contributes to tackling occupational segregation
  • Work with Education Scotland and national partners to ensure that the experiences and views of minority ethnic parents and pupils are reflected when the Career Education Standard 3-18 and Work Placement Standard are revisited as part of Developing the Young Workforce commitments

16. Minority ethnic pupils have confidence in, and are effectively supported by, approaches in schools to prevent and respond to prejudice-based bullying and racist behaviour or incidents

The Scottish Government's latest national policy on relationships and behaviour, 'Better relationships, Better learning, Better behaviour', contains priority actions that support local authorities and schools to further improve relationships and behaviour in their learning communities. This is central to the delivery of Curriculum for Excellence and the implementation of Getting it Right for Every Child ( GIRFEC). There is a range of strategies and programmes which schools can and do use to improve relationships and behaviour. Equality for minority ethnic learners is considered as part of the holistic approach to this. These strategies and programmes can link into approaches to preventing and responding to racist behaviour and incidents, which research has shown vary across Scotland. [15]

The self-evaluation tool 'How Good is Our School 4?' [16] was launched in September 2015 and will come into force for all schools in August 2016. This includes a safeguarding quality indicator and a specific quality indicator on ensuring wellbeing, equality and inclusion which will support schools to effectively evaluate their own practice and support self-improvement.

The Scottish Government launched 'A National Approach to Anti-bullying for Scotland's Children and Young People' in 2010. The approach forms part of our wider attempts to improve the health and wellbeing of our children and young people. The approach sets out a common vision and aims to make sure that work across all agencies and communities is consistently and coherently contributing to a whole school approach to anti‑bullying in Scotland. We are updating our National Approach to ensure that all sectors and communities, at a national and local level, are consistently and coherently contributing to a holistic approach to anti-bullying, including prejudice-based bullying.

This revised guidance will set the agenda for future years to support our ongoing work to ensure children and young people feel safe and secure and are able to build up strong and positive relationships with their peers and adults both within the school environment and also in the wider community. The updated guidance will be published in 2016.

The Scottish Government will seek to support this work, and will consider the recommendations of previous research as part of this.

To achieve this goal, we will:

  • Continue to support anti-bullying services, to build confidence and capacity to address bullying effectively, aligned to the National Approach to Anti-bullying for Scotland's Children and Young People and taking into account race equality considerations
  • Continue to work closely with Education Scotland to provide support around promoting positive relationships with children and young people, and resources around anti-bullying strategies (including around prejudice-based bullying)
  • Continue to work closely with Education Scotland to support local authorities to review, develop, plan and implement policy frameworks on positive relationships and behaviour from a race equality perspective, linked to related key policies and frameworks
  • Work with Education Scotland on reviewing and further developing its process of inspection, taking into account race equality considerations

17. Scotland's educators are confident and empowered to promote equality, foster good relations and prevent and deal with racism

Scotland's approach to teacher training and career-long professional learning encourages teachers to actively learn and develop the skills to meet pupils' needs and tackle the wide variety of challenges that can arise in the classroom. The General Teaching Council for Scotland's Standard for Full Registration, [17] which is the baseline standard of competence which applies to teachers throughout their careers, includes specific references to equality issues. In particular, it requires teachers to commit to the principles of democracy and social justice through fair, transparent, inclusive and sustainable policy and practices in relation to a range of equality characteristics, including ethnicity. It also requires them to value and respect social, cultural and ecological diversity and to promote the principles and practices of local and global citizenship for all learners.

A wide range of resources and learning opportunities has been developed to support practitioners to embed equality, some of which have had a focus on race equality. There is also now more emphasis on equality in inspection and self-evaluation. The self-evaluation tool 'How Good is Our School 4?' [18] referred to earlier includes a specific quality indicator on ensuring wellbeing, equality and inclusion to support schools to effectively evaluate their own practice and to support self-improvement. This should encourage schools to take opportunities to improve practice by identifying gaps and developing more effective approaches. In order to ensure that all practitioners have access to high quality learning and development around race equality and anti-racism, Scottish Government will support further developments in this area over the lifetime of the Framework.

To achieve this goal, we will:

  • Ensure that equality and intercultural competency training resources are developed and made available to practitioners at all stages of their careers - through initial teacher education, induction and career long professional learning

18. Scotland's education workforce better reflects the diversity of its communities

The Scottish Government believes that fair, proportionate representation of minority ethnic people within Scotland's education workforce would have numerous benefits. As well as creating more equality in access to professional, good quality employment opportunities, this would have an impact on all pupils during their time in early learning and childcare, at school and beyond, demonstrating an inclusive and socially cohesive environment in educational establishments and providing role models for young people. For those involved in educating our children, it's also vital to ensure career progression pathways are in place.

To achieve this goal, we will:

  • Work with the newly established Strategic Board for Scottish Education, which includes representatives of the Scottish Government, the Early Learning and Childcare Quality and Workforce Group, the teacher education universities, the teacher unions, local authorities and other education stakeholders, to consider how to address equality and diversity issues in the Scottish education workforce - in particular the gender balance and the ethnic diversity of the workforce

19. Minority ethnic people experience better outcomes in completing further and higher education, and in transitioning to the labour market after completion

Despite high attainment levels at school and rates of entry to further and higher education after school, statistically, minority ethnic people are not receiving the labour market advantages which should be expected from their positive educational outcomes. Unemployment and underemployment are relatively high for minority ethnic groups, including for minority ethnic graduates.

Lack of access to high-quality jobs for minority ethnic people impacts on a range of other inequalities, in particular the higher rates of poverty experienced by minority ethnic groups. Ensuring that further and higher educational attainment leads to labour market advantages is essential to address racial inequality.

To achieve this goal, we will:

  • Through college and university Outcome Agreements, ensure that minority ethnic people do not face barriers to full participation and successful outcomes across Further ( FE) and Higher Education ( HE) that other students might not face
  • Ensure that minority ethnic people continue to be represented across FE and HE proportionately to the general population, and continue to experience positive outcomes in completing courses
  • Ensure access to effective careers guidance and employability support for minority ethnic people in FE and HE to enable positive transitioning to the labour market after completion


Our aim was to create a Race Equality Framework based on the priorities, needs and experiences of Scotland's minority ethnic communities. We worked to engage as many people as we could through the process with a particular focus on those whose voices are not heard as often. We also worked to capture the expertise of people within public services, voluntary sectors and academia. The Framework outlines how we will work in partnership with our agencies and other key stakeholders to address a wide range of opportunities for progress in six themed Visions. The sections of the Framework each cover one of these themed Visions, exploring the goals the Scottish Government aims to meet. The first of these Visions sets out the overarching ambition for race equality in Scotland which we aim to achieve by 2030.


Email: race-equality-team@gov.scot

Back to top