William Wallace terrorist or hero, pupils asked

Pupils at Bannockburn High were asked their views of the Scottish leader. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Pupils at Bannockburn High were asked their views of the Scottish leader. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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A SECONDARY school at the heart of Scotland’s Braveheart country asked pupils to discuss whether William Wallace was a freedom fighter or a terrorist.

Bannockburn High School in Stirling handed S2 pupils a list of individuals and groups, most of whom are associated with attacks on civilians around the world. Wallace was also on the list.

The “homework assignment” given to modern studies pupils included Osama bin Laden, the IRA and one of the Oklahoma City bombers.

Head teacher James McParland said pupils were encouraged to decide for themselves whether the figures were terrorists or freedom fighters.

He said: “During this unit, pupils are encouraged to develop their critical thinking skills and examine information pertaining to a number of public figures, both current and historical. Pupils are also given a brief biography of each public figure, including William Wallace.

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“They are asked to take account of the political context of their actions and give their opinion as to whether they believe the public figure to be a terrorist or freedom fighter.

“In reference to William Wallace they are also informed that he was considered at the time to be a terrorist by those opposed to Scottish independence and are encouraged, as they are with all public figures involved, to state their opinion based on the information given.”

One parent, who asked not to be named, said: “I was horrified when my child brought this home. William Wallace has no place on that list.

“They should be teaching that Wallace is a great historical figure for Scotland, particularly at this school where you can look out the windows straight over to the Wallace Monument.”

Wallace was betrayed and taken to London where he was condemned for treason and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered in August 1305.

The “biography” on Wallace given to pupils, read: “He hoped to claim back independence of Scotland from the hands of the English. He killed a number of people in the process, including William Hazelrig, the English Sheriff of Lanark. He won his most famous victory in the 
Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297.”

Gary Stewart, convener of The Society of William Wallace, said: “It’s embarrassing that a Scottish school has produced something like this. I’m sure you wouldn’t find English schools discussing their heroes in this way.

“William Wallace was not fighting to claim back independence – Scotland was an independent country at that time and Wallace was fighting against an invading force who controlled parts of his country.”

He added: “It’s dangerous to compare Wallace with terrorists. He was a freedom fighter and should be remembered as one of Scotland’s greatest heroes.”