Anti-racism teaching to be ‘embedded’ into school life in Scotland

The Scottish Government has unveiled plans to embed anti-racism and race equality into all aspects of school life – including Scotland’s links to the slave trade.

The resource published by Education Scotland aims to ensure children and young people see language, content and imagery that reflects the diversity of culture, identities, and experiences, including their own.

Today also sees the publication of guidance from anti-racism charity the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights and a teacher toolkit published by Scotdec, one of Scotland’s Development Education Centres, both of which will further support teachers in embedding anti-racism across the curriculum.

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The Education Scotland document includes resources to explain to children Scotland’s “historical role in empire, colonialism and transatlantic slavery, and the diversity of Scottish society in the past”, adding that it “helps learners understand how Scotland’s colonial past plays a role in their current everyday lives”, as well as acknowledging the successes and impact of minority ethnic historical figures, in relation to Scottish and global history.

Anti-racism will be embedded in the school curriculum. Picture: PAAnti-racism will be embedded in the school curriculum. Picture: PA
Anti-racism will be embedded in the school curriculum. Picture: PA

Earlier this year, it emerged that thousands of racist incidents have taken place in Scottish schools in recent years. A Freedom of Information request made by the Liberal Democrats in January found 2,251 instances of racism in schools between the 2017/18 and 2019/20 academic years. Glasgow City Council saw the highest number of reported incidents with 642, with reports in Edinburgh at 490.

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Thousands of racist incidents in Scottish schools

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “Racism of any form has no place in Scotland which is why embedding anti-racism into the ethos and practice of our education system is imperative.

“This new Education Scotland guidance builds on existing resources available and was developed in collaboration with a range of young people, education practitioners and organisations with lived experience of racism and expertise in addressing it.”

She added: “Our schools and our curriculum seek to promote and inspire a sense of belonging, inclusion and social justice for learners, practitioners and the wider community. Having an education system that provides an opportunity for anti-racism learning, debate and leadership is crucial in our attempt to eradicate racism in wider society.”

Education Scotland chief executive and chief inspector of education, Gayle Gorman, said: “It is essential that all our children and young people develop an understanding of the world around them and how it has been shaped, as well as an appreciation of the contribution made by people from a range of cultures and identities.

"Our new resource will support the profession to teach and build a society which advances equality and actively rejects and challenges racial discrimination. We hope that our whole-school approach to race equality and anti-racism will help children and young people develop as responsible global citizens."

The 2011 census found that 450,000 people, 8.2 per cent, of the Scottish population self-identified as being from an ethnic minority community, with the majority living in Scotland’s cities.

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The document said: “It is too narrow a measure success of our Minority Ethnic learners by considering only attainment. We need to examine whether our learners feel included and valued and whether the breadth of the curriculum is responsive to the diverse needs of individual learners and reflects the uniqueness of learners’ communities.

“The confidence of all learners is enhanced when their heritage and culture are equally recognised, explored, respected and valued.”

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