Scottish pupils to learn about Scotland for first time ever

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by a Newsnet reporter

Scottish students are to be given the opportunity to learn more about our nation after  a new subject was announced by the Scottish government.

Dr Alasdair Allan, the SNP’s Minister for Learning and Skills, said the new school subject of Scottish Studies, will explore Scotland’s ‘history, literature, language and culture’.

Research indicates there is widespread support among Scots for the SNP’s plans to correct the “abnormal” situation where Scottish history and literature is not routinely taught in Scottish schools.

Support for the new topic of Scottish Studies has large backing from the Scottish public, recent research suggests 90% of those surveyed favour its introduction into schools.

A Scottish Government working group on Scottish Studies will invite views and input from academics, teachers and Scottish cultural groups and organisations.

The SNP’s 2011 election manifesto stated that an externally marked exam in secondary school was desirable to correct the current situation at the lower level of National 4 and National 5 (which replaced Standard Grades) and possibly up to Higher and Advanced Higher.

Labour has attacked the move accusing the SNP of trying to politicise education and promote nationalism.

Dr Allan denies the claim and said: “The content of Scottish history is not particularly political, and it will be taught in an impartial way.  The idea that presenting facts about Scotland is indoctrination is not taken particularly seriously today.  That view is becoming so silly. There is no evidence that parents view learning about Scottish history as indoctrination.”

The Minister said there is agreement that the Scottish education system has failed to give people basic information about their own country, a situation that the Scottish government would like to see remedied for the greater benefit of those receiving an education in Scotland.

He added: “It is not normal or reasonable to have a situation where it depends on the enthusiasm of teachers as to whether or not  pupils learn anything at all about Scottish literature or history – there is something abnormal about the situation that we have to normalise.”

Dr. Allan will chair an expert group that will develop the new subject of Scottish Studies available to all pupils as a mainstream subject and not just an “add-on”.  It will be taught ‘throughout the curriculum in primary and secondary’ schools, and will continue through a pupil’s whole education at school.

“If it is valuable for a new generation of Scots to know something about their country, then it is something that has to feed through the entire journey through school.”

Dr Allan is the MSP for the Western Isles, he attended Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities, gaining a PhD in Scots Language in 1998.  A Gaelic column writer for various newspapers, he was named ‘Gaelic journalist of the year’ in 2006.