At the heart of the Scottish Studies Working Group's 2012 recommendations was the belief that Scottish culture, in all its diverse shapes and forms, should be given its natural place at the heart of the curriculum in all stages, both primary and secondary, with the award seen as the logical outcome, an attainment gained by the majority at different levels between third and sixth years.
While some schools have embraced Scottish Studies enthusiastically, in many places the new award has clearly not received the attention it deserves or simply hasn't registered with senior management, at least judging by the very low uptake in its first year. There are even teachers who claim to have never heard of it.
Although it is early days yet, we are clearly a long way from the working group's aspirations. Unfortunately in too many schools, Scottish Studies still means little more than the token gesture of holding a Scottish Day at an appropriate time of the year or encouraging children to enter the annual Burns Competition, which is maybe better than nothing, but does not amount to a meaningful or sustained engagement with the culture of our land in any depth.
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Possibly Scottish Studies is seen in some places as a problem of trying to find space for another subject in a crowded curriculum, or just as an optional add-on, when it really should be at the heart of things, based on a key educational concept which is embraced around the globe: that learning begins by investigating the local environment and culture and works out from there to the rest of the world so that our young folk progress in their awareness from the microcosm to the macrocosm and back again.
Most countries also ensure that their children have a sound appreciation of key aspects of their culture, especially their history, literature, languages, art and music and so on. Yet in Scotland this is strangely seen as merely optional, a matter of teacher or pupil preference. Unfortunately, some teachers seem indifferent or oblivious to its importance, while some are also insufficiently qualified to teach many key aspects of our culture.
Perhaps the only way to ensure that our culture really occupies a central role throughout the curriculum is to consider some sort of mandatory element at all stages, not by prescribing what should be studied but being a lot more explicit about how and where we should expect Scottish culture to be placed at the heart of learning as a matter of course. While teacher and pupil choice are important, our culture is so rich and diverse that there should always be plenty of choice available, starting with what is on the doorstep.
There is also the crucial issue of entitlement, as all children have a right to learn about their own culture and to learn both about and in their own languages, in our case Scots and Gaelic as well as English. Indeed the issue of language should be at the very centre of all this as we have too long suffered from a cultural cringe that has prevented us from appreciating that in being comfortable and confident in at least two of our native languages, we have in our very midst a great educational asset, including acquiring key skills for learning other languages.
The Scottish Studies recommendations also made it very clear that the new award has implications for entry requirements to the profession and for initial teacher education. After a period of consultation in 2013 the General Teaching Council produced a short statement saying that, as part of the teacher education programme, "students should develop awareness of how the study of Scottish culture can be developed within the curriculum".
This is clearly inadequate in many ways, but it is at least hopefully something to build on. Unfortunately we still have no way of ensuring that new entrants to the profession will be suitably qualified to teach our children about the culture of their own land, something that most countries in the world simply take for granted.