A recent BBC-comissioned YouGov survey shawed that aroon 61% o Scots got their sense o identity fae their kennin o the History o Scotland. Yet mony pupils at some o Scotland’s maist kenspeckle scuils will hae this week sat their English History GCSE, efter studyin sic courses as Life in Elizabethan England, wi the result that bairns an young adults dinnae hae a basic grunnin in the history o their ain country, tae the displeisure o pupils an academics baith, an the risk tae the sense o identity o the pupils.

“It’s weird cause a lot of the time Scotland is this bad country in our history classes,” ae current Scottish student telt The Herald. “We get taught that it’s a nuisance, sort of a dark place on the edge of England.”

The young lassie, wha didnae want nemmed, is a pupil o Strathallan Scuil in Perthshire whaur the hail suite o GCSEs, inclusive o History, is yaised. She further telt o her concerns that nae daein Scottish History meant she didnae ken onythin aboot her surroundins. She wis born an raised in Stirling, which pits her richt at the hert o the history o Jacobitism, Bannockburn an Wallace tae nemme ainly the maist kenspeckle events. Yet she ainly gets lairnt Scots history whaur it impacts upon England, sic as the wee cameo o Mary Queen o Scots in the Life in Elizabethan England section.

Fir Dr Andra MacKillop, Senior Lecturer in Scottish History intae Glasgae University, this isnae guid eneuch. “Scotland shouldnae ainly be seen tae be relevant whin it encroaches ontae English nor the UK's history. It gings wi its ains rhythm, an pairt o its distinctiveness is the wey that whiles it coories in wi English an Welsh connections, an whiles sinders wi them aathegither.”

The English GCSE system isnae sib at aa tae the Scottish Curriculum fir Excellence. The latter system gies teachers the pooer tae adapt the lessons tae their ain airts an pairts o the warld an tae local issues. The GCSE content is gied oot via fower exam boards, wi nae muckle choice aboot whit subjects tae wale.They are able tae study Crime an punishment an Britain fae 1000AD tae the present, the rise o Hitler afore the Secont Warld War, the aaready mentioned Life in Elizabethan England, as weel’s mair international themes. O particular issue tae Dr MacKillop wis the course Crime and Punishment in Britain since 1000AD. “A body wha spake aboot the history o the United States fae 1000AD wad be hunted oot the classroom - an Britain was creatit ainly seventy year afore the US, sae the same logic applies.”

Dr MacKillop continued, “Sic an ahistorical tendency tae see the lang gait o English History as a seamless precursor tae British history is tae tak awa ony foondation o credibility fae thon British History.

HeraldScotland: The clear blue sky provides a stunning backdrop for this dizzying view of the tower at Glasgow University, captured by Evening Times reader June Toner. Do you have a picture you'd like to share? E-mail your image to yourpics@eveningtimes.co.uk

Glasgow University

Lewis Rattray is the dominie o History at Strathallan scuil, ane o a guid skelp o scuils in Scotland whaur the History is primarily lairnt tae bairns an young adults through the English GCSE programme. He defendit the yaise o the GCSE curriculum first an faremaist on economic gruns: “There’s a mercat fir it. Mony parents in Scotland are mair nor happy tae senn their bairns tae scuils tae hae the GCSE system lairnt them.

Also, Mr Rattray maks clear teachin GCSE is pairt o these scuils independent status. “Gin we cannae wale tae teach GCSEs, then we arnae independent ony mair!”.

Speirt at whether or no haein Anglo-centric History lairnt them wad interfere wi the pupils’ sense o identity, Mr Rattray said: “The college has a gey strang Scotto-Brittanic identity (gin sic a hing exists). We hae a pipe band, wear kilts, ging tae Murrayfield an hae a baa on St Andra's Dey. On the ither haun we’re closer tae Anglican Communion nor the kirk, sing 'Jerusalem' and 'Vow to thee my country' as weel’s 'God save the queen' an hae a Combined Cadet Force wha merch ilka week in British military uniform.

"Gin ye speirt at oor bairns ‘dae ye feel British or Scottish’ they’d mair nor likely repone ‘baith’ an ‘whits the difference?’ I wadnae imagine that a history class wad owreturn nor impact owre muckle on that.”

The issue has been mair sair felt syne Michael Gove, himsel a Scots bairn educatit at an independent scuil, insistit that mair Anglo-centric approach be tane tae History GCSE courses, durin his time as Education Secretary.

Independent scuils are noo unner mair scrutiny, wi the Scottish Government recently takin awa fae them the preferential tax rates they hid aye enjoyed. They are currently free tae teach whitever curriculum they see fit.


This is the latest article by Alistair Heather published by The Herald in Scots. Click on his byline above to see more.