MY dear friend and esteemed colleague Alison Rowat wrote a typically sharp and robust column last week which addressed how Scottish history is taught in our schools. Ms Rowat had expressed her admiration for the BBC documentary series Union with the historian David Olusoga.

In doing so, she lamented the fact that in her own school days she had been taught nothing about the history of Scotland and that the documentary had highlighted this large gap in her education

It brought to mind a rather curious series of encounters I had with the Scottish Government almost 20 years ago when I raised this startling oversight with them. I had been working as an executive with Her Majesty’s Daily Mail and had long wondered why a child could emerge after 12 years of education without ever having been required to study the history of their own nation.

I raised this issue with the then-Education Minister Fiona Hyslop who at first seemed slightly taken aback that someone such as myself, who worked for such a Unionist-facing organ, should be keen to pursue this. 

“Madam Secretary,” I replied, “in any matter concerning Scotia’s children we journalists always take our responsibilities seriously and this includes knowing how we all got here and why.” 

Put simply, I wanted to see a separate Scottish History paper at Higher level. And then, at some point, I was hopeful that a substantial quantum of all secondary school history courses would require detailed study of Scotland’s own vibrant memoir.   

Ms Hyslop very quickly got on board with the idea and arranged for me to have a meeting with two of her senior civil servants at St Andrew’s House. 

My two interlocutors during this meeting, Ms A and Ms D, were similarly flummoxed as to my interest in this. “Why should this matter to you,” they asked, seeming to imply that some 
vile and artful red-top stratagem lay behind it. 

I replied that, among many other issues that divide us as a nation, ignorance about – for instance – matters pertaining to faith and religion were at the root of many. And that being required to study the causes, conduct and effects of the Scottish Reformation – a key period in Scotland’s history – would go some way to addressing this. 

It would also help address ignorance regarding Scotland’s distinct political, social and cultural history, and identity within the Union, I suggested.    

I’m pleased to say that not long after this, Ms Hyslop duly delivered a Higher paper on Scottish History. Three cheers for the Madam Secretary. Sadly, it came far too late for the generation that spawned Ms Rowat and me. 

The Herald:

Appliance of science
I’M also pleased to report in the context of Scotland’s education system that at least one sector remains committed to providing our children with the scientific truth about another major issue of our time. 

I’m told that two large Catholic secondary schools within one of our local authority areas were recently invited to distribute a teaching pack about sex and gender. 

Having studied this resource carefully, the school managements were troubled by its messaging.

They felt that in a matter of such profound importance to children’s physical and psychological development it fell substantially short of the scientific rigour that teachers would normally require of such a government-backed (and generously-funded) document. 

“It was little more than trite propaganda pushing an extremely dodgy agenda,” I was told. And so, into the bin it went. 

Isn’t it good to know that in the Catholic education sector at least, children are being taught the scientifically-proven fact that there are only two sexes and that a man with a penis can never be considered a woman? 

It’s just Nat on
THERE has long been a suspicion among many of us that the professional wing of the SNP is where scientific rigour and common intelligence go to wither and die. 

This seemed to be borne out by several of the exchanges on BBC Scotland’s Debate Night last week, which featured Clare Adamson, an SNP MSP who is convener of the Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee.

The Herald:

Responding to concerns that learning materials pushing the propaganda rejected by Catholic schools were being foisted on schools without any parental input, she said: “I think what’s appropriate is what the educators want to do.” 

Parents should have no agency in this and leave it to “the experts within the school”, she said.  

To be fair to Ms Adamson, she was only sticking to the SNP script in the Sturgeon/Yousaf era: that the wider Scottish population are too thick to know what’s good for them.  

We’ll pay the cost
IT would also be good to know how much public money has been received by those groups pushing this ersatz and damaging nonsense in our schools. And to what extent the personal circumstances and lifestyles of their founders and executives have flourished by so doing.