Exams to include Scottish Texts

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Every pupil taking Higher English exams will have a guaranteed entitlement to study Scottish texts, the Scottish Government announced last week.

Marking Burns Day, Education Secretary Michael Russell signalled the Government’s intention to ensure that all pupils will answer at least one question on Scottish texts.

The announcement confirms acceptance of the recommendation from the Scottish Studies Working Group and course assessment for the new Higher English courses will include a specific element on Scottish texts from 2014-15 onwards.

The Education Secretary said:

“Our country has a rich and world renowned literary tradition and it is fitting to be able to make this announcement on Burns night, when we celebrate the national bard.

“Scotland’s contribution to literature is marked down the generations, Burns, Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson have provided work that has lasted the test of time, along with contemporary writers like Irvine Welsh and Liz Lochhead. We want our children and young people to have the chance to learn about our literary tradition and to inspire the future generations of Scottish writers.”

Scotland’s Makar Liz Lochhead said:

“In common with just about every English teacher, academic, and certainly every fellow writer, that I’ve consulted informally for their opinion, I am delighted that Scotland seeks to ensure that some Scottish texts are included in the Literature taught in our schools. And that it will be a requirement to answer an examination question on at least one of these.

“Remembering that such texts may be in English, Scots-English, Scots, or any mixture of these, may come from any historical period, including the present, and are certainly not required to reflect a chauvinistic or uncritical view of Scottish Society, it can only benefit our future citizens to so engage with their own culture. It is hard to think of any other country which doesn’t seek these opportunities for its teachers and students.”

Education Scotland and SQA will work in partnership with the Scottish Government and other stakeholders to deliver this commitment within the timescales and to review the requirements for material support for implementation of Scottish texts in Higher exams.

Education Scotland will also work closely with English teachers to ensure their needs for Continuous Professional Development are taken account of in the implementation of this decision.

The Scottish Studies Working Group will next meet on January 30. At this meeting the Group will finalise its recommendations. As part of this meeting it will consider and provide advice on whether the new provision around Scottish texts should also be extended to National 5.

As part of the Curriculum for Excellence Action Plan, the Scottish Government will bring forward proposals taking account of the groups recommendations by Apri. An early decision on recommendations relating to the English exams due to the timetable for the development of National Qualifications.