Certificate In Scottish Studies – An opportunity for traditional music

The Certificate in Scottish Studies was established in 2014 to allow students in schools and colleges the opportunity to study subjects which are Scottish orientated.  This reflects  demands to make the curriculum more Scottish.    

In the 1980’s the Scottish Consultative Committee on the Curriculum (SCCC) gathered evidence from teachers and others on whether the curriculum should be more focused on a Scottish perspective.  As a teacher then, I gave my tuppence worth saying that it should.  From my recollection then, there was a groundswell of opinion amongst many teachers in favour.  Alas, the popular notion died a slow death, owing to opposition from Labour politicians md others who feared that such changes would be a boost for the growing numbers supporting the Scottish National Party.  And so the SCCC was no more.

 In 2014 the first intake of a new Certificate on Scottish Studies began in Scottish schools.  It was not mandatory despite calls from some that it should be.  No longer, it was hoped, students could go through their schooling and have nothing Scottish in the curriculum.  Also the gaelic language was included as an option. What is the new Certificate in Scottish Studies?  It allows students to either study the entire certificate as a free standing separate entity or, an opportunity to dip in and take aspects.  The latter is apparently more popular than the latter.  For example, if a student is studying say geography, then the teacher can include a Scottish aspect of this, rather than the need to recruit a specialist teacher of Scottish geography.  As long as this teaching and learning is done in a Scottish context.  This link below provides more details about the certificate. 

So is there relevance here for Scottish traditional music?  Yes.  Culture in the certificate includes music, as long as it is taught in a Scottish context.  So there lies the opportunity. 

 The take up of the new certificate is apparently low.  The (Glasgow) Herald in September 2014 reported that only 159 students in Scotland in the inaugural year had enrolled for the certificate.  The article did not clarify whether this referred to the stand alone full certificate, or for dipping into parts of it.  The Herald indicated there was still opposition to the certificate from some quarters, mostly political.  The 1980’s arguments against had resurfaced.  It’s a pity if political bickering should hamper such an important educational opportunity for traditional music.

 I have talked to two schools that have used parts or all of the certificate and the response from the pupils is apparently mixed.  I suppose it depends who is doing the teaching! I would like to see an ad hoc group formed from TMF members and others to investigate the opportunities for traditional music offered by the new certificate.  If nothing else, the certificate should provide employment opportunities for trad musicians to get paid work in schools and colleges.  Please contact me if you are in favour of being part of an ad hoc group.  If we don’t take up the opportunity offered by the certificate, then we will lose it.  We must not let this opportunity be lost.

 Dave Dewar,  tel 077 655 73240