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No stand-alone status for new Scottish studies award

Scottish studies will not be a separate subject - but there will be a new award in Scottish studies.

Teachers will be expected to make connections between Scottish elements of existing subjects, it emerged this week. The development has been welcomed in light of concerns about the burden on schools.

On 21 March a new website, Studying Scotland, will be launched as a way of promoting interdisciplinary learning with a Scottish focus.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Qualifications Authority is to explore how a new award could be created to recognise Scottish studies.

The Scottish studies working group met four times before coming up with its recommendations this week. It calls for all young people to have the chance to learn some Gaelic, and all learners to have an understanding of the "unique contribution of Gaelic and Scots".

As announced by the Scottish government on Burns Night, Higher English exams will include at least one question on Scottish texts from 2014- 15.

The creation of "specific school champions" for Scottish studies is floated, although it is not indicated how many should operate in each local authority.

"We are now clear Scottish studies is not to be a discrete qualification," said Neil McLennan, a member of the working group and president of the Scottish Association of Teachers of History.

"There was serious concern among my own members that this might be `social studies through the back door' and further dilute the sanctity of discrete subject areas which offer the foundation for interdisciplinary learning. I am happy this is not going to be the case."

Fellow working group member Liz McGlashan, past-president of the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers, was satisfied that Scottish studies would not add to the workload of teachers. She added that, while Gaelic and Scots were important, other areas such as art and music had not been given the same attention.

Alasdair Allan, minister for learning, science and Scotland's languages, said the recommendations were "a significant step in the road to ensuring pupils in Scotland understand their country, its history, its achievements and its future".

Scottish studies created controversy last year, with former education minister Brian Wilson accusing the government of prioritising it over literacy, numeracy and international league tables.

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