Scots studies 'not brainwashing', says SNP minister

image captionMinisters want to include Scottish history in a number of subject areas

The SNP schools minister has dismissed claims the government is trying to brainwash children with a new Scottish studies course.

Alasdair Allan, who has raised concern Scots history is being neglected in schools, said the plans were supported by parents and teachers.

Labour, which previously expressed strong concern over the move, has given it a cautious welcome.

But the Tories questioned whether such a course was needed.

Ministers have been taking views from a range of experts on Scottish studies, an SNP election manifesto pledge, which would focus on Scotland's historical, literary, linguistic and cultural heritage.

The government is keen to look at Scots history in particular, but would also like to see more Scottish literature taught in schools, as well as Scots and Gaelic languages.

Ministers have insisted pupils would not be required to take up a course like Scottish studies, but they want to ensure that Scots history gets woven into a range of subject areas.

During a debate at Holyrood, Mr Allan responded to previous comments by Labour education spokesman Ken Macintosh, who told the BBC: "My suspicion is that this is just the SNP trying to brainwash children into their political view."

The schools minister said: "All young people deserve the opportunity to learn about their own country - and nowhere else but here would this be questioned.

"Those who still do may perhaps wish to consider taking a deep breath, turning away from their own constitutional obsessions for one moment and seeing that Scottish studies is healthy, normal, supported by people across the political spectrum and across the world of education.

"And it is also supported by parents."

Labour's Claire Baker said, "maybe we've all made unfortunate comments in the lead-up to this debate".

But she added that Mr Allan had wrongly claimed Scots teachers were failing to offer basic information about their own country.

She said of the proposal: "I feel it needs to move from being an attractive, even emotive hearts-and-minds policy in a party political manifesto to a fully-developed, robust addition to the curriculum which would give value to the school experience and advantage to people if it is to succeed."

Tory education spokeswoman Liz Smith said she was "confused" over the Scottish studies plan.

She added: "I thought it was very plain to most observers that Scottish studies in their widest sense were already very embedded in the Scottish curriculum and that they will be very much enhanced by the curriculum for excellence in all schools.

"Within all the research that I can find, there seems to be a wealth of evidence which tells us there is already considerable and good-quality coverage for Scottish literature, language, politics, culture and history."

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