Identity and Instrumentality: History in the Scottish School Curriculum, 1992-2017



Smith J (2018) Identity and Instrumentality: History in the Scottish School Curriculum, 1992-2017. Historical Encounters, 5 (1), pp. 31-45.

This paper explores changes in the Scottish history curriculum over the last quarter-century and interprets these in the context of wider debates about Scottish nationhood. By comparing the framing of history within Scotland’s two national curriculum documents1 of this period (5-14 Guidelines and Curriculum for Excellence) it is argued that an implicit narrative of national identity has emerged. This curricular nationalism is not the nationalism of separatism, but rather of a national sense of self which informs both how the past is viewed, and Scotland’s future relationship with the world. The paper develops this contention using concepts proposed from Arnott and Ozga (2010) regarding an ‘inward-facing’ discourse of heritage and citizenship and the ‘outward-facing’ discourse of employability and global competitiveness.  While this emergent curricular nationalism has paralleled growing support for self-determination, the paper does not posit a causal relationship between the two. Instead it implies that both are consequences of the discursive spaces opened by devolution and the recreation of the Scottish parliament in 1999.

History Curriculum; History Education; Nationalism; Scotland

Historical Encounters: Volume 5, Issue 1

Publication date31/12/2018
Publication date online28/06/2018
Date accepted by journal27/09/2017
PublisherHERMES History Education Research Network
Publisher URL…ticle/view/95/78

People (1)


Dr Joseph Smith

Dr Joseph Smith

Lecturer, Education

Research programmes