Scottish History in the Classroom

A group of academics in the College of Arts are paving the way to develop resources to support the teaching of Scottish History in the classroom. Led by Dr Karin Bowie, Profs Lynn Abrams, Dauvit Broun, Simon Newman and Drs Catriona Macdonald and Steven Reid the team have been engaging with the teaching support associations and teachers in the classrooms to ensure that the teaching/learning experience in the classroom is as informative and engaging as possible.

The Scottish Government's requirement that schools offer at least one Scottish History topic at Higher level has excited teacher interest in these topics and has created receptive audiences for the various resources provided by Broun, Abrams, Bowie and Reid.

Engaging directly with Education Scotland, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and the Scottish Association of Teachers of History (SATH), the academics have sought to ensure that the Scottish secondary school history curriculum reflects up-to-date academic perspectives. 

Commented David Gregory, HMI 
Education Scotland: “The link between university academics and teachers in schools is providing access to the latest historical thinking for young people across Scotland. This not only improves access to resources for teachers but increases opportunities for young people to develop their thinking about their past. The links may encourage teachers to offer courses on aspects of the past that are currently not widely studied.”

Prof Dauvit Broun has been instrumental in this change via the development of a vast database of 12th and 13th century Scotland: People of Medieval Scotland or POMS (formerly known as Paradox of Medieval Scotland).  Prof Broun comments:“POMS is an exciting new research tool that is changing the way we think about the subject. It’s not only academics like myself who have been entrenched in the subjects for many years that are using it, the database has been designed to cater for a wide a range of users as possible. A key user group is school kids and their teachers.”

“POMS is intended to provide the capability to personalize and localize learning; to make it relevant and therefore, hopefully more interesting for both the teachers and the pupils. From Dingwall to Dumfries schools can investigate history that can be contextualized. Scottish History should look different in different parts of Scotland. The best people to know how that works are the teachers, not the academics and it is the teachers' enthusiasm and their understanding of the subject which makes the teachers best placed to know how this will actually work in the classroom.”

POMS Database

People of Medieval Scotland is a database of the 21,000+ people mentioned in the 8500+ documents from Scotland that survive between 1093 and 1314.

POMS has been designed to cater for beginners as well as experts, since learners can explore and discover this pivotal period of Scotland’s past on their own terms. Experts can conduct research in days and hours that would once have taken them months. The database also offers beginners and experts a new experience of engaging with the past, allowing thousands of individuals, and hundreds of places, to take centre stage. It is left to the user to decide what is interesting and important.

Special features include:

  • A ‘lab’ space for quick and thought-provoking ways to explore the database
  • Gaelic names are identified in their medieval and modern forms. This will help many Scots from outside Geiltacht to appreciate the Gaelic dimension of their history.
  • A multi-faceted search facility

The database is the outcome of two projects funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council: Paradox of Medieval Scotland, 1093-1286: Social Relationships and Identities before the Wars of Independence ( and Breaking of Britain: Cross-border Society and Scottish Independence 1216-1314 (, a collaboration between the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Lancaster, and King’s College, London.

Other Resources

There are many other Glasgow University resources available for school- and college-students of Scottish History. Dr Bowie explains:

“A range of resources has been developed including websites, databases and and video tutorials. Over the course of the next twelve months we intend to develop these resources further, presenting podcasts and live broadcasts of sessions that teachers can link into and possibly even participate on."

Dr Macdonald adds: "The School of Humanities is also investigating the provision of CPD (continuing professional development) courses for teachers which relate to its acknowledged expertise in a variety of areas, and are keen to hear requests from teachers and other education professionals for tailored Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses addressing disciplinary skills and curricula needs."

Email us