Education and nationalism in Scotland: governing a 'learning nation'

Margaret Arnott, Jenny Ozga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Nationalism is a key resource for the political work of governing Scotland, and education offers the Scottish National Party (SNP) government a policy space in which political nationalism (self determination) along with social and cultural forms of civic nationalism can be formed and propagated, through referencing ‘inwards’ to established myths and traditions that stress the ‘public’ nature of schooling/education/universities and their role in construction of ‘community’; and referencing ‘outwards’, especially to selected Nordic comparators, but also to major transnational actors such as OECD, to education’s role in economic recovery and progress. The SNP government has been very active in the education policy field, and a significant element of its activity lies in promoting a discourse of collective learning in which a ‘learning government’ is enabled to lead a ‘learning nation’ towards the goal of independence. This paper draws on recent research to explore recent and current developments in SNP government education policy, drawing on discourse analysis to highlight the political work that such policy developments seek to do, against the backdrop of continuing constitutional tensions across the UK.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)253-265
Number of pages12
JournalOxford Review of Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • nationalism; governance; governing strategies; devolution; education policy; learning nation


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