Anti-bullying Respect for All Working Group: terms of reference

Terms of reference for the Anti-bullying: Respect for All Working Group.

In response to the Equalities and Human Rights Committee report “It’s not Cool to be Cruel: Prejudice-based bullying and harassment of children and young people in school”, John Swinney, the then Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, committed to reviewing this guidance in full at least once every five years. The review was due to take place in 2022 but was delayed due to COVID-19 so has begun in early 2023. 

In 2019, the Scottish Government introduced a consistent national approach to recording and monitoring bullying incidents in schools. The Scottish Government commissioned HMIE to carry out a thematic inspection on how successfully the new approach had been implemented, which was published on 23 February 2023. 

The thematic inspection showed that staff use a range of supportive approaches when dealing with children and young people in response to incidents of bullying. Most children and young people know who to speak to if they, or someone they know, are being bullied. However, it also highlighted key areas for improvement. 

The review of Respect for All will address key findings from the thematic inspection as well as updating the guidance on other priority areas such as online bullying, and more clearly differentiating bullying from violence, hate crime and other forms of prejudice. 

HMIe will also undertake a second phase of its thematic inspection, looking at good practice in how schools are responding to bullying. Education Scotland will publish this report later this year and the findings will inform this work.

The updated review will be considered by the Scottish Advisory Group on Relationships and Behaviour in Schools. 


Respect for All Working Group members will:

  • attend working group meetings
  • work together to identify areas in existing guidance (including the supplementary guidance on recording and monitoring) in need of review and any further updates required
  • make suggested changes to the current guidance 
  • provide on-going input and feedback on the drafting process and updated guidance
  • make suggestions of key stakeholders to engage with throughout the process, and supporting that engagement where appropriate
  • ensure the review is aligned with wider related work 
  • support communications around updated guidance (sharing with networks, for example)


The national guidance is for all those working with children and young people.

We expect that all independent schools have an anti-bullying policy in line with 'Respect for All’. 


It is estimated that it will take around 18 months for the group to deliver this project.

The first meeting took place in March 2023 and the work is expected to conclude in 2024.   

Chair and membership

The group will consist of representation from a wide range of organisations. 

The Scottish Government Support and Wellbeing Unit will provide Chair and secretariat functions for the working group.


Group members may be asked to support communication activity around the review. 

Frequency and location of meetings

Meetings will take place approximately every six to eight weeks, with meetings held for the foreseeable future on MS Teams. Members may be invited to provide views via correspondence between meetings.

Papers and minutes

Papers and minutes of meetings will be published on the Scottish Government’s website.  

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