Gender Based Violence In Schools Working Group minutes: December 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the Gender Based Violence in Schools group, held on 14 December 2021,

Attendees and apologies

In attendance

  • Scottish Government, Support and Wellbeing Unit (Chair)
  • Rape Crisis Scotland
  • Zero Tolerance
  • Scottish Women’s Aid
  • ADES
  • Scottish Council of Independent Schools
  • Educational Institute Scotland (EIS)
  • Education Scotland
  • Scottish Government, Violence Against Women and Girls Unit
  • Scottish Government, Community Safety Unit
  • Scottish Government, Equality in Education Team


  • TIE
  • Chair, Harmful Sexual Behaviours Delivery Group

Items and actions


The Chair welcomed everyone and noted apologies.

The Chair noted that this group had previously met in February 2020, following which work was paused due to pressures of COVID-19 response.

Terms of Reference (ToR)

The Chair noted that the ToR had been previously agreed by the working group and published in September 2020.

The group confirmed that they are content to proceed with the purpose and remit of the group, as outlined in the ToR. 

Members agreed to consider the timings of work, based on the discussion at this meeting.

Action: Secretariat to update timings of work in the Terms of Reference.

Paper 1 – actions list

The Chair noted that the actions list has been drafted to correlate to the ToR. Members were invited to review the proposed actions, and to suggest any changes or amendments.

Rape Crisis Scotland provided an update on recent work, noting that RHSP resources are now in place, as is Equally Safe at School which provides a suite of whole school materials.

The Harmful Sexual Behaviours Delivery Group has been set up since Pillars 2 and 3 were written in the ToR. The joint meeting between Gender Based Violence in Schools Working Group and the Harmful Sexual Behaviours Delivery Group in September 2021 had agreement that the two groups would ensure that actions correlate and avoid duplication of work. 

Action: Secretariat to ensure that links to Harmful Sexual Behaviours (HSB) work are reflected within action plan

Actions under action 1: Develop a ‘one stop shop’ document of effective resources for publication on the National Improvement Hub

It was confirmed that this would be specific to Gender Based Violence so that it can be easily found when searching the Hub.

It was confirmed that the GBV Wakelet is separate from, but is linked to, the domestic abuse wakelet developed with Education Scotland.

It was noted that the actions need to be carefully sequenced, as action 1 relies on outcomes from actions 3 to 5 and therefore will be completed after these actions.

Actions under action 2: Develop a National Approach to addressing incidents of harmful behaviour and gender based violence

NSPCC advised that the HSB subgroup on research will be conducting an audit on several Local Authority areas to look at how they respond to harmful sexual behaviours, what structures are in place and what referral pathways are available. This is likely to begin in January 2022 and findings are likely to be available in early Spring.

Action: NSPCC to update GBV Working Group on progress of this work and when findings will be available.

It was noted that action 2 has a lot of detail and content. There is a lot to be written and there are several challenging topics to consider. Timescales on this may therefore be more challenging.

The group discussed preparatory work needed for action 2. It was agreed that the original proposed completion date of December 2022 is not achievable and there is a need to build in time for the group to review the document as a whole.

Action: Scottish Government to work with Chairs to identify the preparatory work needed for action 2 and build in sufficient time in workplan.

It was noted that it would be helpful to include more about how school staff can be supported to deliver. It was recognised that there is no action around communication.

Action: SG to add specific action on communication and engagement with school staff.

It was noted that the work of this working group links with the current work of the Gender Equality Taskforce in Education and Learning (GETEL).

Action: Secretariat to link with GETEL around workplans.

The group considered if there is a need for a separate section in guidance for primary schools, or specific guidance for younger children. Age and stage should also be reflected in resources.

There is also a need to be mindful of parental engagement and parental views on what would be delivered for younger children.

Action: age and stage to be added to actions 2.4 and 2.5

Action: SG to engage with Education Scotland Education Officer with respect to curriculum.

It was confirmed that there will be engagement with school staff representative organisations during drafting process in order to check guidance is useful and workable. This would happen around action 2.9.

Actions under action 3: development of resources to support primary prevention (Pillar One)

Rape Crisis noted that there is a need to avoid duplicating what already exists with respect to ESAS, under action 3.6. Helpful if schools engage with ESAS as suite of materials. Chair confirmed that Scottish Government are committed to avoiding duplication and building from existing materials wherever possible.

Action: SG to clarify action 3.6 to avoid duplication with ESAS

The group considered what is meant by ‘primary prevention’ within the action plan. It was noted that primary prevention is understood within the context of Equally Safe, and that many of the systems that drive inequality sit outside of individual schools.

There is a link to the Theory of Change being developed by the GETEL, which also links to considering possible barriers to implementation.

A member from GETEL confirmed that the Taskforce have three high level aims, one of which is that girls and young women experience school free from any kind of violence in the classroom. Theory of Change is due to be completed in the new year.

Action: GBV Secretariat to engage with GETEL Secretariat on Theory of Change.

Actions under action 4: development of resources to support early intervention (Pillar Two)

There is a need to define the scope of behaviours under early intervention and what would be included.

It was confirmed that all the actions describe one whole school approach that includes all of the pillars. Resources developed under the pillars would be tools that would sit within the whole school approach.

Action: Secretariat to clarify that actions 3.6 and 4.5 will be parts of one whole school approach.

Actions under action 5: development of resources to support focused intervention (Pillar Three)

It was confirmed that this area of work will require engagement with the Harmful Sexual Behaviours Delivery Group.

There is a need to identify the gap that these resources will seek to address. There should be a further stage within the development process which establishes current position and identifies gaps.

Rape Crisis and Zero Tolerance noted that parts of ESAS may be able to be adapted for use in primary schools if there is a wish to do this.

It was noted that timescales would need to be revised as current proposed completion of December 2022 is not practical for this work.

Actions under action 6: development of a career long professional learning resource for teachers

Work under this action should be collating several things together into one place rather than creating something new.

Action: Secretariat to amend ‘teachers’ to ‘school staff’ in action 6

Action: Secretariat to remove ESAS under action 6.1 and make it ‘all relevant resources’

It was noted that the workstream should discuss how to encourage engagement from school staff. There is a strong need to take account of the current situation and pressures under which school staff are working. Recent experience has shown that there benefits and limitations to professional online learning. There is a need to provide an offer that is accessible in a way that suits individuals, and is agile enough to be suitable in different circumstances. 

It was agreed that there is a need to consider what the training offer for school staff should look like. There may not be a need for new resources, but rather the working group may consider setting out a CLPL pathway for GBV with associated resources.

CPD can be linked to GTCS standards, to make it easy for school staff to see how this will help them and to help school leadership to see the benefits.

The training will be available under the One Stop Shop on the National Improvement Hub (action 1)

There is potential within the national approach guidance framework to build in empowerment of schools. Across Scotland, schools will be at different points in this. This can be built in to the guidance, eg reflective questions on current position and what can be improved.

There is no engagement with children and young people in the action plan. It was noted that much of this work has been developed from projects such as Everyday Heroes which captured the voices of children and young people.

How do we offer professional learning? Empowerment, but also skill and confidence gap around delivering GBV materials.

Interactive online training has been successful, but there is a need to consider what effect this may have on participants who have personal experience of topics discussed. Online modules are good, but quality and attitude change with deeper conversations are also valuable and evident with this topic.

NSPCC have developed a pilot project and will be meeting with HSB Education Subgroup on training intervention. Can also feed back to GBV working group.

UNISON noted that resources need to provide support and training for support staff in schools too, as they work closely with children and young people and are often in positions of confidence. The Chair agreed that school support staff are very important for this work.

The Chair noted that there is more reflection needed on what the training resource needs to be, are there different ways in which we need to be able to present CPD in order to capture the different needs of the staff that we are looking to provide support to.

Action: SG to develop proposal on refining action 6 to improve clarity on how to achieve purpose

Action: Secretariat to update draft of actions list. This will be brought to the next meeting with view to confirm that action plan can be formally established


No other business was raised.

The Chair thanked members for their input and consideration.

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