Gender Based violence in Schools Working Group Minutes: January 2024

Minutes from the meeting of the Gender based violence in Schools Working Group on 23 January 2024

Attendees and apologies

  • Scottish Government Support and Wellbeing Unit (Chair)
  • Rape Crisis Scotland
  • Zero Tolerance Scotland
  • ADES
  • Women’s Aid Scotland
  • Education Scotland
  • Educational Institute Scotland (EIS)
  • National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)
  • Lucy Faithfull
  • Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Scottish Government Child Protection
  • Scottish Government Equality in Education (GETEL)
  • Scottish Government Violence Against Women and Girls Unit


Time for Inclusive Education (TIE)

Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS)

Items and actions


The Chair welcomed all members to the meeting.

Minutes from previous meetings

The Chair confirmed that draft minutes from both June and September meetings were circulated last week. No comments were received on either draft.

Members confirmed that they were content for June and September minutes to be published on the Scottish Government website.

Action: Secretariat to arrange for publication of June and September minutes.

Update on Behaviour in Scottish Schools Research

Scottish Government Health and Wellbeing team leader provided an update on the Behaviour In Scottish Schools Research (BISSR), which was published in November 2023. The research provides a clear and robust picture of teachers’ and support staff’s experiences of behaviour in publicly funded mainstream schools.

The research looks at a wide range of behaviours as described by school staff, including findings relating to misogyny and gender based violence.

18% of teachers reported experiencing sexual harassment between pupils, which is on par with other protected characteristics. Misogyny was identified as an emerging theme of the research, with staff interviewed within the qualitative research highlighting changes in boys’ attitudes towards their peers and female staff. The impact of online influencers was noted in the research. 

As part of whole response to BISSR, Scottish Government are developing an action plan with the Scottish Advisory Group on Relationships and Behaviour in Schools (SAGRABIS). GBV and misogyny will form a part of that response, and the work of the Gender Based Violence in Schools Working Group is informing that action plan.

Additionally, there is the existing Scottish Government commitment to commission an independent review to establish positive practice and further areas for improvement with relation to GBV in schools, during this parliamentary session.

Comments from working group members included:

  • the updated Equally Safe strategy was published on 7 December. The Equally Safe delivery plan to support the strategy is planned to be published in Spring. The Scottish Government Violence Against Women and Girls team will be engaging with stakeholders on what deliverables will be
  • NASUWT research found that frequency of abuse experienced by women teachers was significantly higher than that experienced by men
  • the EIS national survey echoes the findings of BISSR and NASUWT. Recruitment and retention of teachers can be impacted by these negative experiences. EIS is currently linking with Time for Inclusive Education to consider online radicalisation of children and young people
  • BISSR did not engage directly with children and young people. Zero Tolerance have created a briefing to accompany BISSR which can be shared with working group
  • members noted that this feels like a good moment to publish guidance on how schools can take proactive action. Process of feedback will be important to determine to what extent it meets the needs that are expressed in BISSR
  • Education Scotland noted that the Mentors for Violence Prevention programme has limited capacity and is aimed only at secondary schools. There is some exploratory work on upper primary but this is limited by capacity within the programme. There are very useful resources available but limitations need to be remembered.

Action: Secretariat to share NASUWT parliamentary briefing with members.

Draft of the Gender Based Violence in Schools Framework

The Chair introduced the full final draft of the GBV Framework. The Framework has been edited in line with comments and suggestions from the working group meeting in September. It has been considered by COSLA Children and Young People’s Board and is currently in internal Scottish Government clearance process.

The Chair noted that minor clarifications in the text can be made by the working group at this stage.

Comments received from the working group include:

  • two typos on page 10 and page 27
  • Education Scotland suggested a possibility of organising supporting events alongside the launch of the Framework; perhaps twilight sessions for practitioners. Scottish Government will engage with Education Scotland to take this forward
  • the Equally Safe bulletin may be a good opportunity to raise awareness of publication. Scottish Government VAWG member will share bulletin with the working group. Secretariat to work with SG VAWG to share information in bulletin at publication
  • it was noted that the lines on restorative practice were not included in this draft. Secretariat confirmed that this was in error. Members noted need to ensure that reference to restorative practice is consistent with other policies and guidance. Use of restorative practice is very common in schools
  • on the section on equal access to sport and PE, there is some governance around sports which require that teams are not mixed. A reference to UK guidance on sport safety may be a useful addition.
  • the group had previously discussed creating a report for children and young people who were involved in the feedback sessions. This should be kept on the agenda for post publication
  • there are helpful references to school nurses throughout the document. Child protection and child vulnerability is also a top priority for school nurses. This could be added for clarity
  • the Equally Safe delivery plan is planned for Spring 2024. There will be engagement around training for professionals across sectors. There is a consideration about what the working group may wish to do in terms of implementation, as part of the Equally Safe strategy. Scottish Government Support and Wellbeing Unit confirmed that they would be happy to be part of any planning for this
  • there are lines about ensuring that staff are supported, but the lines do not mention supervision which can be helpful. This can be added for clarity.

Scottish Government confirmed that they will proceed to set up the launch and publication of the Framework, and will notify the working group in advance. Scottish Government will also provide support with communications which members can share with their own networks should they wish.

The Chair noted thanks to all working group members for their work in getting to this stage. The Chair noted that the Framework is a great achievement and expressed thanks to all members who worked hard to reach this point.

Action: Scottish Government to engage with Education Scotland on possible accompanying twilight sessions.

Action: Scottish Government VAWG member will share bulletin with the working group.

Action: Secretariat to work with Scottish Government VAWG to share information on publication of GBV Framework in VAWG bulletin.


The Chair confirmed that group will meet again at least once following publication to consider longer-term plans and implementation.

It was noted that the Scottish Government Programme for Government 2023/2024 announced a Ministerial Group on the Equally Safe strategy, which will also consider education. There will therefore be more work done on Equally Safe governance moving forward.

The Chair thanked members for their contributions and confirmed that the Secretariat will be in touch regarding publication plans. 

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