Gender Based Violence in Schools Working Group Minutes: February 2023

Minutes from the meeting on 28 February 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Rape Crisis Scotland (RCS) - Chair
  • Association of Directors of Education Scotland (ADES)
  • Education Scotland
  • Education Scotland – Improving Gender Balance and Equalities
  • Educational Institute Scotland (EIS)
  • National Associations of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT)
  • Scottish Council of Independent Schools
  • Scottish Women’s Aid
  • Stop it Now
  • Zero Tolerance
  • Scottish Government – Equality in Education (GETEL)
  • Scottish Government – Health and Wellbeing Unit
  • Scottish Government - Child protection


  • Glasgow Caledonian University
  • National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)
  • Time for Inclusive Education (TIE)
  • Scottish Government – Community Safety Unit (MVP)
  • Scottish Government – VAWG

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies

The chair welcomed members and noted apologies.

Minutes and actions from 31 January (paper 1)

The chair advised that there was one outstanding action from the previous meeting that would be addressed later in the agenda. All other actions were complete or ongoing.

The chair requested updates on the following actions:

  • NASUWT to speak to Gender Issues Working Group regarding creating a video for section H and update the group at the next meeting on 28 February 2023 – this action had been taken to the policy committee who agreed in principle and would consider how this could be progressed. The committee had also highlighted the need for engagement on the framework prior to publication and it was agreed this would be discussed under item 7 - Ongoing
  • The structure of section G would be revisited once the overall structure of the framework was confirmed - Ongoing
  • Members to bring suggestions for engagement to the next meeting in February – To be discussed under item 7

All actions from the previous meeting that are complete can be found in appendix A.

All members were content for the January minutes to be published.

Action: SG to publish minutes to the webpage by the next meeting of 28 March 2023.

National Framework – sections E/F and H – for discussion (papers 2 and 3)

The chair advised that there had been a significant amount of time spent on section E/F by the chairs following the discussions at the December and January meetings.

At the December and January meetings it was agreed that changes were to be made to cut down on the length, to consider the overall approach and key takeaway messages within the universal approaches section to make clear how schools can be addressing gender inequality.

EIS highlighted some potential changes to the definitions section, particularly in referencing safeguarding.

Action: EIS to send in suggested wording to the definitions section by Tuesday 14 March 2023.

There was a discussion around the use of pop up boxes in the document and how these wee helpful and broke up the text. The different functions of some of the boxes were highlighted, and there was discussion about using different design elements to differentiate the functions.

Action: SG to review pop up boxes already in the document and suggest different design/colours to ensure this stands out by Tuesday 14 March 2023.

A group member highlighted the identified actions within the universal approach were lacking specific references to learning engagement. It was agreed this should be included. .

Action: Education Scotland to send in wording around learning engagement by Tuesday 14 March 2023.

A group member highlighted the reference to ESAS and how this was overarching and did not naturally fit under only one of four headings. It was suggested this discussion might be better placed earlier within the document and then be referenced again in this section. The chairs agreed to discuss positioning and update the document.

Action: Chairs to discuss the placing of ESAS in the document and make and suggested changes to the document by Tuesday 14 March 2023.

There was a discussion around accountability in the context of GIRFEC/relational approaches and the language used in schools. It was discussed how a school needs to assess the child’s needs to ensure they are supported to be a functioning healthy member of the school community, including understanding and addressing underlying factors. 

There were also comments from the group that the perception of many people experiencing GBV in schools was that the current approach is not working well. It was therefore agreed that the framework should include further discussion on how schools’ responsibilities and use of approaches such as wellbeing assessments should be approached using a Gender Based Violence lens, to ensure all children and young people are looked after safe and well.

NASUWT highlighted their FAQ on UNCRC as useful to this discussion. This document looks at how rights can be balanced when responding to particular situations.

A copy of the document was sent to members along with a copy of the minutes.

The chair asked members of the group to look at wording around accountability and make changes to reflect the discussion.

Action: Zero Tolerance Scotland, Education Scotland and EIS to work on wording re accountability/GIRFEC.

EIS raised suggested a number of drafting changes within the targeted approaches section relating to safeguarding. The chair requested that any suggestions should be sent under track changes for review.

Action: EIS to send any suggested changes on section E/F by Tuesday 14 March 2023.

The chair explained that while conscious of the length of this section, and the framework overall, members had previously worked on collating quotes from young people that could be included to illustrate particular points. The group agreed quotes should be included to keep the learner and young people’s experiences as a focus of the document..

Action: Chairs to discuss, agree and draft what quotes from children and young people could be included to illustrate particular points, and these would be included in future drafts. 

The chair explained that there had been discussions at previous groups around this section benefiting from a visual summary (such as flowchart) to assist identification of suggested actions. It was agreed at previous meetings that this would be looked at when the approach to the section was finalised. The group agreed that a flowchart would be beneficial for the targeted approach section and RCS agreed to take this forward. RCS invited members to get in touch if they would like to be involved or provide feedback on the flowchart. 

Action: Rape Crisis Scotland to create a flowchart summarising the targeted approaches discussion by Tuesday 14 March 2023.

The group then had a further discussion around the length of section E/F and whether it should remain as one section or split back into two. There was reference to the relevance of the triangle at the start of the combined section to both sections and that splitting this may not work. It was suggested that the section should stay as one but split into sub-sections A and B, which could be separately hyperlinked from the contents. It was agreed this approach should be tried for the next meeting.

Action: SG to better differentiate the introduction, universal approach and targeted approach sections within section E/F by Tuesday 14 March 2023.

Action: All members to send any wording for contributions and changes on section E/F by Tuesday 14 March 2023.

Section H – Monitoring, recording and evaluation

The chair explained that a significant amount of redrafting had been done on section H following the last meeting, including expanding the discussion on purpose and use of recording and monitoring, and aligning the evaluation section with the structure of section E/F.

There was discussion on a number of drafting amendments, and the following changes were agreed:

  • the sentence referring to self-evaluation would be removed
  • the section on independent schools should be removed but reference made in the recording incidents section that some schools have different recording systems, including independent schools
  • reference to visitor should be changed to unknown person
  • amendments should be made to the discussion on intersectionality to rephrase the wording on recording reasons

Amendments should be made to the discussion on pastoral care notes to reflect it may be sufficient to include a reference to additional notes held by management, which would also avoid the duplication of recording.

Action: EIS to send in suggested wording on the use of pastoral care notes in SEEMiS by Tuesday 14 March 2023.

Action: Education Scotland to send in amendments to discussion of recording intersectionality by Tuesday 14 March.

Action: SG to make amendments relating to self-evaluation, visitors and independent schools. 

There was a discussion around the publication of the ‘Approaches to recording and monitoring incidents of bullying in schools’ document and what learning could be taken from that. The SG advised that they will be engaging with stakeholders and SEEMiS to address the concerns raised in the report. These discussions would likely not fit with the timescales for publication of the framework, and so consideration would be given to how the framework could better support schools to record and monitor behaviours. It was agreed that visuals of the SEEMiS system would be a helpful addition.

Action: SG to consider changes to the section in light of the findings of the thematic inspection of approaches to recording and monitoring bullying incidents in schools.

The new approach to the evaluation section was discussed and the following amendments were agreed:

  • the introduction setting out how theory around evaluating progress should be removed as this was available elsewhere
  • the table should be standardised to be either questions or statements
  • how learners could be included within evaluation should be included within each element of the table

Action: Education Scotland to submit references to learners within the evaluation table by Tuesday 14th March.

Action: SG to remove introduction and standardise approach to the table.

Action: Group members to send any other amendments by Tuesday 14th March.

Staff Section (paper 4)

A draft of this section was shared at the January meeting and comments invited from members by 14 February. Minimal comments had been received and these were reflected in the updated paper. 

Due to time constraints the chair asked the group if they were broadly happy with this section. No further comments were received. The chair advised that should members have any additional these should be submitted via email with track changes.

Action: Members to send all wording for contributions and changes for staff section by Tuesday 14 March 2023.

Scenarios (paper 5)

The group had agreed the focus of scenarios at the January meeting and allocated drafting between group members. These scenarios had been received, with the exception of the primary scenario which was still being worked on and would be circulated with the next draft.

Due to time constraints, these scenarios were not discussed in detail, but the following amendments were agreed:

  • the general approach to the scenarios would be to summarise the scenario, then outline actions relating to the person affected, the person displaying GBV behaviours, wider people affected, and recording and monitoring
  • the scenarios should focus on targeted responses and reference to universal approaches should be removed, and instead replaced by an overarching statement at the start of the scenarios that responding to a particular incident should trigger a review of the universal approaches, ensuring any changes were implemented sensitively and appropriately
  • yo simplify the approach, consideration would be given to whether any of the scenarios could build on one another, for example addressing what additional action would be required should the scenario include issues of intersectionality

Actions: Group members to submit amendments to the scenarios, following the suggested structure by Tuesday 14 March 2023.

Action: Zero Tolerance Scotland to draft overarching statement regarding universal approaches by Tuesday 14 March 2023.

Action: Education Scotland to send suggested wording on building intersectionality as an additional element to a scenario by Tuesday 14 March 2023.

Action: Chairs to review scenarios and standardise approach for circulation for the next meeting.

National Framework – sections G and I

Papers were issued for sections G and I for the January meeting. It was agreed that these sections would be reviewed at the final stages of writing the document and therefore were not circulated for discussion.

Members of the group were reminded about the ongoing work for these sections and asked to continue to review these and submit any additions or comments to the secretariat.

Action: Members to send all wording for contributions and changes for sections G and I to the SG by Tuesday 14 March 2023.


The chair highlighted that the group will soon need to engage with relevant groups/people on the draft, to ensure the content is relevant and useful. At the last meeting members were invited to consider whose views should be sought and how group members could support this.

The chairs identified different categories that would be helpful to engage with for this process. There were:

  • practitioners – teachers (primary and secondary)
  • practitioners – GBV specialists (ie rape crisis, women’s aid workers)
  • organisations who can speak to intersectionality
  • children and Young People who have experience of GBV
  • parents and carers

Due to time constraints, there was not detailed discussion of plans, and it was agreed that sufficient time would be allocated at the March meeting. Engagement would take place sometime following that meeting once the draft was at an appropriate stage. Group members were asked to give further thought to how they could support engagement. 

Action for group: Members to consider what interests should be engaged with and how they could help to support this, for discussion at the next meeting on 28 March.

It was agreed that members who were looking to engage with children and young people should have an offline meeting together to discuss how this might be taken forward.

Action: Zero Tolerance Scotland to set up a meeting with Rape Crisis Scotland, ADES and Woman’s Aid to discuss approach to engagement with children and young people.


Harmful Sexual Behaviour Working Group (HSB)

The Harmful Sexual Behaviour Working Group met on 8 February and each of the subgroups (Education, Research, Positive Sexual Behaviours) provided progress updates on their respective workstreams. One of the key pieces of work being delivered is the HSB audit tool being piloted by NSPCC in three local authorities; this work is being spearheaded by the Research subgroup. Given the prominence of this project and that other recommendations (that were originally part of the group’s Terms of Reference) have been implemented, the HSB group will meet alongside the delivery of key phases of the NSPCC pilot. Colleagues also agreed the importance of this group as a valuable space to discuss emerging issues in the HSB area. We are exploring whether there should be a practitioners group that not only exchanges emerging issues but also best practice in responding to HSB.

Gender Equality Taskforce in Education and Learning

The next meeting of the Gender Equality Taskforce, chaired by the Cabinet Secretary, will take place on 20 April. There were a number of actions for the Secretariat to meet members individually to discuss membership, work going forward and most of these meetings have taken place with only a couple outstanding, which will happen before 20 April. Professor Hayward (Review of Qualifications and Assessment) is keen to undertake a dedicated session with GETEL members as some of the thinking emerges from the consultation exercise she has been undertaking. GETEL Secretariat will shortly confirm the date with members, likely to be later on in March.


No other business was raised due to time constraints. Zero Tolerance Scotland would raise matters via correspondence.

The chair thanked members and closed meeting. The next meeting has been arranged for 28 March.

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