Gender Based Violence in Schools Working Group minutes: July 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the Gender Based Violence in Schools Working Group on 26 July 2022.

Attendees and apologies

In attendance:

  • Scottish Government – Health and Wellbeing Unit (Chair)
  • Education Scotland
  • Educational Institute Scotland (EIS)
  • National Associations of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT)
  • Rape Crisis
  • National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)
  • Scottish Council of Independent Schools
  • Scottish Women’s Aid
  • Time for Inclusive Education (TIE)
  • Zero Tolerance
  • Scottish Government – Community Safety Unit
  • Scottish Government – Child protection


  • Scottish Government – Equality in Education (GETEL)
  • Association of Directors of Education Scotland (ADES)
  • Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS)
  • Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Stop It Now Scotland
  • Scottish Government – Early Learning and Childcare
  • Scottish Government – Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG)

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies

The chair welcomed everyone and noted apologies.

The chair welcomed the new Scottish Government Health and Wellbeing team leader to her first meeting of the working group.

Minutes and actions from 3 May meeting (paper 1)

The chair provided an update on the actions from the previous meeting.

Below are a list of actions from the previous meeting. 

  • Scottish Government to publish minutes from the March meeting on web page – complete
  • NSPCC to provide an update on the audit of research on Local authorities response to HSB, if available, at the next meeting – Complete, Provided as a written update with papers
  • COSLA to pick up on the actions referencing local authorities in the action plan - SG to request update from COSLA
  • members to contact the SG if they are having any issues accessing the Teams Channel after working through the Microsoft Teams document provided - complete
  • members who require colleagues to be added to the Teams Channel to work on the National Framework to contact SG to set this up - complete
  • SG to look at the expected outcomes in the Action Plan and bring to the next meeting on 26 July 2022 - complete (paper 4)
  • SG to update Safer Lives: Changed Lives link in the National Framework - complete
  • following the meeting, it was agreed that ‘advice’ would be removed and reference only to ‘guidance’ would be used - complete
  • Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland agreed to take forward work on examples of young people experiencing GBV, and where it might sit in the Framework – ongoing, roll on to next meeting
  • NSPCC and Stop It Now to work together on the wording around child sexual abuse - complete
  • COSLA to update wording under ‘Impacts of GBV’ on the importance of this document for all genders - complete
  • Rape Crisis Scotland to include Everyday Heroes Project in section on CYP voice - complete
  • members to review how intersectionality is integrated within the document or look at wording for a standalone section - complete
  • members to share any recent research that could be used in the National Framework with the SG - ongoing
  • SG to add the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (1993) to the policy section in the National Framework - complete
  • SG – VWAG to consider where Baroness Kennedys document could fit into the Framework make additions as required - ongoing
  • Stop It Now to add suggestions on values and attitudes to the National Framework on the Teams channel - ongoing
  • members to confirm dates they could complete actions 3-6 in the action plan which their names are assigned to by Friday 13 May 2022 - we will cover this under agenda item 6

Members were content with the minutes from the previous meeting which can now be published.

Action: Scottish Government to publish minutes from the May meeting on web page.

National Framework – sections A, B and C – for review (paper 2)

The chair provided an overview on the process of how the online document will be reviewed going forward. This includes ensuring it flows, ensuring the sections all link and also ensuring the paper is written in a single voice prior to papers coming out to the group. SG will do this throughout the process. Group members will have the opportunity to ensure the document flows and has all the information required when reviewing each section throughout the process. All members were encouraged to update the document with draft suggestions into the body of the document recognising there will be multiple opportunities for the group to review and agree each section.

The chair highlighted that there’s a lot of text with references within the document and asked how the group would prefer these to be displayed. The group had no preference. The chair agreed to look into the option of either including hyperlinks or adding a separate reference at the end.

Action: Scottish Government to consider either including references as hyperlinks or as a separate reference at the end of the National Framework and update document as required.

The chair discussed section A, reminding members the framework is for schools and education authorities, and so information will need to be short and sharp due to limited time schools have.

The group had further discussion on sections A, B and C that have been drafted and the following comments were made:

Section A

  • there are a lot of references provided within the drafting, the evidence needs to be summarised into guidance and what the National Framework would be looking for schools to do. Providing evidence alone won’t affect a change
  • it was reiterated that PSE is not universal and not all young people will have access to the programme. Recommendations from other pieces of work should not be included directly in the guidance document, but should instead be added to the agenda for discussion for the working group. The guidance should explain how the framework is responding to these recommendations and not set out recommendations alone
  • it was agreed to add UNCRC at the beginning regarding human rights approach
  • in order to ensure the guidance reflected a whole school approach, members discussed including lines reflecting that school staff may themselves be experiencing GBV. It was agreed that lines will be added to the section to clarify how the whole school approach works
  • some of the research included had a small sample size, and consideration should be given to how this research should be presented/framed appropriately

A member of the group suggested having separate sections for primary/secondary/special schools but starting with a secondary based resource. The SG agreed to consider.

Action: Scottish Government agreed to look into the original scope of the working group to establish the focus of the National Framework

There was a discussion around the policy section of the document, there was a suggestion that this would be better placed to sit under ‘Why responding to Gender Based Violence in schools is important’.

Action: Scottish Government to move ‘policy’ section to sit under ‘Why responding to Gender Based Violence in schools is important’ section.

Section B

  • it was agreed the drafting of the ‘What does GBV mean’ ‘should steer away from using the word violence in the first sentence (as it isn’t just violence). There needs to be a broader focus to have a more rounded perspective, also making clear that GBV is not just violence against woman and girls
  • there should be an explanation on how GBV is defined in the introduction
  • the Scottish Government confirmed that there are direct links with both RAMBIS and SAGRABIS groups

The group also discussed the forms of GBV and if bullying should be included. Members supported the removal of the word bullying due to misreporting, reporting and recording. However, there was a suggestion to check the wording from equally safe to ensure consistency. If wording is different from equally safe, a section should be added to say why. The National Framework would need to be clear what was expected to be recorded.

Action: SG to look at wording in the Equally Safe and compare to the National Framework to ensure consistency. 

There was a discussion around the final line in the Voice of Children and Young People section. There was a concern that the drafting implied that the increased likelihood of disclosure was an aspiration rather than a potential consequence that staff should be aware of. The drafting needed to be tweaked to make clearer that staff should be aware of potential for disclosures to be made and guidance added about what to do as a result of disclosures. The group decided to revisit this to look at what else should be added on what to do when Children and Young People do disclose personal information during discussions.

Action: Members to review sections A and B in the National Framework and make tracked changes to the text (rather than adding comments) by Friday 12 August. 

Section C

The group discussed section C and it was agreed that this section repeats other parts of the document and was not required. Due to the fact that the document has already been set out, it was agreed that a blank section C would be retained so the other sections don’t change and this will be removed in the final version of the document.

Action: Scottish Government to remove the wording from section C in the National Framework Draft and leave a blank section C until the final document where it will be removed and restructured.

National Framework – sections D and H – for discussion (paper 3)

The chair advised sections D and H of the National Framework had been drafted for discussion. The chair invited group members to make changes in the Teams channel or on a word document in tracked changes.

Members discussed section D and agreed that the paragraph required more contributions and input from external organisations. NASUWT requested that the section includes information on non-binary pupils and that they would send an email with their contribution on the wording for section D. It was agreed in the meeting that the Scottish Government would work closely with TIE and NASUWT prior to engaging with Equality Network. It was also discussed that the last paragraph refers to sexuality but this should change to sexual orientation.

The group discussed section H and it was agreed that the group required more time to reflect on this therefore section H will be revisited at the next meeting on 4 October.

The group discussed how section H would need to address what the National Framework is asking school to do as a result of this guidance. They discussed what schools would do around policy and practice as well as recording incidents. It was suggested that the introduction should include some is framed around the purpose of the guidance: what schools are being asked to do with it, for example record incidents and addressing underlying causes through CfE etc.

The chair reminded the group the aim is to have final sign off on sections D and H at the 4 October meeting.

Action: Members to make and changes or amendments to sections D in the National Framework and make tracked changes to the text (rather than adding comments) by Friday 12 August. 

Action: Members to make and changes or amendments to sections H in the National Framework and make tracked changes to the text (rather than adding comments) by Friday 20 September. 

National Framework – sections E and F – discuss next steps

Sections E and F on prevention and intervention will be discussed at the meeting on 4 October. The chair invited members to begin looking at these sections now, and to produce a first draft by 20 September.

There is a note in the action plan (paper 4) of what sections members have previously noted their interests against.

Action: Members are invited to begin looking at sections E and F of the National Framework now, and to produce a first draft via Teams or email by 20 September. 

Development of resources (paper 4)

The chair introduced Paper 4 to the group. This is an updated action plan which has been amended to remove any duplication and streamline to make it more accessible for members to refer to. 

Actions 3-5 were highlighted which are around the audit, review and potential development of resources. These actions will inform particular sections of the national framework. The chair advised that these actions will be discussed at the meeting on 4 October, with a final update provided at the November meeting.

This paper allows members to have an overview of the contributions required along with dates these would be due for completion. This allows advance notice for members to plan in work required.

Members confirmed that they were content with the proposed approach.

Action: Members were invited to look at existing materials in the Updated Action Plan document and feedback to SG if there is anything that should be added. 


The following updates were provided from the Harmful Sexual Behaviours (HSB) Delivery Group and the Gender Equality Taskforce in Education and Learning:

Harmful Sexual Behaviours (HSB) Delivery Group

The delivery group last met on 9 June. The group now has a new chair, the new team leader (TL) in Child Protection Unit. The TL will also be joining GBVWG meetings in the future.

The chair of the Assessment and Interventions sub-group, gave a detailed overview of the guidance matrix that sub-group has been developing.

The matrix is being developed for front line practitioners so that they have access to information on best practice in responding to the range of sexual behaviours that constitute harmful sexual behaviour. Sub-group includes colleagues with backgrounds in social work, health, and psychology, across community based services, as well as residential and secure care and custody. The next draft will be shared with the Scottish Government at the end of August. The group then plans to run focus groups with a range of professional groups (including education) to test its utility in different contexts before wider scrutiny on content from October/November onwards.

The next time the HSB education sub-group meet, they will be discussing the draft plans for professional learning for education staff at an informed and skilled level.

The group were unfortunately unable to meet last term due to other commitments. The lead of this sub-group has been linking with the lead of the Assessment and Interventions sub-group, in relation to the guidance matrix. There has been some discussion about the language used within the Hackett Continuum, a model that demonstrates the range of sexual behaviours presented by children and young people, in relation to the Scottish context of GBV.

The Research sub-group is leading on the HSB audit tool pilot, and a more detailed written update from Alison Wales has been provided to this group. In summary, the NSPCC are now ready to start work on the pilot with Highland, East Lothian and Midlothian Child Protection Committees. The next step is to plan the timelines for delivery of the audit within each CPC, and SG will meet with NSPCC to discuss this in the coming weeks.

Gender Equality Taskforce in Education and Learning

At the last meeting of this group, the update outlined a brief history of the Taskforce as well as its position at the beginning of May. 

At that point, the three reports (The Collective, the Children’s Parliament and the Scottish Youth Parliament), draft theory of change model and associated recommendations had just been shared with Taskforce members for their consideration. The group met on 16 May to discuss the findings, to outline their individual thoughts and responses to them and to begin to identify where there were positions around which they could coalesce. The reports and the discussions in the meeting as well as the subsequent discussions which the Secretariat has had with some members, have revealed some very thoughtful and considered responses, but also some quite divergent proposals for taking this work forward. However, there are a few areas where the thinking on how to proceed is similar, such as the need to use this point as an opportunity for a re-set, to attach more leadership and for Equally Safe to be better articulated as a pillar of the Taskforce’s ambitions. 

The responses have been summarised in a paper which also includes five areas for potential agreement. This was shared with the Taskforce at the end of June. There is a keenness to agree these and publish the three reports and way forward once schools and parliament have returned in September.


No other business was raised.

Date of the next meeting: Tuesday 4 October 13.30 – 15.00.

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