Gender Based Violence in Schools Working Group minutes: June 2023

Minutes from the meeting on 27 June 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Rape Crisis Scotland (Chair)
  • Educational Institute Scotland (EIS)
  • Education Scotland
  • National Associations of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT)
  • Scottish Council of Independent Schools
  • Scottish Government – Child Protection
  • Scottish Government – Equality in Education (GETEL)
  • Scottish Government – Health and Wellbeing Unit
  • Scottish Women’s Aid


  • Association of Directors of Education Scotland (ADES)
  • National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)
  • Scottish Government – Community Safety Unit
  • University of Glasgow
  • Zero Tolerance

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and noted apologies.

Minutes from 09 May meeting (paper one)

The minutes were approved and the Group noted contentment for them to be published on the SG website.

Engagement (paper two)

Scottish Women’s Aid updated on engagement with young people, including feedback on the scenarios. RCS also summarised some feedback from other sessions. It was confirmed that outcomes of CYP engagement will be written up and shared with the group.

It was suggested that quotes from the sessions could be included in the framework, for example quotes discussing double standards around uniform. Secretariat requested that consent to use quotes be noted on the feedback reports from organisations. Organisations would check with CYP group leaders before sharing feedback.

Possibility was flagged that comments from children and young people may raise issues which the group has not yet considered, in which case the group may need to reconvene before progressing.

It was suggested that a summary of the CYP engagement feedback be shared with the School Uniform Working Group. SG noted it has made links to that Group and can pass feedback on.

The Group were content with the forward plan for engagement with other organisations or individuals. This will include links to the likes of National Advisory Council on Women and Girls and Scottish Government’s Anti Racism in Education Programme. Other nominations were groups of teachers in primary and secondary schools. NASUWT noted that they would need support with engagement from SG. SG confirmed that a letter of comfort will be actioned as soon as possible and that they would coordinate overall engagement. In doing so, the scope should be clear this would not be formal consultation but an opportunity to ensure draft framework is addressing relevant points appropriately. There should also be clarity on framing of engagement to ensure relevant partners are able to contribute effectively. Consideration will be given to using a feedback form to support engagement and to frame request succinctly.

It was confirmed that the SG Secretariat would plan, co-ordinate, and carry out engagement with critical friends and would update the working group accordingly.

EIS Gender Issues Working Group and Equality Committee are keen to input after the summer. EIS noted that they will launch podcasts about misogyny in educational establishments in August. This could be used as a potential hook for further engagement.

PSE Lead Officers and ASLO Network were also suggested. If needed, specific sections could be sent to these Groups for review.

SEEMiS were able to provide input on recording and monitoring section. SEEMiS have already confirmed GBV incidents can be recorded on the system.

In bringing together a Critical Friends List, education, practitioners, parents and others with intersectional experience should form the nucleus of this list. There should be consideration of any gaps once the final list is compiled and how expectation in engagement from various groups can be managed appropriately.

Action – Group members should email any suggestions for list of critical friends to SG by the end of the week. Secretariat will compile list and share with group. 

Action – SG will coordinate engagement with critical friends.

Action – SG to share relevant finding from CYP engagement with School Uniform Working Group

National Framework – scenarios – (paper three) for discussion

The Chair noted thanks for comments received on the refreshed drafts. It was noted that comments from Child Protection colleagues will be incorporated into next version.

A new structure has been proposed, which groups the overarching themes of guidance and simplifies the scenarios. The Group was content with the changes made here.

Clarity was requested on inclusion of existing school-based policies and where responsibilities lie in support of school staff. Clarity was also requested on what detail should be recorded around a disclosure. This may require further clarification to highlight use of local policies and procedures in every scenario, and may be something to seek advice on as part of further engagement. Some of this will be picked up under comments already submitted by Child Protection colleagues.

It was suggested text be reframed so it relates to behaviour being portrayed by children of any age. Text should also draw out levels of responsibility and where they lie within local protocols. Links should be made to any procedures or policies already established so that any incidents are recorded appropriately, ensuring that GBV is embedded in existing school policies and procedures. Any suggestions on wording should be made to SG.

Action – members’ suggested wording or amendments to draft Scenarios section to be submitted to SG by end of week.

Concern was noted around some of the terminology used in Scenarios which may need further explanation or clarification, such as clarification around prevalence of abuse on gender non-conforming pupils. Further clarity will be offered on points around coercive control through highlighting existing resources.

Action – revised points around coercive control to be offered.

It was noted that it is not the responsibility of teachers to have knowledge of what constitutes criminal behaviour or determining if behaviour is criminal. The framing around mentions of criminal behaviours in the Framework needs further clarification to take onus off teachers and to emphasise the use of school policies and protocol, including child protection procedures. Comments offered by Child Protection colleagues have noted schools would inform Social Work colleagues if there is an incident which may constitute criminal behaviour. Clarification has also been offered in written comments from Child Protection Colleagues around the age of criminal responsibility. Social Work Professional Advisers have offered to engage directly around these particular comments. Child Protection comments will be incorporated in the next round of drafting.

Action – Secretariat to clarify this section of Scenarios draft.


Date of next meeting to be confirmed but likely to be after summer holidays and engagement with critical friends.

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