Head Teacher Taskforce on Exclusion minutes: June 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the Headteachers Taskforce on Exclusion on 27 June 2023

Attendees and apologies

  • Jenny Gilruth MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills
  • Brechin High School
  • Douglas Academy
  • Glenrothes High School
  • Hazelwood ASL School
  • Heathfield Primary School
  • John Paul Academy
  • Mearns Castle High School
  • Oban High School
  • Saracen Primary School
  • Smithycroft Secondary School
  • Stonelaw High School
  • CELCIS, University of Strathclyde
  • Director of Learning, Scottish Government
  • Support and Wellbeing Unit, Scottish Government



  • Ness Castle Primary School
  • St Kentigern’s Academy
  • Preston Lodge High School
  • Royal High School

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed participants to the meeting, which would take place under Chatham House rules. Introductions were made.

The Chair highlighted that the purpose of the meeting was:

  • To have an open discussion about how the head teachers present view the current picture of relationships and behaviour in schools
  • To discuss practice in relation to addressing behaviour, particularly exclusion and the broader concept of consequences.
  • To provide insight into areas which we intend to be a focus of wider events in the future.

Input from CELCIS on Virtual Schools Head Teacher Network

CELCIS provided an overview of the work of the Virtual Schools Head Teacher (VSHT) Network to promote inclusion and reduce the exclusion of care-experienced young people.

The VSHT Network had recently run a survey with its members to understand practice relating to exclusion of care-experienced young people within these local authorities. The findings of the survey would be published in the coming months, and CELCIS presented some initial themes emerging from the analysis.

Challenges and opportunities in promoting positive behaviour and relationships, and the use of exclusion 

The Chair highlighted the Scottish Government guidance in place, which sets exclusion as a last resort in the context of de-escalation, prevention and positive behaviour and relationships approaches. However, there appears to be a view that headteachers are prevented from excluding, and that therefore there are no consequences available for pupils and few opportunities to change behaviour.

The Chair welcomed thoughts from members on the challenges and opportunities in promoting positive behaviour and relationships, and the use of exclusion. A range of comments were made under the following themes:

  • school approaches to exclusion
  • national policy on positive relationships and behaviour
  • school culture and ethos
  • alternatives to exclusions
  • teacher training and support
  • capacity

Discussion on recording and monitoring bullying and behaviour

The Chair highlighted that in 2019, the Scottish Government introduced a consistent and uniform approach to recording and monitoring incidents of bullying across all schools in Scotland. HMIe published a thematic review of this national approach in February 2023.

HM Inspectors reported that not all schools are using the nationally agreed process to record incidents of bullying and that monitoring of incidents of bullying is not yet consistent across schools. HM Inspectors set out clearly a need to improve arrangements for the recording and monitoring of bullying and ensure robust and consistent analysis of bullying incidents are recorded. This will help schools to identify trends or themes in bullying and support planning for improvements to both prevention and intervention in tackling bullying.

The Chair acknowledged there is a varied picture of the use of SEEMiS nationally. The group discussed the findings of HMIe’s report.


The Chair summarised the following points from the meeting:

  • there should be a shared understanding about the purpose of exclusions.
  • a more strategic approach about what exclusion entails may be required.
  • it may be helpful if the term ‘exclusion’ were to be reviewed in the context of an inclusive policy approach.
  • a flexible approach when using the curriculum was beneficial.
  • the role of the education authority is important in supporting schools.
  • there was a need to consider the training teachers receive to support relationships and behaviour.
  • more consideration of mechanisms available before exclusion would be welcomed.

The group agreed that it would be helpful to meet again after summer recess to continue discussions.

Action: SG to arrange another meeting of the Headteacher Taskforce.



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