LGBTI Inclusive Education Working Group: report to the Scottish Ministers

Group's recommendations to the Scottish Ministers.

1. Introduction

The LGBTI Inclusive Education Working Group recognises the efforts of some schools and local authorities to be increasingly LGBTI inclusive and values the roles of the third sector in supporting this work. We recognise more work needs to be done. This suite of recommendations represents the culmination of collaborative work between members of the LGBTI Inclusive Education Working Group from May 2017 until August 2018. These recommendations are in response to concerns raised by a wide variety of LGBT organisations and campaigners, and provide the Scottish Government with a policy framework towards implementing LGBTI inclusive education in all Scottish schools. Work associated with this suite of recommendations will begin at the earliest opportunity.

These recommendations use the acronym LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) to refer collectively to the three distinctive equality areas of sexual orientation, gender identity and variations of sex characteristics. It is recognised that some of the recommendations may be more relevant to sexual orientation and gender identity than to variations of sex characteristics. It is also recognised that equality and inclusion work for variations of sex characteristics (intersex) is at a much earlier stage of development than for sexual orientation and gender identity and may need further identification of specific approaches.

These recommendations are presented thematically.

Legislation and National Framework

Under the Equality Act 2010, the Scottish Ministers, SQA and Education Authorities are subject to the general equality duty, which requires due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations in the exercise of their functions.

As listed authorities they are also subject to the specific duties imposed by The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 (As amended).

SQA is Scotland’s national body for qualifications (other than degrees) and its main functions are set out in the Education (Scotland) Act 1996.

SQA’s core purpose is to set and maintain standards in education and training through the qualifications and assessment that are delivered in schools, in colleges, and in workplace learning. SQA’s accreditation function sets and maintains standards for awarding bodies and the accredited qualifications in Scotland, such as Scottish Vocational Qualifications.

The public sector equality duty provides the framework for SQA to positively contribute to a more equal society through advancing equality and good relations in its day-to-day business.

These responsibilities set a clear expectation that public services must treat everyone with dignity and respect, and must prevent discrimination and promote equality. SQA aims to ensure its services are accessible to all, whoever they are, wherever they are and whatever their needs.

Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) is designed to achieve a transformation in education in Scotland by providing a coherent, more flexible and enriched curriculum from 3 to 18. The term curriculum is understood to mean everything that is planned for children and young people throughout their education, not just what happens in the classroom.

CfE includes four contexts for learning:

  • Curriculum areas and subjects
  • Interdisciplinary learning
  • Ethos and life of the school
  • Opportunities for personal achievement.

The curriculum has two stages: the broad general education (from the early years to the end of S3) and the senior phase (S4 to S6). The broad general education has five levels (early, first, second, third and fourth). The senior phase is designed to build on the experiences and outcomes of the broad general education, and to allow young people to take qualifications and courses that suit their abilities and interests.

Health and Wellbeing is one of the eight curricular areas in CfE. Its substantial importance is reflected in its position at the centre of the curriculum and at the heart of children’s learning. Along with literacy and numeracy it is one of the three core areas that are the responsibility of all staff in the school.

All adults who work in schools have a responsibility to ensure the mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing of the children and young people in their care. The ‘Responsibility of All’ defines each practitioner’s role in establishing open, positive, supportive relationships across the school community. Children and young people will feel that they are listened to and feel secure in their ability to discuss sensitive aspects of their lives. It includes promoting a climate in which children and young people feel safe and secure and modelling behaviour which promotes health and wellbeing and encouraging this in others. Educators can do this through a whole school approach using learning and teaching methodologies which promote effective learning and by being sensitive and responsive to the wellbeing of each child and young person.

Learning in Health and Wellbeing is designed to ensure children and young people develop the knowledge and understanding, skills, capabilities and attributes which they need for mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing. Health and Wellbeing is not a single subject or class but is organised into six areas: Mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing; Planning for choices and changes; Physical education, physical activity and sport; Food and health; Substance misuse; and Relationships, sexual health and parenthood (RSHP). Some areas are the responsibility of all staff in a school. Others have a specific focus, with links to other health and wellbeing organisers and other curriculum areas.

The existing RSHP guidance was published in 2014 and is statutory guidance under Section 56 of the Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc Act 2000. It replaced the earlier guidance, Conduct of Sex Education in Scottish Schools. This applies to local authorities in relation to education about sex and relationships matters provided in the schools they manage and how such education is conducted. This revised guidance also reflects the need for discussion of all types of relationships as part of RSHP education to acknowledge that as a result of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 both opposite sex and same sex couples can marry.

The Schools (Health Promotion and Nutrition) (Scotland) Act 2007 places a duty on schools and local authorities to ensure health promotion is at the heart of a school’s activities. A school is defined as health promoting if it provides activities, environment and facilities which promote physical, social, mental and emotional health and wellbeing of pupils in attendance at the school.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) is the independent, self‑regulatory body for the teaching profession and has the statutory duty of keeping and maintaining the register of teachers and determining the education and training that is required to attain a teaching qualification.

The GTCS standards set out the requirements for initial teacher education, continuing professional learning and professional standards. Courses, training and standards are developed to respond to the changing needs of children and young people. The Scottish Government has, however, issued guidance for teachers on aspects of the curriculum, prepared in conjunction with the GTCS.

The self‑evaluation tool ‘How Good is Our School? 4’ (HGIOS? 4) was introduced in August 2016. This includes a safeguarding quality indicator and specific quality indicator on ensuring wellbeing, equality and inclusion. This supports schools to effectively evaluate their own practice and support self‑improvement. A key component of most inspections is the evaluation of the quality indicator 3.1: Ensuring Wellbeing, Equality and Inclusion. The indicator focuses on the impact of the school’s approach to wellbeing which underpins children and young people’s ability to achieve success. Inspectors discuss with staff including guidance and pupil support their shared understanding of wellbeing and how targeted interventions and strategies deliver improved outcomes for children and young people, including LGBTI learners.

This Working Group has agreed the following series of recommendations that will comprise a new national framework to support consistent and effective delivery of LGBTI inclusive education in all Scottish schools. These recommendations are an alternative to legislation but the Working Group still considers legislation as an option should progress not be sufficient.


Email: Stuart Downes

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