Racism and Racist Incidents Subgroup - minutes: August 2021

Minutes from the group's meeting on 10 August 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Support and Wellbeing Unit, Scottish Government (Chair)
  • Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS)
  • Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS)
  • Education Scotland
  • Respectme
  • Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)
  • Support and Wellbeing Unit, Scottish Government (member and secretariat)
  • Intercultural Youth Scotland


  • Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER)

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies

The Chair welcomed attendees and noted apologies.
All members of the group introduced themselves and outlined their organisations’ links to the focus of this workstream.

Paper 1 - Distillation paper

The Chair advised that the distillation paper provides an overview of the feedback received from the Race Equality and Anti-Racism in Education Programme Stakeholder Network Group (hereafter SNG) at the June meeting.
Due to the summer break, it was decided to share this paper with the SNG by correspondence to request any additional comments. No further comments were received from the SNG.
The workstream members noted the importance of considering the sequencing of outputs, in order not to overload schools.
Paragraph 13 of the paper states that existing information and evidence should be used where this exists. The importance of this was reemphasised by members in order to prevent the retraumatisation of those who are asked to share and repeat their experiences several times. It was suggested that instead the workstream could take the approach of inviting feedback from children and young people on proposed approaches and actions.
It was agreed that the workstream should look to make links with the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS). Scottish Government Support and Wellbeing Unit will make links with the Grant-Aided Schools sector on behalf of the workstream. Ensuring that schools in all sectors are engaged.

Action 1: Scottish Government to engage with SCIS and Grant-Aided Schools about workstream.

Actions should be considered to respond to concerns that parent, carers, and families may want to report racism, racist incidents and bullying as result of racial prejudice in schools but struggle to know how to do this.

Action 2: Scottish Government to add consideration of parents and carers to the action plan.

It was suggested that Outputs from the workstream should differentiate between racism, racist incidents and bullying. It was suggested that currently incidents of racism can go unrecorded or not categorised as they do not fall under ‘bullying’. This could include casual use of racist language in school environments, or racist micro-aggressions.
Schools should be empowered to identify and deal with racism or racist incidents separately to bullying, and be empowered to understand structural racism as a mechanism that fosters inequality and injustice in the classroom, school and wider society. While bullying behaviour is a serious problem that needs to be tackled, it doesn't adequately address or name racism and all forms in which it manifests. Discriminatory behaviour that is motivated by someone's race or ethnicity can be easily misidentified as bullying and not linked to the structural framework the behaviour plays into and is part of.

Action 3: Scottish Government to include differentiation between racism and racist incidents throughout workstream actions. Information on how to identify these incidents should be included in guidance to schools.

It was suggested that the forthcoming update of SEEMiS there may be an opportunity to look at the current recording process and to feed into the system inclusion of appropriate language, to enable the system to be as effective as possible when recording incidents of racism.

Bullying as a result of racial prejudice can currently be recorded on the bullying module of SEEMiS. However, more work is needed to ensure that schools take a consistent approach to identifying and recording all racist incidents, and that school staff are confident both in dealing with incidents when they arise and in using the SEEMiS modules to their full functionality. The working group may wish to encourage education professionals to work with children and young people to identify how racism should be best captured and addressed.

Action 4: Scottish Government to engage with SEEMiS to confirm current capability and potential future capability arising from the move to Next Generation and functions around recording incidents of racism.

Workstream members agreed that the overarching theme of actions should be to equip schools with knowledge and strategies to tackle racism, racist incidents and bullying. This includes empowering schools to identify different kinds of racism and how this can manifest in order for racism not to go unaddressed when it occurs, even in subtle forms. Examples discussed included micro aggressions and institutional racism.

Paper 2  - Timeline of actions

The timeline of actions set out the suggested range of actions which the workstream may like to take forward.
Overall, workstream members felt that the actions in the paper are good, but it would be helpful to consider the outcomes sought and work backwards from this. This would enable more strategic planning around timings and interdependencies, and show how the impact can be measured.

Action 5: Scottish Government to consider the outcomes sought and organise the actions accordingly, to bring back to the workstream for agreement.

Action list

The group discussed the actions on guidance to schools. It was noted that there were two short-term actions on guidance, and a need to clarify the distinct purpose of each.
The group discussed combining both actions, rather than overcomplicating or confusing the messaging. It was agreed that existing guidance should be highlighted in the short term, and new or updated guidance provided in due course.
It was suggested that the clear guide for schools on reporting racism should be part of the whole school approach work.
The planned refresh of Respect for All which promotes a whole-school approach to anti-bullying (in 2022) provides a good opportunity at national level to further embed and promote this work, incorporate our learning, and amplify children and young peoples’ voices.

Connections to other work

It was noted that this work has many connections to other SNG workstreams, and the importance of communication and links between the workstreams was emphasised.
The Education Scotland representative sits on the other workstreams and will provide a point of contact across the groups. The Chair also provides feedback to the REAREP Programme Board, and will hear from the other workstream leads, this will also enable co-ordination and engagement between workstreams.


Members noted that work should consider what is meant by racism, racist incidents, and micro aggression and ensure that schools are empowered to identify when these happen and act accordingly. Members also noted that school staff can experience racism, racist incidents and bullying.

Action 6: Secretariat to link with Diversity in the Teaching Profession and Education Workforce (DITPEW) Workstream on racism experienced by school staff.

The workstream may wish to explore if there is a way to record that isn’t solely reliant on formal reporting to schools and school staff.
Education Scotland (ES) set out some of the reporting options currently used within the UK. Different models were discussed. They are:

  • Kids of Colour - a platform for young people of colour to explore race, identity and culture and challenge the everyday, institutionalised racism that shapes their lives
  • I Am Me (Scotland) – an app created by a community charity working in partnership with Police Scotland & COPFS to tackle disability hate crime

Both of these options enable children to report incidents on the app, which automatically informs the school. This means that children do not have to rely on formal reporting to schools and school staff at all times. The workstream may want to explore how to facilitate children and young people to contribute to the creation of appropriate reporting tools.
The Respectme member advised that she sits on board of I AM Me, and offered to provide a more detailed overview to the group at a future meeting.

Action 7: Secretariat to engage with Respectme member to arrange overview of I AM Me project for future workstream meeting.

Intercultural Youth Scotland are leading consultation with young people to create visions and ideas for meaningful reporting racism mechanisms in schools.

Children and young people

The group agreed on the need to ensure that outputs of the worksteam meet the need of children and young people. Being encouraged to report incidents is good, but children and young people may experience more racism than is recorded in the reporting system itself. Young people may experience further barriers at the point at which they attempt to report, for example if the incident is inaccurately recorded.
It was noted that it is important to facilitate young people to be involved in change, and to empower children to promote inclusion in schools. It was noted that the anti-racist clubs discussed at Agenda Item 4 may address this.


The workstream discussed the importance of self-evaluation in responding to racism, as a possible gap in current approaches. There is currently a focus on preventing and responding.
Therefore, outputs of the workstream should empower schools to evaluate their own approaches to responding to racism. How Good is Our School 4 (HGIOS) provides the framework for self-evaluation and improvement planning. Something aligned could be designed for strategies to tackle racism.
Respectme noted that they have been developing a toolkit on self-evaluation which is currently being piloted. Aligned to HGIOS, the toolkit utilises the views of young people and staff as part of self-evaluation. There may be scope to incorporate the work of this workstream. Respectme offered to share a report of the work in future.

Action 8: Scottish Government to liaise with Respectme on the reporting toolkit and share with the wider group.

Education Scotland - anti-racist clubs

Education Scotland gave the group an overview of current work on providing resources for anti-racist clubs. An anti-racist club can be an important tool for supporting people who experience racism, empowering allies, building racial literacy and stimulating local anti-racist change. The Anti-Racist Club Guide provides information for schools on how to set up and run an anti-racist club in their own school.
It was agreed that this work can be incorporated into the actions of the workstream.
Education Scotland also have plans to start a Scottish Anti-Racist Clubs Network which would meet regularly and drive some responsive and flexible anti-racist Professional Learning.
Workstream members welcomed the resources and felt that it would be very well-received by schools.

Action 9: Education Scotland to share the draft resource with workstream members for feedback and suggestions by the end of August.

Any other business

The Chair closed the meeting and advised members they would send a note of the meeting in due course.
A doodle poll will be circulated to select a date for the next meeting.

Back to top