Racism and Racist Incidents subgroup minutes: January 2024

Minutes from the meeting of the subgroup on 30 January 2024.

Attendees and apologies

  • Education Scotland
  • YCSA
  • IYS
  • University of the West of Scotland
  • Respectme
  • ADES
  • Connect
  • Al Masaar
  • GTCS
  • Scottish Government Health and Wellbeing Unit (Chair)


  • CRER
  • Independent racism consultant
  • Youthlink Scotland

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair opened the meeting and welcomed the new member from Youth Community Support Association. 

The Chair noted the workstream responsibilities in relation to co-working. 

Minutes from December meeting

The draft minutes from the December meeting had been circulated to members and no comments were received. Members confirmed that they were content for the minutes to be published.  

Action: Secretariat to publish December minutes on Scottish Government website

CYP engagement

The member from Intercultural Youth Scotland (IYS) brought an update to the group on the ongoing programme of engagement with children and young people which is currently being delivered by IYS for the Anti Racism in Education Programme (AREP). Each subgroup from the AREP has been allocated sessions to ask young people for feedback on their work plans. 

Young people will attend a session this week to learn about the background of the RRI workstream and what has been done so far, including the work done around the distinction between bullying and racism. 

Subgroup members are invited to attend an engagement session in early February with children and young people which will discuss the group’s action plan.

At a following session, the young people and facilitators will consider the action plan and decide what feedback they wish to send to the workstream. This will be written up and sent to the workstream, with a request that the workstream formally responds.  

Members discussed what they would like to ask the young people. Suggestions made included: 

  • asking for views around different kind of restorative practices that are being used in schools. Are these appropriate for racist incidents?
  • what is distinctive about experience of racist incidents that school staff should be aware of when responding to incidents?
  • young people do not always respond in the same ways to racism. Could ask young people how they cope with racism or what they think would be an appropriate response from school staff? 
  • how would young people like to see accountability and monitoring of how schools are responding to racism? If the school is not responding, what would be helpful for them in terms of next steps? This would inform the content of the Framework
  • what would CYP want to see in the guidance? 
  • what is the difference between racism and bullying, in their opinion?
  • what advice should be in the framework for CYP who experience racism, eg report, speak to an adult, advice about wellbeing. Noted that this is a sensitive area and the guidance needs to avoid unintentionally negative messages eg about being resilient

IYS noted that the feedback will not be representative of all adversely racialised children and young people, but will provide a very helpful snapshot which will direct our work. 

Action: Secretariat will draft some suggested discussion questions based on the feedback above and will share with IYS facilitators. 

Draft section of framework: creating a whole School anti racist environment

The Secretariat outlined the contents of this draft section. It was noted that the workstream are following the workplan agreed in December when drafting the guidance. 

Members were asked for feedback and comments on the draft. Suggestions included:

  • members considered use of ‘Whole School Community Approach’ instead of ‘Whole School Approach’. Whole school community can therefore take responsibility for anti racism. However, adding ‘community’ may dilute responsibility of schools
  • it was agreed that ‘community’ would not be in the title but it would clarified in an early part of the guidance that we are talking about whole school community. A whole community approach is vital to challenge and respond to racism. Community = people connected to the school. Guidance should demonstrate understanding that schools do not work in a vacuum and that a school will need support from LAs, community, etc
  • add language which references the ELC. Can intersperse ‘school’ with ‘establishment’, or ‘setting’, and have note in Introduction that ELC is included
  • add learning and teaching to flow chart and sections so that it is: ‘Curriculum, learning, teaching and assessment.’ The ways in which we approach learning and teaching is very relevant for a WSA
  •  ‘CYP will be the experts…’ – revise use of ‘experts’ here to ensure that it does not read as though racism in school is CYP’s problem to fix. CYP may also need support to describe what is happening to them and may not always identify racism
  • add a line about anti-racism being a fundamental value of schools to ‘ethos’ section
  • part of an anti-racist environment is working to increase diversity in teaching staff. Add line to reflect this. It was noted that pg 19 of Education Scotland’s guidance references the responsibilities of employer
  • school culture and ethos section should mention embracing culturally responsive approaches, eg learning people’s names, different holidays being celebrated within school
  • members were pleased to see the inclusion of Anti Racist Clubs
  • add section on creating safe spaces to talk about racism
  • members were pleased to see the rinciples signposted. One or two principles could be highlighted which are most relevant to this section, eg safe spaces, understanding racism is a serious source of harm
  • ‘policies and systems’ section: members welcomed mention of collaboration with CYP who experience racism. May be useful to also include parents and carers. Education Scotland may be able to signpost to case studies if useful
  • ‘curriculum and ethos’ on page three: depends heavily on school leadership, which is the keystone for many WSAs. Can we make this explicit?
  • curriculum section: add 'and their families' to the sentence ‘This approach can help challenge prejudice without singling out or ‘othering’ specific groups of children or young people’
  • ‘policies and Systems’ section needs to include policy development. Include the whole school community and the Parent Council/parents and carers in the development of policies
  • professional learning – teachers need appropriate time to engage with professional learning, including follow up from senior leaders. Add line to encourage support of school leadership and senior leaders as part of planned professional dialogue, to encourage accountability and sharing of learning throughout school. Link with HGIOS
  • link with HGIOS, accountability of Local Authorities and professional learning will be in the ‘monitoring and review’ section
  • terms currently used are ‘Children and young people’ and/or ‘children and young people who experience racism’ – need to be clear that this means adversely racialised young people 
  • strengthen language such as ‘consider approach’. People who are reading this guidance should see it as a call to action to create an environment that is free from harm and resists harm. Reference harm that has already been caused to young people
  • add line to set out that priority and resource should be given to the work of the WSA; to recognise that some of the suggestions require staff resource and time, but that it is important 
  • ‘policies’ section: Members welcomed the example provided of specific policy around uniform. All schools have different policies – can provide more examples and model more policies that we would like to see
  • need to mention families wherever possible eg for racist incidents, it might be that parents/families need to be involved, informed and supported throughout subsequent actions
  • add reference to Parent Councils, as they have a responsibility as school community leaders and parent representatives and should help lead with anti racism in school communities. It was noted that there will be a specific section which will focus on families
  • a future action is to link with HMI about how this work will be reflected in future inspections
  • review language to ensure of suitable strength that issues are genuinely tackled
  • want to create a tone that is positive. However, can consider if there is space to highlight consequences if things going wrong? 
  • in another area of the document, would be useful to include discussion about how the school works with campus police officers and police in creating a whole-school anti-racist environment. Need to be clear about how schools interacting with police can lead to further harm for CYP
  • important to remember local authorities have a responsibility around making sure that schools take due account of guidance. Accountability is to the LA that employs the school staff. Within policies and practices section need to acknowledge this; there should be support for schools from LAs. Scottish Government noted that once draft is in place, intention would be for SG and COSLA to enter into agreement to jointly support the guidance
  • the Anti-Racism in Education Programme Board's Anti-Racism Commitment could be used to strengthen the collective leadership aspects of the framework
  • the Framework is designed to be long-lasting and be used for years to come
  • framework should tie in with teacher education broadly, rather than just focusing on ITE
  • members reiterated the need to create a glossary
  • could there be a companion document in simplified language for CYP? Or video. Focus on WSA first and then develop CYP content once the guidance is in place


  • secretariat to collate the feedback provided during this session
  • members to submit any further written comments to secretariat

Any other business

Noted that next meeting will be in March. Scottish Government will be in touch with members about arrangements for next meeting, as current Secretariat is going on maternity leave in February. The Chair thanked the secretariat for her work over the last few months. 

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