Racism and Racist Incidents Subgroup - minutes: November 2021

Minutes from the group's meeting on 30 November 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Support and Wellbeing Unit, Scottish Government (Chair)
  • Intercultural Youth Scotland (IYS)
  • Scottish Anti-Racism Education (SARE)
  • Cemvo Scotland
  • Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Education Scotland
  • respectme
  • Early Learning and Childcare Division, Scottish Government 
  • Support and Wellbeing Unit, Scottish Government (member and secretariat)


  • Coalition For Racial Equality And Rights (CRER)
  • General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS)
  • Association of Directors of Education Scotland (ADES)
  • Educational Institute for Scotland (EIS)

Items and actions

Welcome, introductions and apologies

The chair welcomed attendees and introductions were made.

Papers were shared via email with all members before the meeting. The chair noted that the function to share the papers within the Teams meeting was not working due to an IT issue. The chair apologised for the negative impact on accessibility and agreed to take action to address this ahead of the next meeting to improve accessibility for all members. 

Paper 1 - Revised action plan

The chair outlined the revised action plan and invited comments from members on the suggested outcomes and actions. 

The chair noted that the Race Equality and Anti-Racism in Education Programme Stakeholder Network Group (SNG) have requested that all workstreams provide feedback about intended action plans ahead of the SNG meeting in January 2022. 

Some members highlighted a lack of accessibility around papers which resulted in things being unclear to members who are neurodivergent. This prompted a discussion around intersectionality and needs. 

Some members noted the trauma of feeling there was a lack of acknowledgement and understanding around racial trauma and at bullying being included as a term in this workstream title.

Actions under outcome 4

Wording of Outcome 4: ‘Families are confident in their school’s approach to tackling racism, racist incidents and bullying, and can raise any concerns with confidence’. 

In relation to Outcome 4, SARE raised questions around how are families meant to be confident? How are we addressing the barriers to tackling and acknowledging the existence and impact of racism via this document?

SARE advised that families are equal stakeholders and should be involved in decisions/concerns around racism or racist incidents, rather than just having confidence in the school. 

Action: SARE to suggest an updated form of words for outcome 4.

Actions under outcome 1

COSLA noted support for the action plan being arranged under specific outcomes and for the broader links to other workstreams being highlighted. Outcome 1 could be rephrased to make it clearer.

It was agreed that as actions 2 and 3 are closely linked, the two should be merged. 

Outcome 1, action 1: it is important that gathering the voices of children and young people is not just consulting. The aim is to engage with children and young people (CYP), and ask them how they want to engage and participate, and how they would like their views represented.

Outcome 2 Action 5 - Workstream link states ‘To inform development of whole-school approach content on recording of incidents in schools’ SARE asked what about outside schools when children are part of the school community. SARE advised their view that bullying should not be included in these categories.

Outcome 2 action 7 - Workstream link states that ‘The WSA must address the responsibilities of schools (leadership, operational and in partnership) for preventing and addressing racism, racist incidents and bullying in schools.’ SARE asked what the ideas are in this workstream around prevention and how does the workstream intend to look at prevention of racism without disrupting, dismantling and rebuilding systems. 

IYS suggested that there should be advocacy support or ongoing support for CYP who have experienced racism at school. 

Action: IYS to submit ideas on further support for CYP.

Members agreed to Outcome 1 and the actions under this outcome. 

Action: Update wording under Action 1 

  • “consultation” to be updated to “involvement and engagement”
  • “CYP voice to be heard” updated to “CYP voiced actioned"

It was noted that the project specification should ensure that the engagement provides ethnic minority children and young people a safe space to share their experiences.

Chair noted that the SG Equalities Unit will engage on the procurement process. 

Action: Scottish Government to reword Outcome 1 to improve clarity. 

Action: Actions 2 and 3 under Outcome 1 to be merged. 

Action: Scottish Government to begin progressing initial work on actions outlined under Outcome 1. This will be brought to a future workstream meeting. 

Other comments on the action plan

SARE and IYS strongly felt that the term ‘bullying’ should not be used in relation to the work of this group and it should be referred to as racism. 

SARE noted that the group should be clear on what is meant by bullying and racism and what is the difference. Prejudice-based bullying is mentioned in Respect for All, but racism is not. SARE noted that terminology should be addressed before moving onto outcomes and actions and should be part of Terms of Reference. 

Members agreed that a separate meeting would be arranged to have a focused discussion on this terminology with workstream members who wish to be involved. 

Action: SG to arrange focused discussion on terminology around bullying. 

It was noted that Education Scotland are working on racial literacy for school staff, which is an important link into this work.

SARE advised that the voices of BPoC members need to matter in terms of decision making in this work, and in the wider SNG, and the views of BPoC members should be taken on board. 

Scottish Government noted that a discussion was held with some members to acknowledge and address previous points raised. As the working group were concerned during the last meeting about how this work would be taken forward and the actions, the focus of this meeting is on the action plan and gathering feedback on proposed actions. 

Scottish Government noted that a whole school approach, as proposed in the action plan, is needed to enhance understanding and guidance to schools. This would include key topics which the group have noted in previous meetings. There are approaches in place for schools to respond to bereavement and trauma, which can also be tied into a whole school approach. The whole school approach should also align to school inspections and quality assurance processes. 

Currently the group have identified the following topics for inclusion in the WSA: 

  • an articulation of what racism is 
  • what racist incidents are and the appropriate response    
  • information for parents and carers on what they can expect

Action: The majority of the workstream agreed on whole school approach document. Scottish Government will bring a skeleton outline of a whole school approach to the next workstream meeting for feedback. 

What the WSA constitutes, engagement with wider communities, importance of community engagement, parents/ carers engagement and involvement, were raised as points for consideration. 

SARE noted that many communities are not represented on this workstream who are working on grassroots anti-racism. SARE also queried whether membership of SNG includes Critical Race Theory academics or experts. CEMVO noted that representation or views from organisations such as National Parent Forum and GTCS are key to moving work forward. 

SARE noted the importance of representing the voices of parents/carers of colour. 

It was noted that while lived experience is vital, it is also important to bring in the views of advocacy support organisations who work with multiple cases and families and have a wider picture. 

SARE advised that lived experiences of people did not refer to just single cases but rather informal advocacy and support groups that exist within various communities, example within the Pakistani-Scottish Muslim communities.

SARE noted that HGIOS4 (under Outcome 2) has one mention of racism in it and advised that the Terms of Reference should say how the group plans to address racism and should be clear on the needs of group with respect to neurodivergent members. 

Action: Group agreed to discuss TOR at the next meeting. 

SARE noted that they had feedback on the content of the Education Scotland GLOW website, including on engagement with minority ethnic communities. SARE asked for this to be shared with the main REAREP SNG.

Action: Education Scotland to liaise with SARE on feedback on GLOW. 

Action: CEMVO member to share research with group.

Any other business

The group agreed to set aside time at the end of each meeting to summarise what has been agreed, and to follow the agenda. 

A doodle poll will be circulated to find time for the next meeting.

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