Racism and Racist Incidents Subgroup - minutes: October 2021

Minutes from the group's meeting on 12 October 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Scottish Government Health and Wellbeing Unit (Chair)
  • Scottish Anti-Racism Education (SARE)
  • Intercultural Youth Scotland (IYS)
  • General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS)
  • Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS)
  • Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Coalition For Racial Equality And Rights (CRER)
  • respectme
  • Educational Institute for Scotland (EIS)
  • Education Scotland
  • Scottish Government Health and Wellbeing Unit (secretariat)


  • Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies

The Chair welcomed attendees to the second meeting of the workstream and noted apologies from ADES. 
SARE requested that future meetings label papers clearly and links provided to the papers in the MS Teams chat box, to improve accessibility. 

Note of minute from August meeting and actions

The Chair updated on the actions from the first meeting. All actions were complete except for 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. This action is in progress and SG officials have arranged to meet with SEEMiS. 

SARE indicated that they had further feedback on the minutes of the August meeting and offered to share these comments via email. This included comments on the definition of racism which is included under Item 3, and comments on the use of SEEMiS. 

SG confirmed the minutes of the previous meeting are a record of the discussion had at the meeting and it was agreed that additional comments on the Terms of Reference or Action List would be discussed later in the meeting. 

Action: SG will invite further comments on August minute via correspondence.

Paper 1 - Draft terms of reference

CRER noted that their full title was incorrect in the draft Terms of Reference and it should be ‘Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights’. 

The chair opened discussion on Paper 1 by asking the group for feedback on the term ‘racism, racist incidents and bullying’, which is also the name of the workstream. The chair advised that the term ‘racism, racist incidents and bullying’ was used in response to feedback received from members.

SARE advised their view that feedback received from members wasn’t representative. 

The workstream members discussed the meaning of racism and if the definition should be included in the Terms of Reference and in workstream outputs. Clearly defining racism, racist incidents and bullying will assist school staff to deal appropriately with incidents when they arise. 

SARE advised that racism is not just between children, its systemic so can be with teachers, staff, parents, policies and practices. SARE advised that parents are a third of a school community. Parental involvement and family based learning needs to be included.

SARE and IYS members expressed concern that the term ‘racist bullying’ can dilute the seriousness of the incident, as cases can be treated as bullying and the racist element can be of less importance. Teachers and school staff can have the choice of how to record incidents, which can lead to racism being erased and incidents recorded as ‘bullying’. 

SARE advised on their the concerns around using the terms “racist bullying” and “prejudice-based bullying”, and how these terms do not examine systemic racism and racist structures. School staff may lack training to distinguish between racism and bullying.

CRER noted that they have recently produced a report following a Freedom of Information request to local authorities in Spring 2021. The FOI related to the collation of bullying and racist incidents data by Local Authorities for academic year 2019/20. Following CRER’s analysis of FOI responses, the CRER report stated that there was a low rate of use of the SEEMiS Bullying and Equalities module by schools. CRER noted their view that the recording of all racist incidents should be mandatory.

COSLA referred to the initial workstream paper which was brought REAREP SNG in June 2021. SG and COSLA had carried out a survey with local authorities to ask how incidents are monitored using SEEMiS. Some of the issues that came through were confusion around appropriate recording and confidence in correctly identifying incidents. There is an opportunity for this workstream to be very clear about what is required from schools and Local Authorities to address this issue.

The racial literacy resource being developed by the School Leadership and Professional Learning sub group, will help address some of these issues. The work of this workstream should be underpinned by school leadership and school staff professional learning in order to be effective. 

SARE advised the importance of parental and carer engagement. 

It was noted that many independent schools do not use SEEMiS and have their own solutions for recording and monitoring. 

SARE raised the lack of representation of the diversity of the population of Scotland within the workstream, including gypsy traveller community, African, Caribbean, and East South East Asian communities. 

The group discussed lived experience of racism. The draft Terms of Reference include the lines: 
To ensure these principles are embedded, the workstream will acknowledge and value the fact that each member will bring their own knowledge and understanding of education, learning, and race equality, together with experiences in improving provision. All of these perspectives will be respected and treated equally. The group will also acknowledge and value that some members have lived experience of racism and some do not, resulting in discussions having differential impacts.

SARE noted their view that equal weight cannot be placed on perspectives considering the experiences of racism and knowledge of minority ethnic communities, and that voices of minority ethnic communities should be privileged in this work. SARE advised their view that this should be reflected in the TOR. 

It was emphasised that some members of the workstream have lived experiences of racism, and some members of the workstream have no lived experience of racism. 

It was suggested that throughout the document, children and young people of colour’s voices should not be down the list. This should be moved to higher up the document to reflect importance and centred in the work of the group. Involvement of CYP should be meaningful in planning, design and delivery. 

The Scottish Government spoke about how helpful it is to hear the comments been made. Creating the Terms of Reference is to try to set out the purpose and function of the group. The aim of the workstream is to work in partnership.

Scottish Government noted that from a policy perspective, it is important that the worksteam addresses racism, racist incidents and bullying. The work of the group should be to set out clearly for schools staff, children and parents what they mean, and advise on expectations and support for schools regarding follow up actions. Scottish Government want to work in partnership with members in this workstream to bring together the tools and support the schools need to make this better. 

SARE noted that Early Years should not be excluded from this work and provision for early years needs to be clarified. 

The representative from Respectme noted that it is very important how we are framing this work. There are strong arguments on how the term ‘racist bullying’ dilutes the racism, and we need to address this through the work of the workstream. The workstream also need to consider any unintended consequences of entirely removing the word ‘bullying’ and consider how to link to and improve guidance that supports anti-bullying Scotland.

SARE noted their view that racism and bullying are separate categories and areas of work, and anti-bullying policies do not encapsulate racism.

Education Scotland noted that when looking at prevention, recording is also important. There is a need to tackle both at the same time and work with practitioners on terminology. If this workstream only focuses on children and young people, there is a need to link with the Diversity in the Teaching Profession (DiTPEW) and Education Workforce workstream on racism experienced by school staff, both in terms of inter-staff experiences of racism and staff experiencing racism from students. 

SARE noted that racism is also interpersonally interpreted between pupils to staff and staff to pupils.

The chair confirmed that they have engaged with the DiTPEW workstream to have this discussion. The intention is if DITPEW is not working in that space, we can include within our scope or agree with DiTPEW to work together.

The group discussed the Scottish Parliament review of the operation of the Public Sector Equality Duty in Scotland which is currently underway, and how this applies to schools and the work of this workstream. 

Action: SG Health and Wellbeing Unit to engage with SG Equalities Unit on PSED review. 

CRER noted that Welsh schools are required to write an improvement plan. The representative from EIS Antiracist Sub Committee & BAME Network offered to share the template currently in use in Glasgow for schools to write an equalities policy, which is mandatory from this year. 

Action: EIS member to send template to Secretariat for sharing with the workstream. 

Action: Secretariat will request any outstanding comments from workstream members on the draft Terms of Reference by correspondence.

Paper 2 - Revised action list

The group discussed the importance of hearing the voices of children and young people of colour who are currently experiencing these issues, and in seeking views as early as possible to inform the work of the group.

SARE and IYS noted that CYPoC should be leading this work. 

The group discussed the limitations of relying on producing new guidance, and relying on new guidance being enacted by individuals within schools. There needs to be consideration of what happens if any newly-developed guidance is not engaged with. 

It was suggested that a targeted piece of communications with Moray House would be effective. It was noted that the Diversity in the Teaching Profession workstream will look at linkage with Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes. Linkage with ITE programmes has been mentioned in the overall REAREP SNG discussions and strengthens links with children’s rights and UNCRC.

SARE raised the need for this work to include consideration of early years provision, with respect to children and young people’s rights and anti-racism. 

It was suggested that children and young people of colour in Scotland need more support, such as services like Tell Mama (a UK-wide service which supports victims of anti-Muslim hate and monitors anti-Muslim incidents). Children and young people of colour also need to be able to approach people who look like them and understand what they are experiencing, to access support. 

At the previous workstream meeting, the workstream had requested that the Secretariat reach out to I Am Me to hear about their approach to disability hate crime. It was requested that the Secretariat also reach out to an organisation with anti-racism experience such as Kids of Colour, or a Scottish organisation who do similar work 

SARE specifically requested reaching out to Kids Of Colour as it is important to look at best practices across the UK and experiences of racism by communities of colour.

SARE noted that some workstream members are providing their input on a voluntary and unfunded basis and this should be remembered when planning work. SARE advised their view of the emotional and academic capital involved from people of colour which has not been recognised. 

Action: Actions list to be reviewed and voice of children and young people made more central. 

Any other business

The chair thanked attendees for their input.

A doodle poll will be circulated to decide the date and time of the next meeting. 

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