Racism and Racist Incidents Subgroup - minutes: September 2023

Minutes from the group's meeting on 13 September 2023.

Attendees and apologies


  • Education Scotland
  • GTCS
  • ADES
  • CRER
  • University of the West of Scotland
  • Respectme
  • EIS BAME Network
  • Intercultural Youth Scotland
  • Youthlink Scotland
  • Individual, consultant on anti-racism
  • Scottish Government Early Learning and Childcare
  • Scottish Government Health and Wellbeing Unit (Chair)

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed all members and invited them to introduce themselves. The Chair noted that the workstream has three co-chairs; Scottish Government Health and Wellbeing Unit, Intercultural Youth Scotland (IYS), and CEMVO, who will rotate chairing duties. The Chairs from IYS and CEMVO also sit on the Anti-Racism in Education Programme Board (AREP) and report back to it.

The Chair noted that the Terms of Reference has been refreshed since last time the group formally met to ensure respectful co-working.

The Secretariat can be contacted for queries around meetings, papers etc. The Secretariat will take a note of meetings, which will be shared with members for agreement before being published on the SG website.

Draft terms of reference

The Terms of Reference have been considered by the co-chairs and are based closely on the Terms of Reference for the AREP Board. This includes more background information on the programme.

The following comments were received:

  • the shared approach in line with the AREP board and other workstreams was welcomed
  • the focus on schools was noted and it was queried whether this could be expanded to early learning and childcare, and community learning and development settings. This may need consideration at Programme Board due to resourcing implications
  • it was suggested that the links between the workstream and the hate crime strategy be made clearer
  • it was suggested that the workstream follow the approach of the programme board and reiterate commitment to respectful work at the start of each meeting
  • it may be useful in the ToR to reference the GTCS professional standards, and equality and diversity guidelines. This will include SSSC Code of Practice for ELC professionals and the Standard for Childhood Practice for SCQF level 9 staff
  • the wording around UNCRC “rights and responsibilities” should be detached from each other

The group discussed whether there are opportunities for new members. It was agreed that there may be bespoke engagement on specific topics, but if members have particular ideas they should share these with Chairs.

Actions for secretariat on ToR

  • addition of references to ELC and wider educational settings
  • addition of reference to wider strategies eg Hate Crime
  • addition of reference to the GTCS professional standards, equality and diversity guidelines, SSSC Code of Practice for ELC professionals, and the Standard for Childhood Practice for SCQF level 9 staff
  • separate wording on UNCRC rights and responsibilities
  • correct YouthLink Scotland name on ToR
  • wider considerations regarding resource implications of ELC/CLD

Secretariat will bring forward a further draft of ToR to the next group meeting.

Draft action plan

The Chairs have reviewed the Action Plan to simplify and clarify. There have also been changes to reflect wider ongoing AREP work.

The Chair reminded the working group that the overarching aim, Outcome 1 and Outcome 5 have previously been agreed by the workstream. The workstream had also previously agreed that racism and bullying should be dealt with as separate concerns, and that RRI will be reflected within the Respect for All (RfA) review (Outcome 2).

  • Scottish Government (SG) provided an update on the review of RfA, noting that work is at early stage. There is a section in current RfA guidance on prejudice-based bullying which is marked for update, and the RfA working group are aware of the need to tie in with RRI and ongoing work on Hate Crime. There will be a subgroup of RfA working group focusing on prejudice-based bullying, which will ensure these links are made
  • the outcomes of the recent SG Behaviour Summits were requested for workstream consideration. It was confirmed that the summit series will run for several months, outcomes of the series can be shared once available
  • the Behaviour in Scottish Schools Research (BISSR) is at final stage of analysis. The findings will be relevant to the work of this group, and will be shared with the group once available
  • it was suggested that one of the biggest priorities of this group should be to make clear to schools how they deal with racist incidents when they arise. Group members noted support of having a specific action and output under the overarching outcome to reflect this
  • the current action is to provide clear guidance on responding to racist incidents, including recording and monitoring. It was noted that there are multiple interlinked strands of work (RfA review, SG Behaviour Summits, BISSR). It is important to connect this work, rather than duplicate
  • it was noted that racist incidents against staff cannot be recorded on SEEMiS; incidents for staff are recorded within the council’s HR systems. The workstream can also consider how to respond to and record racist incidents against people who come into schools to deliver work (eg anti racism training)
  • it was suggested that there should be an action around how the whole school/setting approach is communicated to schools, and how it is linked to other pieces of work. WSA should work alongside the two national existing national resources (the GLOW website and the Education Scotland Hub). This should be under Outcome 7 on communication
  • on Outcome 4, it was noted that the WSA should recognise the many ways in which parents are engaged in the life of the school. Parents can directly experience racism from schools and are also the parent of a child who experiences racism. Parents are key in the process, as children are most likely to report to family first. Schools could signpost to support for parents
  • it was noted that CRER are at the final stage of a funding application to develop a new advice and advocacy project for parents / carers of young people facing racism at school. A note was made to reference legislation on parental engagement in the WSA
  • both the response processes and wider school culture is important for recognising and addressing racism. On Outcome 4, it would be helpful to add a What Happens Next section, explaining where families can go if they are not content with the school’s response. This would cover local authority processes
  • the recent CRER report on racism and racist incidents policies in schools across Scotland was noted for workstream consideration. It would also be helpful for schools to know what next steps can be taken if they have a particular issue with a racist incident where they are unsure of how to respond
  • it was suggested that ‘prevent and respond’ in Outcome 2 should be separated
  • suggestion to change ‘school staff’ to ‘educators’ as a catch-all term for those in schools and local authorities, and for others working in schools including ELC and youth workers. It was recognised that other educators may not have access to resources which school staff have access to
  • it was suggested that Outcome 4 could be expanded to ‘families and communities’, to indicate that this is important work for schools in all parts of Scotland, even those who do not have a diverse pupil population. This should be balanced with Outcome 2 about communities
  • the group discussed links with the Hate Crime Strategy. WSA guidance will need to include advice to school management teams and campus police officers, regarding possible hate crimes occurring in school. It was noted that some young people of colour may find any contact with police extremely distressing, and this will need careful consideration in guidance. Hate crime and school-based police officers is a specific point within the Hate Crime Strategy
  • it was noted that there is still work to be done on building understanding of the differences between bullying and racism. This differentiation will need to be well communicated in guidance to allow it to influence practice
  • SG confirmed that it will continue to consider how incidents are recorded. It is likely that there will be content within the updated Respect for All which will describe the response to bullying, which will sit alongside the outputs of the RRI workstream. SG provided reassurance that the concerns regarding monitoring systems are recognised. This group will not be responsible for resolving these concerns, but the expertise of this group will be relied on to support this work
  • several members noted their support of mandatory reporting. The Chair suggested that the group can return to mandatory reporting once the action plan and Terms of Reference are in place. This would be a ministerial decision

Actions on action plan

  • review overarching outcome to show that guidance will include how to respond when a racist incident takes place
  • outcome 7: add action on linking to other pieces of work in comms
  • add to the action plan on recording & monitoring to clarify links to the other work that is ongoing on recording and monitoring
  • separate ‘prevent’ and ‘respond’ under Outcome 2
  • review use of ‘school staff’ and add ‘educators’ as a catch-all term for those in schools and local authorities
  • outcome 4 – indicate that this is not just for schools with diverse student populations, but all schools

Markers/action for future work

  • marker to return to mandatory reporting once ToR and Action Plan are in place
  • marker to add reference to legislation on parental engagement in the WSA
  • marker to add section on ‘What happens next’, for parents if they are not content with a school’s response to a racist incident
  • marker to add section on ‘Next steps’ for schools if there is a particular issue they are unsure how to respond to

Any other business

The Secretariat will look to schedule several meetings ahead and will be in touch with workstream members on dates and times.

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