Respect for All Review Working Group Minutes: December 2023

Minutes from the Respect for All Review Working Group for December 2023

Attendees and apologies


  • Support and Wellbeing Unit, Scottish Government (chair)
  • Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)
  • Education Scotland
  • Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association (SSTA)
  • Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS)
  • National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS)
  • respectme
  • School Leaders Scotland (SLS)
  • Scottish Youth Parliament
  • Support and Wellbeing Unit, Scottish Government (secretariat)


  • Police Scotland
  • Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
  • Glasgow City Council

Items and actions

Welcome, apologies and note of previous meeting 

The chair welcomed attendees and apologies were noted.

The minutes from the meeting held on 1 November were attached with the papers. Members were invited to provide comments on these minutes. It was agreed for any comments to be sent to SG by Friday 16 December. Once agreed, minutes will be published onto the Scottish Government website.

Update on realationships and behaviour work

The chair provided an overview of the final summit on relationships and behaviour which took place on 28 November where the Behaviour in Scottish Schools Research (BISSR) was discussed. The chair highlighted the Cabinet Secretary’s statement to Parliament the following day where she announced a five step plan:

  • £900k of funding for school support staff training to allow our local authorities to best support their teams. This is important given the findings from the behaviour in Scotland’s schools research which indicated that it is school support staff who have the most challenging experiences in dealing with negative behaviours and this funding is designed to support them
  • A National plan for action, developed in partnership with key stakeholders across education
  • Support spear-headed by our new Interim Chief Inspector, to ensure HMI inspections help support improvement
  • A call for more accurate and robust reporting of incidents in our schools
  • A dedicated approach to responding to issues surrounding misogyny
  • The chair emphasised the outputs from the summit and research will feed into this work

Members were invited for reflections/questions. Some points highlighted were:

  • Members generally welcomed the five point plan
  • There are lots of inter-relationships between different groups. We need to ensure this work is aligned across the board
  • Concerns raised about the funding announcement for support staff and if any further clarification on what the training is designed for and how this will be distributed
  • The chair confirmed that the £900k of funding was announced following the findings of BISSR that it is school support staff who have the most challenging experiences in dealing with negative behaviours and they themselves requested more training. This funding is designed to enable further support to be provided to them. Discussions with COSLA are underway about the distribution and use of the funding
  • Regarding reporting, clarity of expectations is required in terms of what will happen if instances are reported. The process is sometimes not clear for children and young people

Action: SG to provide clarity on the inter-relationships between different groups to ensure work is aligned across the board.  

Update from Scottish Youth Parliament on consultation workshop

The chair provided a brief overview of the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) consultation workshop with MSYPs on anti-bullying in schools held on 11 December.

The SYP representative provided an update on the workshop.  A range of activities were planned to gather views and different experiences. Topics covered were:

  • Mental health
  • Variation of age
  • Understanding of what bullying is
  • Misconceptions
  • Understanding of if they are being bullied or not
  • Understanding in terms of human rights

Another point highlighted during the session was that bullying does not just happen within schools. Some of the examples of when and where bullying can happen were online, school bus and at home.

SYP representative confirmed members will receive a report from that session in due course.

Comments were invited from members, the chair welcomed any particular thoughts on how we can ensure this work meaningfully feeds into the RfA update. Some points raised were:

  • Members thanked SYP representative for the insights
  • Bullying definition needs to be clear, child friendly and easy to understand.
  • Potentially need to have a high level definition, accompanied with information around where some of the misconceptions lie (around online bullying and bullying that takes place outwith school, for example) 
  • The importance of youth led anti-bullying work
  • Expectations from children and young people when it comes to bullying to be reviewed as part of RfA update
  • It was reiterated that bullying does not have to be repeated to be classed as bullying

Action: SG to share report from SYP’s consultation with children and young people and bring back for discussion at the next meeting.

Updated timeline

An overview of the updated timeline following the comments from the previous meeting was provided. Members thanked the chair and were happy with the proposed timeline.

The chair confirmed that sub-groups would need to be formed to ensure the proposed timeline deadlines are met and welcomed members to volunteer to join the sub-groups.

Action: SG agreed to create a form to invite members to join subgroups.  

Extract from guidance for review

An extract from the guidance covering the sections on purpose, vision, who the document is for, what it aims to do and the principles, was shared with members for consideration.

Comments were invited from members and whether any changes were required to the sections. Some points raised were:

  • Over all good guidance and nothing concerning
  • The impact on childhood development should be mentioned under the section on ‘A shared vision’
  • Children’s/Human rights (UNCRC) need to be included in the list of values under ‘purpose’
  • It would be helpful to pull out definitions and map out what’s being used elsewhere in terms of prejudice based bullying
  • Value section needs to be updated
  • Graphic on page 2 should have children and young people and families at the top of the outer circle rather than regulatory bodies

The chair highlighted if members have any comments or suggestions they would like to make following the meeting, it would be helpful to have these sent over to SG by 19 January.

Action: SG to make the suggested changes to the guidance.  

Definition of bullying

A paper was provided which highlighted the current definition of bullying along with other definitions of bullying for comparison.

respectme provided an update on the World Anti-Bullying Forum and the updated proposed bullying global definition which had recently been released. It is important to highlight that the global definition is designed for bullying with the school grounds only.

Comments on the definition were invited from members. Some points raised were:

  • Members thanked respectme for providing an overview of the new proposed global definition
  • The new definition is welcomed and is an improvement on the previous global definition
  • The definition is more realistic and more in line with what parent and carers are currently facing
  • Further discussion would be required to strengthen the global definition and tailor it to a Scottish context
  • Reminder that RfA is for everyone, not just schools. Would be helpful to set out in an appendix the delineation between school staff, third sector and colleges, for example

It was highlighted that a discussion paper with more information on the definition will be presented to the group at the next meeting.

Action: Discussion paper with more information on the definition of bullying to be issued to the group in advance of the next meeting.


The chair thanked members and highlighted SG will take all comments on board. It was also noted that SG will arrange meetings in the diary up for 2024 in line with the timeline.

Action: SG to send dates out for all RfA Working Group meetings in 2024.

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