Respect for All Review Working Group minutes: February 2024

Minutes from the meeting of Respect for All Review Working Group on 7 February 2024

Attendees and apologies


Support and Wellbeing Unit, Scottish Government (chair)

Association of Headteachers and Deputes Scotland (AHDS)

Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)

Education Scotland

Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS)

Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)


National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS)

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)


School Leaders Scotland (SLS)

Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association (SSTA)

Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP)

Support and Wellbeing Unit, Scottish Government (secretariat)


Police Scotland

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 12 December 2023 were attached with the papers. The chair provided an update on the actions which included agreement to issue meeting requests for the subgroups and a commitment to bring an updated guidance document with tracked changes to the next meeting. Members were content to agree the minutes.

The chair advised that a web page had been set up to include the terms of reference  from this group and all previously agreed minutes would be added to the new page before the next meeting.

Action: SG to publish minutes from previous meetings on webpage prior to the next meeting on 20 March.

Action: SG to issue meeting invites for subgroups.

Action: SG to bring back the guidance document with suggested changes as a paper to next meeting on 20 March

Updates from Scottish Government

The chair provided updates on the following:

Prejudice based bullying subgroup

The subgroup was set up and met at the end of last year. This was a positive meeting with lots of helpful suggestions made on relevant sections within the guidance. SG is currently working through those suggested changes which will go back to the subgroup before bringing back to this working group in March. Members of the Respect for All group have expressed an interest in joining that group and will invited to the next meeting.

Education Scotland’s thematic inspection – phase 2

The findings of Education Scotland’s thematic inspection is due to be published this month which will be used to inform the updated guidance.

Wider updates

  • National action plan on relationships and behaviour being developed with the Scottish Advisory Group on Relationships and Behaviour in Schools (SAGRABIS). It is currently out for comment and will be discussed at the SAGRABIS meeting in March.
  • Gender Based Violence framework is due to be published this month. Provisional date has been agreed, just waiting on clearance then will share more information.
  • Youth Engagement session taking place on the evening of 7 February on racism and racist incidents. Anything relevant will be shared with members.

Scottish Youth Parliament’s engagement with young people

The chair highlighted the session held in December with MSYPs on bullying. The chair thanked Scottish Youth Parliament for the report which was shared with the papers.

Scottish Youth Parliament provided an overview of the report. Key points were:

  • Theis was a one-off workshop with survey attached that they received 160 responses. The workshop allowed a deep dive into the survey responses.
  • 70% of young people said definition given was clear.
  • The young people said that people can be bullied anywhere not just schools and by anyone they come into contact with.
  • They were clear that they don’t want the guidance blaming certain groups and this is more about understanding and educating about bullying.
  • It is harder to deal with when it doesn’t happen in an enclosed space and is out of school, for example, on a bus.
  • 66% said bullying was worse online and snapchat is the worst for online bullying.
  • Online and in person bullying feels the same but should be treated differently
  • The importance of education from an early age, understanding why its happening, good communication between young people and adults is key in addressing bullying.

respectme welcomed the report and reiterated the importance of youth led anti-bullying work. It was agreed that it would beneficial for SYP and respectme to draw out key themes and data from their work. It was also suggested that it would be useful to explore local authority youth led groups to establish what data is already available that might be helpful to the update.

Action: SG to undertake some intelligence gathering on local authority youth groups on anti-bullying.

Members of the group highlighted that children often feel that it is those experiencing bullying that have restrictions placed upon them (leaving class early or staying in at lunch time, for example). Members agreed that it would be helpful to speak to young people to find out what a good process would look like for them in terms of responding to bullying.

Action: Engage with children and young people on what a good process would look like for them in terms of responding to bullying.

It was highlighted that many young people and parents/carers are unaware that the school has an anti-bullying policy or where to find it. SG agreed to make sure this is considered as part of the updates to the guidance.

Action: SG to consider point raised about visibility/accessibility of anti-bullying policies as part of the updates to Respect for All.

A member of the group wished to note that it was unfortunate young people’s views were not gathered directly as part of the Behaviour in Scottish Schools Research (BISSR). It was suggested that the voices of children and young people should be gathered in future iterations of BISSR or that a piece of work is commissioned to specifically hear from children and young people.

The chair confirmed that a meeting had been arranged for 19 February with children and young people’s organisations to discuss how best to involve children and young people in the national action plan on relationships and behaviour in schools. 

The group agreed that it would be helpful to include quotes from the SYP engagement session and survey in the updated guidance.

Definition of bullying

The chair advised respectme had written a paper on the definition which had been circulated with the papers. The chair confirmed that the definition had been discussed at several working group meetings and that it would be helpful if a way forward could be agreed today. The chair suggested that based on previous discussions it felt like members might be broadly happy with the current definition, following some minor changes or potentially teasing out some of the misconceptions below it.

respectme provided an overview of the paper on the definition of bullying:

  • The World Anti-Bullying Forum (WABF) 2023 met in October to discuss a new proposed global definition of bullying.
  • UNESCO reports that one in three learners are bullied at school, every month, globally, with bullying present across all cultures
  • Bullying in Scotland is an issue of deep and urgent concern, with 30,000 (c30%) of young respondents to the recent Health and Wellbeing Census recording their experiences. 
  • There was an agreement to revise a commonly used global definition of bullying and adopt a more inclusive definition of school bullying.
  • Unlike the proposed global definition, the Scottish definition is applicable across all services for children and young people, not only in school settings.

The group made a number of comments in relation to the definition:

  • Agreement that reference to the ‘context of relationships’ should either be removed or have a word to clarify its meaning in the definition as this is causing confusion.
  • ‘Sense of agency’ either needs removed or explained as this is also not clear to many people. Suggested changes included ‘sense of control over their life/managing their own safety’.
  • Clarity required on what isn’t bullying. Need to make clear the difference between bullying and hate crime for example.
  • Environment plays a huge part in bullying which isn’t currently reflected in the guidance.
  • Need to get a child friendly version of the definition.

SG agreed to re-draft the definition section to bring back to the following meeting for discussion.

Action: SG to rewrite definition taking into account the discussion from today’s meeting and bring it back to the group at the next meeting on 20 March.  

A number of points were raised around prejudice based bullying and the distinction between bullying and racism, for example. It was agreed that this would be considered as part of the subgroup on prejudice based bullying.


The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) highlighted a publication Equality and Human Rights Monitor 2023: Is Scotland Fairer?, the most comprehensive review of equality and human rights in Scotland. The last report was published in 2018.

It is split into chapters for the protected characteristics in the Equality Act 2010. They have also produced factsheets organised by ‘domain’, for example Education. The idea is that the key findings of the report identify the most pressing inequalities and makes recommendation to align with these.

They are also developing a dashboard view as an interactive data navigation tool that will allow users to access and review some of the data used for Is Scotland Fairer in the format that is most suitable for their needs (they can choose between data tables or different visualisations). It is expected this will be live in a couple of months.

EHRC agreed to share with group.

Action: SG to share EHRC Equality and Human Rights Monitor resource with group.

The chair confirmed the next meeting would take place at 14:00 on Wednesday 20 March.


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