Respect for All: national approach to anti-bullying

The approach aims to build capacity, resilience and skills in children and young people to prevent and deal with bullying.

Appendix 1: The policy landscape and legal framework

Legal obligations to consider:

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child ( UNCRC)

Children's rights are now embedded in Scottish legislation with the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 [16] ( CYPA) introducing a duty on Scottish Ministers to ' keep under consideration whether there are any steps which they could take which would or might secure better or further effect in Scotland of the UNCRC requirements' and if they consider it appropriate to do so, take any steps identified by that consideration.

Respect for All ensures that all partners who work with children and young people are supported to promote and protect the rights of children and young people in Scotland.

Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 provides a basic framework of protection against direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation in services and public functions, as well as providing protection for people discriminated against because they are perceived to have, or are associated with someone who has, a protected characteristic. The protected characteristics are:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation.

Age and marriage and civil partnership are not protected characteristics within school education.

In essence, organisations have to ensure that policies aimed at preventing bullying or at addressing the consequences of bullying where it occurs do not directly or indirectly discriminate anyone who shares a protected characteristic. For those bodies covered by the public sector equality duty (see below) that would normally be done by assessing the impact of those policies against the needs of anyone who has a protected characteristic and publishing the conclusions of that assessment.

As well as placing duties on service providers and public sector bodies the Act provides for ways in which individuals can seek remedies for discrimination by organisations, including mediation or making a claim to a court or tribunal. The Equality and Human Rights Commission ( EHRC) provides more information on the rights of individuals, or advice can be sought from the Equality Advisory Support Service.' Everyone has several of the protected characteristics in the Act. The Equality Act 2010 does not just protect people from discrimination because they have these characteristics. It also protects a person from discrimination because they are perceived to have one or more of the protected characteristics or that they are associated with someone who does have a protected characteristic.

The public sector equality duty in the Equality Act 2010 requires an organisation exercising public functions to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations in the exercise of those functions. To help them to do this, most Scottish public authorities are subject to the requirements of a set of specific duties. These duties include equality impact assessment of new or revised policies.

The Equality and Human Right Commission published Technical Guidance [17] for all schools in Scotland (including publicly funded, grant-aided, independent, special and preschool and nursery schools) which outlines the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 for schools in relation to the provision of education and access to benefits, facilities or services, both educational and non-educational. It provides an authoritative, comprehensive and technical guide to the detail of the law.

The Schools (Health Promotion and Nutrition) Act (Scotland) 2007 [18] amended the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 and the Standards in Scotland's Schools etc. Act 2000 to place a number of duties on education authorities including ensuring that schools are health promoting. This includes promoting physical, social, mental and emotional wellbeing by supporting pupils to make positive lifestyle choices in relation to their health and wellbeing.

Bullying, whether linked to prejudicial attitudes or not, can sometimes create additional support needs for children and young people. There is specific legislation in this area in the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (as amended) which provides a comprehensive legal framework for the provision of additional, targeted support for children and young people who face barriers to learning.

Policy implications

Since the last publication of the National Approach, the policy and legislative landscape has changed. However, there does remain an emphasis on the importance of wellbeing and relationships in shaping positive outcomes for children and young people. This is outlined in Better Relationships, Better Learning, Better Behaviour [19] (2013). Evidence tells us that investing time and resources into improving relationships and behaviour in whole school and wider environments leads to positive outcomes around inclusion, engagement and achievement in the short term, and community safety and cohesion in the longer term.

Some of the other key drivers for the current guidance are set out below:

Getting it Right for Every Child

Getting it right for every child is the national approach in Scotland to improve outcomes and to support the wellbeing of our children and young people by offering the right help at the right time from the right people. The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 provides a description of wellbeing so that children, young people, families and practitioners (such as teachers, school nurses and youth workers) have a shared understanding of what is meant by wellbeing. The approach recognises that children and young people have different experiences in their lives, but every child has the right to expect appropriate support from adults to allow them to reach their potential.

Getting it right for every child builds on the experience of most families that children benefit from a network of support to promote and support their wellbeing. The approach makes available a Named Person within this network of support. The Named Person is an identified point of contact who is there for children, young people and parents, to help them get the information, advice or support they need if and when they need it. For children of school age, the Named Person will usually be a promoted teacher in the school they attend.

The Named Person is also available to offer information, advice or support to other practitioners who are working with children, young people and parents to promote, support or safeguard their wellbeing.

Learning in Health and Wellbeing

Learning in Health and Wellbeing, as part of Curriculum for Excellence, ensures that children and young people develop the knowledge and understanding, skills, capabilities and attributes which they need for mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing now and in the future. All adults who work in schools have a responsibility to ensure the mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing of the children and young people in their care. The Responsibility of All includes each practitioner's role in establishing open, positive, supportive relationships across the school community.

The Curriculum is designed to improve education for children and young people by putting their learning experiences at the heart of education.

Good health and wellbeing is central to human development. Schools, colleges and other learning establishments have much to contribute to its development.

Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood ( RSHP) Education [20]

In 2014 guidance on the Conduct of Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood ( RSHP) education in schools was published. This guidance clearly states how important it is that RSHP education is inclusive and reflects issues relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex ( LGBTI) children or those with LGBTI parents, such as same sex marriage and hate-crime reporting.

The guidance also highlights the 'Dealing with Homophobia and Homophobic Bullying in Scottish Schools [21] , a Toolkit for Teachers' resource to support staff in recognising, challenging, and reducing homophobia and homophobic bullying in their schools. This is a resource which can be used in conjunction with Respect for All.

Early Learning and Childcare

Building the Ambition; National Practice Guidance on Early Learning and Childcare (2014) [22] provides detailed, practical guidance on the experiences and interactions necessary to deliver the learning journey of babies, toddlers and young children. The aims of this document should inform how early years practitioners support wellbeing and positive relationships within early learning and childcare settings.

Raising Attainment for All

The Scottish Government recognises the need to raise the attainment of all children and young people living in deprived areas in order to close the equity gap and has set out its aims for this within the Scottish Attainment Challenge [23] . This is set within the context of CfE and targets improvement in literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing in these areas.

National Improvement Framework

One of the most important aims of the National Improvement Framework [24] is to drive improvements in learning for individual children and to ensure that there is a purpose to assessment and information gathering. It is hoped that more robust and transparent assessment and information gathering will help schools and local authorities to support children and young people more appropriately. As well as a focus on literacy and numeracy, it will also bring greater focus to improvements in the health and wellbeing of young people.

Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy

The Scottish Government's Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy (2016) sets out 4 key objectives, realisation of which will create the optimum conditions for an education enhanced and enriched by digital technology. The strategy recognises the importance of ensuring that young people and schools capitalise on the benefits of using digital technology safely.

Youth Work Strategy

The National Youth Work Strategy 2014-2019, Our Ambitions for Improving the Life Chances of Young People in Scotland [25] recognises youth work as a key and distinctive component of the Scottish Government's present and future agenda for young people.

The strategy aspires to ensure all young people, in every part of Scotland, have access to high quality and effective youth work practice.

Youth work practitioners also have a responsibility to ensure that they follow the principles of Respect for All and ensure they receive the appropriate training.

Developing The Young Workforce - Scotland's Youth Employment Strategy [26]

This strategy is designed to ensure our young people have an educational experience which is relevant to future work to future work opportunities where employers play an active role, both shaping and benefiting from Scotland's education system by helping to create the talent pool they need and recruiting young employees.

Mental Health Strategy

The 10-year Mental Health Strategy was published on 30 March 2017 and sets out our vision to improve mental health in Scotland. A key section in the Strategy deals with prevention and early intervention. That section outlines our ambition that every child and young person should have appropriate access to emotional and mental well-being support in school.

National Action Plan on Internet Safety

The National Action Plan on Internet Safety for children and young people sets out a number of actions to improve internet safety. Its priorities include equipping children and young people themselves to stay safe online, supporting professionals, parents and carers and continuing to work with digital and social media providers to ensure children are not exposed to harm.

National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland in 2014

All children and young people have the right to be cared for and protected from harm, and to grow up in a safe environment. Child protection is a duty shared amongst all of us in society, not just core professionals.

We expect all professionals working with children to identify and act on any concerns to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the child concerned and we updated the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland [27] in 2014 to help professionals do this.


  • The 5Rights coalition is a UK wide initiative which recognises that the internet and digital technologies are a fundamental part of children and young people's lives. It believes that children and young people must be empowered to access the digital world creatively, knowledgeably and fearlessly.
  • 5Rights takes the existing rights of children and young people (under 18), and articulates them for the digital world. It has developed a framework based around 'five rights' which they believe organisations should sign up and adhere to, in order to sufficiently protect and support young people in a digital environment. The five rights are:
  • The right to remove: every child and young person should have the right to easily edit or delete all content they have created
  • The right to know: children and young people have the right to know who is holding or profiting from their information, what their information is being used for and whether it is being copied, sold or traded
  • The right to safety and support: children and young people should be confident that they will be protected from illegal practices and supported if confronted by troubling or upsetting scenarios online
  • The right to make informed and conscious choices: children and young people should be empowered to reach into creative places online, but at the same time have the capacity and support to easily disengage

The right to digital literacy: to access the knowledge that the internet can deliver, children and young people need to be taught the skills to use, create and critique digital technologies, and given the tools to negotiate changing social norms.


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