Scottish Advisory Group on Relationships and Behaviour in Schools minutes: December 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 7 December 2022

Attendees and apologies

  • Association of Directors of Education Scotland (ADES)
  • Association of Headteachers and Deputies Scotland (AHDS)
  • Association of Scottish Principal Educational Psychologists (ASPEP)
  • Education Analytical Services, Scottish Government
  • Education Scotland
  • Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS)
  • National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS)
  • respectme
  • School Leaders Scotland (SLS)
  • Support and Wellbeing Unit,  Scottish Government
  • Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA)
  • ScotCen Social Research


  • Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills
  • COSLA Children and Young People Spokesperson
  • Scottish Council of Deans of Education (SCDE)

Items and actions

Welcome, introductions and minutes from previous meeting

The chair welcomed attendees and noted apologies. The chair advised that the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills was unable to attend due to urgent parliamentary business that had arisen at short notice.

The chair introduced the new member of the Support and Wellbeing Unit leading on the education actions within The Promise for the Scottish Government (SG). The member advised they would attend future Scottish Advisory Group on Relationships and Behaviour in Schools (SAGRABIS) meetings to engage with members but welcomed members to make contact via email in the meantime. 

The minutes from the previous meeting, held on 1 February, had already been agreed so were shared for information only. The chair advised that all actions had been completed.

Behaviour in Scottish Schools Research (BISSR)

The BISSR due to take place in 2020 was delayed due to COVID-19. SG advised that following a procurement process, the contract for this research had been awarded to ScotCen Social Research at the end of October. 

Officials have established a Research Advisory Group (RAG) that some SAGRABIS members are part of. The RAG will provide more regular feedback and input on the research in between SAGRABIS meetings. Officials are currently working to identify a representative for children and young people on that group. 

ScotCen provided the following overview of the quantitative aspect of the research.

  • the same set of core questions would be used as in previous iterations of the survey to ensure trend data can be gathered and compared with previous years
  • the survey will be issued to Headteachers, teachers and support staff in an online format. Support staff will also receive the option to complete a paper copy if they do not have online access
  • all secondary schools in Scotland will be invited to participate in the survey and just over 500 primary schools (not all primary schools are included due to there being a very high number of them)
  • the primary schools will be selected in the same way they were in the 2016 research, ensuring a mix of demographic, socio-economic and urban/rural schools
  • a pilot will be held between 9th and 16th January 2023 to establish how the survey works for teachers and if any improvements are required
  • the official survey will then take place from 20th February to 24th March 
  • early data will be provided to inform the qualitative aspect, however, final quantitative data will not be ready until April 2023

ScotCen advised that the RAG had discussed the current context in schools, noting the ongoing strike action and upcoming exam period. SAGRABIS members were invited to share any intelligence on current school context that may impact on the research.

Action: SAGRABIS members to share any intelligence on current school context with the SG that may impact on BISSR.

During preparations for the cancelled 2020 survey, SAGRABIS had agreed to include questions around COVID-19 measures in the survey. However, the situation has moved on significantly so ScotCen were keen to get members’ thoughts on whether any additional questions were still required. The group were generally content that it would be helpful to have something on COVID-19. It was also noted that there would be an opportunity to explore the impact of COVID-19 on behaviour in the qualitative aspect of the research. SG agreed to confirm to SAGRABIS members the final agreement on COVID-19 questions. 

Scotcen provided the following overview on the qualitative aspect:

  • onterviews will be sought with one representative from each local authority from the education department. All 32 local authorities will be contacted•    local authority interviews will take place virtually (Teams/Zoom/telephone) and will seek to establish authorities’ overarching view of behaviour in schools
  • local authority interviews will begin in late January and will run through to June 2023
  • there will also be school-based qualitative interviews taking place in 14 schools (this will be a mix of secondary and primary schools, but primarily secondary schools)
  • these will take place on a one-day visit to each school and any follow up questions/interviews required will take place virtually
  • the fieldwork will involve at least one interview with a headteacher or deputy head, 3-4 class teachers as well as support staff
  • schools will be selected to ensure a mix of demographic, socio-economic and urban/rural schools
  • raw data can be extracted from the quantitative survey at any time so this information can be used to inform the fieldwork and seek thoughts from school staff on emerging issues
  • fieldwork in schools will begin in March, aiming to visit 2-3 schools mid-March with the remaining visits taking place between April and June 2023
  • analysis will take place May-July 2023. Draft report expected in September with a final report produced late October 2023

SSTA advised they have compiled a behaviour questionnaire for their members and agreed to share the draft with researchers and SAGRABIS members. 

Action: SSTA to share draft questionnaire on behaviour that they plan to run with members.

The following points were confirmed following questions from members:

  • the researchers would consider whether issues such as percentage of time lost due to behaviour could be explored during the qualitative phase
  • support staff will be asked directly about the level of incidents they’ve dealt with so this should provide an accurate picture of challenging behaviour. The researchers would consider scope for exploring issues around underreporting during the qualitative phase
  • the survey asks questions about incidents and abuse in relation to some of the protected characteristics towards both pupils and staff

Restraint and seclusion consultation update

SG thanked members who provided input to the consultation on the draft physical intervention in schools guidance. The consultation closed on 25 October. The current approach to this work reflects the 2019 agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland (CYPCS) that non-statutory guidance be developed as a first step.

The following points were made:

  • the guidance will apply equally to local authority, independent and grant aided schools
  • SG aim to have analysis of consultation completed as early as possible in the new year
  • the physical intervention working group will be reconvened once analysis is completed to discuss any revisions ahead of final publication
  • there is a commitment to evaluate the effectiveness of the guidance one year after publication. SG will work with partners on the evaluation measures
  • the draft guidance sets out the current opportunity to consider strengthening the legal framework. However, it is recognised this is an area with differing views and approaches from stakeholders so SG is very keen to explore carefully
  • SG agreed to keep SAGRABIS in close contact and updated on the guidance

Members fed back some comments that had been raised within their respective responses to the consultation, including considering how the guidance is reflected in pupil behaviour plans and risk assessments, the clarity of the guidance, the importance of providing support to teachers during implementation.

SG confirmed that it will be considering all feedback received and advised the goal is to ensure the guidance is as practical as possible while ensuring the safety of all. SG acknowledged consensus may not be possible in all areas but will do its best to ensure the final guidance is as clear and robust as it can be.  

Recording and monitoring bullying incidents in schools evaluation update

In 2019, a consistent and uniform approach to recording and monitoring incidents of bullying across schools in Scotland was introduced. All schools and local authorities are expected to be using the new approach. SG published guidance to support implementation. 

SAGRABIS members agreed that Education Scotland would undertake an evaluation to establish how successfully the new system had been embedded. The evaluation has been undertaken with the final report drafting underway. SG agreed to write out to SAGRABIS members once the findings were available and next steps would be discussed at the following meeting. 

Action: SG to write out to SAGRABIS members with the findings of the evaluation on recording and monitoring bullying incidents in schools. 

Action: SG and SAGRABIS members to consider next steps of recording and monitoring bullying incidents in schools at the SAGRABIS meeting in March. 


Any other business

NASUWT noted their disappointment that political representation was not available at the meeting. NASUWT also highlighted concerns around classroom behaviour and the opportunity that SAGRABIS as a group has to address some of these issues.

SG advised they would ensure a return to the original format of the group would be resumed (meeting four times per year, twice chaired by the Cabinet Secretary/COSLA, twice informally). SG agreed to set up dates for 2023 as soon as possible.

Action: SG to set up dates for all SAGRABIS meetings in 2023. 

Education Scotland asked for a slot on the next meeting’s agenda to highlight its ongoing work on universal approaches and how this links with the Promise and United Nations Convension on Rights of the Child. 

Action: SG to include item on next agenda for Education Scotland to highlight the ongoing work on universal approaches.

The chair closed the meeting.

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