Scottish Advisory Group on Relationships and Behaviour in Schools minutes: December 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the Scottish Government’s Advisory Group on Relationships and Behaviour in Schools for December 2023

Attendees and apologies


  • COSLA (Chair)
  • Education Scotland
  • respectme
  • Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA)
  • National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS)
  • School Leaders Scotland (SLS)
  • Association of Directors of Education Scotland (ADES)
  • Association of Headteachers and Deputies Scotland (AHDS)
  • Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS)
  • Support and Wellbeing Unit, Scottish Government


  • General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS)
  • Association of Scottish Principal Educational Psychologists (ASPEP)
  • Scottish Council of Deans of Education (SCDE)

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies

The chair welcomed attendees and noted apologies. The chair highlighted that the minutes from the previous meeting had already been circulated and approved so were provided for information only.

Update from relationships and behaviour summit

The chair provided an overview of the series of summit events that had been held with a wide range of stakeholders on relationships and behaviour in schools:

  • One in September on recording and monitoring incidents
  • One in October on relationships and behaviour approaches
  • One in November on the Behaviour in Scottish Schools research (BISSR).

 The chair confirmed there has been a huge amount of information and ideas generated at these events and that Scottish Government officials were continuing to analyse these. The chair acknowledged the findings of BISSR are challenging. While the majority of pupils remain well behaved, there has been an increase in disruptive behaviours, including violence and abuse.

The chair welcomed thoughts from members on the research and summits.

Members highlighted that the findings of the research are not surprising and resonate with experiences on the ground. Important to be mindful of the impact that these experiences can have on the mental health and the vulnerability of school staff.

Some members noted a discomfort around the messaging that had come out to date from the press and politicians, including that the announcement of funding for training was felt to put blame on to staff. There were also concerns raised about the new training resources not having been discussed with unions in advance of their publication.

SG clarified that the funding announced was to provide support for support staff, such as training. BISSR found that support staff were more likely to report experience of most negative behaviours, and they themselves requested more support, such as training. The funding is therefore to respond directly to that. SG is working with COSLA confirm arrangements for the distribution of this funding.

Unison highlighted that support staff were positive about the summits and working together going forward. NPFS welcomed the commitment to work with parents and carers.

Draft action plan

The chair advised that the Cabinet Secretary confirmed during her statement to Parliament in November that the Scottish Government would develop a multi-year plan to tackle instances of challenging behaviour, working with local authorities, trade unions and others.

SG confirmed that the action plan will be developed in collaboration with SAGRABIS. It was agreed that SG would lead on the drafting of the plan, with input from SAGRABIS members on the content which would be shared for comment and discussion at future meetings. The intention was that the final action plan would be approved and endorsed by SAGRABIS. Members agreed to the process outlined by SG for developing the action plan.

SG had begun an initial plan outline, structured around the key themes of BISSR, to ensure a clear link back to BISSR during the drafting process. It was confirmed that the final plan would be structured around outcomes, given the overlap between several of the themes.

SG welcomed thoughts from the group on what actions they would like to see and consider.

SG confirmed that the Support and Wellbeing Unit lead on a number of the other streams of work that link into the plan, for example around gender-based violence, racism and racist incidents and anti-bullying so there would be coordination, rather than duplication, of work. SG will ensure the action plan is reflected in other pieces of work.

It was suggested that a different term from ‘in school truancy’ was required. This term refers to pupils in school but not attending their classes. It was suggested that ‘in-school non-attendance’ should be the current working term.

NASUWT suggested that behavioural and lack of consequences should sit at the top of the action plan and filter down to impact and shape the other bullets below.

There was a suggestion to include a resource section at the end of the action plan to help bridge the gap between the plan and implementation.

It was suggested it would be helpful to have timeframes set against actions. The plan will cover 3 years and therefore would cover short, medium and longer-term actions.

SG noted the proposal to reflect the role of others, including communities and justice and health sectors, in delivering actions within the plan. This was to acknowledge that schools would not be able to address all concerns on their own.

NASUWT requested a clear sense/statement from the Cabinet Secretary or the Scottish Government around behavioural approaches and consequences, stating what is and is not acceptable as well as a shared understanding around reporting. It is key not to blame teachers in the language.

SG thanked members for their comments and confirmed that the aim is to publish the plan early in the new year.

SG agreed to circulate action plan for input from SAGRABIS members, and bring back to the next meeting in January.

Action: SG to revise the plan in line with the discussion, and share an updated action plan with members for input

Action: SAGRABIS members to provide SG with suggested actions/ amendments for the plan by mid January


No other business was raised. The chair closed the meeting

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