Scottish Advisory Group on Relationships and Behaviour in Schools minutes: June 2019

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 13 June 2019.

Attendees and apologies


  • Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills (DFM) (joint chair)
  • Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) Spokesperson (joint chair)
  • National Associations of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT)
  • Scottish Government, Health and Wellbeing Unit
  • Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA)
  • Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS)
  • National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS)
  • Association of Directors of Education Scotland (ADES)
  • Education Scotland, Rights, Support and Wellbeing Team
  • Association of Scottish Principal Educational Psychologists (ASPEP)
  • School Leaders Scotland (SLS)
  • Education Analytical Services, Scottish Government


  • General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS)
  • COSLA 
  • Association of Headteachers and Deputies Scotland (AHDS)
  • Scottish Council of Deans of Education (SCDE)
  • Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA)
  • respectme

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

DFM opened the meeting by thanking everyone for attending. Members introduced themselves and who they represented.

The minutes from the previous meeting were then agreed, with one small change.  

DFM added that similar stakeholder groups were now publishing their minutes on the Scottish Government website, and asked members if they would be content for SAGRABIS minutes to be published going forward. No objections to this proposal were noted.

NASUWT items – violence at work, behaviour management policies, bullying and equalities module

It was agreed that the bullying and equalities module would be discussed under agenda item 7.

The recent NASUWT questionnaire revealed that 82% of members believed that violence at work was a UK widespread problem, whilst 91% of Scottish membership believed this was a problem. NASUWT have called on employers to demonstrate teachers safety, and put posters up. Specifically, Fife have their own model.  SAGRABIS were asked to consider whether the group should send a clear national message that no teacher should be subjected to any kind of assault.

It was also highlighted that there are a number of behaviour management policies, and it would be useful to review the different models across the country to gain consistency.  

In discussion the following points were raised: 

  • each local authority should have in place HR policies to give staff a route to follow should an incident of violence occur.
  • in order for a cultural change to be achieved, schools needed to embrace the approach of restorative approaches, including having all senior management on board. Such an approach is long term, and therefore results will not be achieved overnight
  • ASPEP are key partners in this approach
  • noted that the ethos and climate of the school is pivotal to this approach

A query was raised in relation to NASUWT’s stance on zero tolerance, and whether this meant a pupil should automatically be excluded. In response it was clarified that some teachers believe that the fault for these incidents is being placed on them, rather than the pupil and that because there is such a heavy focus on ethos, that behaviour is being overlooked.  

In response the following comments were made

  • ethos is fundamental, but noted two issues to this – how can this be encouraged when it is not working, and how to make sure that exclusions are not encouraged
  • local government unacceptable actions policies should be in place for such incidents
  • ASPEP have noticed the cultural change from authoritative to permissive, and they are concerned that high levels of aggressive behaviour is a wellbeing concern
  • it was confirmed that the EIS position is zero tolerance where any incidents of violence occur. Police should be called immediately
  • it was also noted that restorative practice is a lengthy process, a view that differed slightly from NASUWT. The EIS view is that if there is a more positive ethos, then it is easier to instigate restorative behaviour approaches. However, frustration in the rise of incidents from the NASUWT perspective was recognised
  • the NPFS view was that there was little consequence for pupils who instigate violence

The Chair noted that this had been a useful discussion, and reiterated that any incident of violence on a teacher is firstly an HR issue. He then raised the question of how examples of positive ethos and best practice can be made more easily available. Scottish Government and Education Scotland officials then offered to look at the materials on the National Improvement Hub, and gather examples of good practice already being implemented to give strong steer to schools. In reviewing the materials, officials will also ensure that there are sufficient links to mainstreaming and ASL in this.  


  • SG/Education Scotland officials to review support materials on behaviour, including good practice exemplars, on the National improvement hub

Restraint and seclusion

DFM departed at this point and COSLA took over as chair. Scottish Government and Education Scotland officials then delivered a presentation to the group, discussing the findings of recent work undertaken with all 32 local authorities.  

Following this, there was then some discussion on the presentation, particularly around the definition of seclusion that currently sits within IEI2, and that the understanding of this differs widely across local authorities.

EIS had recently held a meeting with the Children’s Commissioner in relation to teachers duty, and EIS are currently discussing this with their lawyers. However, the view of EIS is that there should not be mandatory training. They are also against national data collection. 

COSLA confirmed they are supportive of inviting the Commissioner to join the working group. SSTA echoed the view of EIS around mandatory training. NASUWT stated that the motion at their recent conference was that guidance should be there to keep teachers safe and also recommended that teachers should be included in the October summit. ADES commented that the practice should be about protecting not only the children and young people but the staff as well. EIS queried whether the findings made a specific distinction between special and other schools. It was confirmed there was little difference in the detail.  

Update on BISSR 2020

Scottish Government officials discussed the paper with the group, noting the key dates, and then asked for comments. EIS queried why the qualitative work would be undertaken in March/April time, and expressed concerns that this time may be unsuitable for secondary schools.

ADES queried what area the qualitative work would focus on, and suggested that a theme/focus should be agreed on. EIS also queried whether special schools/units would be included in this research. Scottish Government officials agreed to look at this going forward.  

ASL review/AGASL group

Scottish Government officials confirmed that a review on additional support for learning would begin in January 2020. DFM has agreed the terms of reference for this review, and an independent chair will be appointed, hopefully in August. The review will be split into three phases.  he first phase will be a desk review from 2017-2019, the second phase will draw up a series of recommendations, with the third phase being a joint response. Scottish Government officials will work closely with COSLA.

In addition, it was confirmed that the AGASL group will now be reborn, with a new name and new membership, consisting of eight key stakeholders, with the previous AGASL being the reference for the group.

Scottish Government are also running an additional support for learning summit, which will take place on 1st October. Invites will be distributed in due course.

Update on Included Engaged and Involved Part 1

Scottish Government officials provided an update on the progress made to date on this document. This will be published on 14 June, and an email will go out to all Directors of Education with a link to this. Additionally, SAGRABIS will also receive an email. At the recent engagement sessions, it was suggested that a self-evaluation checklist would be a useful resource to complement the guidance. It was confirmed that officials are in the process of drafting this, and this will be published.  

It was also confirmed that plans are currently being made to hold a number of implementation events across the country, similar to those held when IEI Part 2 was published. This would likely be in autumn 2019.

Recording and monitoring of bullying in schools

Scottish Government officials delivered a presentation giving the group an update on current progress. They were also keen to gather the views of SAGRABIS as to whether the group would be comfortable in overseeing the evaluation of the recording and monitoring. The NASUWT view was that this would sit particularly well with SAGRABIS. EIS expressed concern at the time this may take during meetings of the group.  

Update from Education Scotland

As previous agenda items had overran, it was suggested that a short paper be circulated giving members an update from Education Scotland after the meeting. This was agreed, and this will be shared with members with the minutes.  

Update from respectme

As the respectme representative was unable to attend, a paper detailing the progress of work that respectme have was circulated in advance of the meeting. No queries were raised.

EIS AGM resolutions

EIS raised the issue that there has been a reduction in teachers with special qualifications, and what could be done to resolve this. There had also been no review of the physical environment. Scottish Government stated that whilst there may be scope to review, this would be more appropriate to raise with the AGASL group.


EIS shared copies of their recent report on Additional Support for Learning in Scottish schools.

Education Scotland shared on behalf of Gillean McCluskey that she has been given a grant to undertake a project looking at exclusions across the UK. Gillean’s remit in this will be to undertake research into successful interventions, as well as restorative approaches and other such successful practices. Gillean will keep SAGRABIS up to date with progress in due course.

Date of next meeting

Likely to be September/October. SG officials will contact members in due course.

Back to top