Scottish Advisory Group on Relationships and Behaviour in Schools minutes: November 2020

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 25 November 2020.

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)
  • Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • School Leaders Scotland (SLS)
  • Association of Directors of Education Scotland (ADES)
  • Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA)
  • Association of Scottish Principal Educational Psychologists (ASPEP)
  • Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS)
  • National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS)
  • Association of Headteachers and Deputies Scotland (AHDS)
  • respectme
  • Rights, Support and Wellbeing Team Education Scotland (ES)
  • Support and Wellbeing Unit, Scottish Government (SG)
  • Education Analytical Services, Scottish Government (EAS)
  • Improvement, Attainment and Wellbeing Division, Scottish Government 


  • General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS)
  • Scottish Council of Deans of Education (SCDE)

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

DFM opened the meeting by thanking everyone for attending. DFM acknowledged the challenging times in schools and noted his thanks and appreciation for the huge efforts undertaken by school staff over the past nine months to ensure safe and nurturing environments to deliver education. 

DFM invited members to send any comments on the previous minutes to SG officials.

Behaviour resources audit

At the previous meeting, NASUWT highlighted their position on zero tolerance of violence against teachers and it was agreed that a resource highlighting existing guidance on relationships and behaviour would be developed which would bring all resources together, to assist school staff in locating support materials on the National Improvement Hub. SG provided an overview of the behaviour resources audit paper and invited comments from members, noting the resource would be published on the National Improvement Hub once finalised. SG also confirmed that this resource would be updated regularly. 

Members raised a number of comments on the paper including: 

  • supportive of the resources being pulled together in one place
  • comprehensive, clear resource which practitioners will welcome
  • suggestion to include a video demonstrating how to speak to different ages of children and young people in a restorative practice approach
  • NASUWT commented that the resource could be overwhelming for staff and that it didn’t address their concerns. SG agreed to pick up with NASUWT out-with the meeting
  • highlights a great range of resources, however we need to ensure that there is time available for staff to undertaken the training
  • suggestion to make resource available on GLOW and local authority websites
  • restorative practice approaches need rebranded; these approaches are part of everyday approaches and positive relationships within the classroom but is often not seen this way


  • SG to liaise with ES about developing  a video in behaviour resources paper
  • SG to meet with NASUWT to discuss further developments on the paper
  • SG and ES to explore the option of publishing the behaviour resources paper on GLOW

Recording and monitoring incidents of bullying evaluation proposal

One of the recommendations from the Recording and Monitoring of Bullying Incidents in Schools (RAMBIS) Working Group was to undertake an evaluation once full implementation had been embedded to assess how successfully the new system for recording and monitoring bullying incidents in schools had been introduced.

SG discussed the evaluation proposal and invited comments from members on the paper. SG highlighted that this work was still in the very early stages of development. 

The evaluation proposal suggests engaging with local authorities on their use of the new approach, including: ensuring SEEMIS is accessible to all, supporting schools, monitoring at authority level and action taken as a result of monitoring. 

The proposal also suggests engaging with schools on their role including: implementing and using the new approach, responding to the data collected and how this is used to inform school practice and ensuring the approach is working for their children and young people. This would include engaging with senior management teams, key staff relating to anti-bullying and the new approach, children and young people across different age groups and parents and carers. 

The evaluation could either be undertaken by Education Scotland or an external independent evaluator. 

Members provided their views on the evaluation proposal. Key comments included:

  • need to be sensitive about the timing of the evaluation given the recent pressures on schools and staff. Suggested to take this forward in the spring
  • generally happy with either of the suggested options to take forward the evaluation, however members suggested an that an external contractor may be better given the recent asks on Education Scotland and current pressures in the education system
  • if an external contractor is to take forward the evaluation, it is imperative they have knowledge about how schools and local authorities operate
  • suggestion to consider the addition of another question which would include any barriers or problems that schools have faced and resolved or not able to overcome in implementing the new approach
  • suggestion to explore the existing violence and aggression policy across authorities, this is reported through Health and Safety
  • evaluation would be welcomed as it would help to identify gaps in the current approach
  • evaluation needs to be sensitive to COVID

SG agreed to update members on this work going forward.


  • SG to update members on any development with the RAMBIS evaluation

Update on BISSR 2020

COSLA Spokesperson took over as Chair at this point.

EAS provided an overview of the BISSR project and next steps, including discussing the new timeline proposed by contractors. 

SG thanked members for their comments on the proposed additional questions around the impact of COVID-19 on behaviour in schools and advised that the questions were now with the contractors. SG agreed to circulate the updated questions to the group, noting that some of the information in this area may be better picked up as part of the qualitative data. 

Comments were invited from members on the BISSR paper. Members raised a number of points, including:

  • generally happy with broad outline of project and timeline
  • for the comparative data, would be good to have a contingency timeline, as some level 4 schools may not be able to participate
  • sensitivities around timings and phone calls to schools on first day back after Christmas break
  • mental health is a big focus of behaviour in schools at the moment

EAS acknowledged the current pressures on school staff while explaining the obligation the Scottish Government has to collect this data.

SG advised they will be in touch in the coming weeks regarding the restructuring of the BISSR Research Action Group (RAG). Members were invited to note their interest in joining the RAG.


  • SG to circulate updated COVID-19 survey questions by 4 December
  • members to let SG know if they are interested in joining the RAG

Views of members on relationships and behaviour since schools have re-opened

Members were invited to share their experiences of the current situation that schools are in since they re-opened, and in particular the impact this is having on relationships and behaviour in schools.

DFM noted general feedback from the Education Recovery group is that there is a high level of compliance from pupils regarding the new measures and restrictions and overall children and young people understand what was expected of them to help protect others. Recent PISA results also demonstrated Scotland’s pupils level of understanding and positive attitude to global and societal issues. 

A number of members of the group reported that behaviour and compliance seemed better overall in schools, mainly because of different structures in place. For example, split intervals meaning less pupils were in one place at the same time, reducing stress on pupils and staff. Members agreed it would be helpful to explore school structure post COVID-19 to establish whether any positive lessons learned can be taken from this.

Other members of the group reported a rise in pupils not complying with measures in schools including not wearing face coverings, not adhering to social distancing and face coverings being left for cleaners and staff to pick up. A number of staff have reported a rise in verbal abuse and feeling unsafe. Increased worry for Special School staff was also highlighted. 


  • members to explore school structures post COVID-19 to establish any positive lessons learned

Update from Education Scotland 

Given the limited time on the agenda, Education Scotland agreed to provide a written update following the meeting.

Update from respectme

Given the limited time on the agenda, respectme agreed to provide a written update following the meeting.

Update physical intervention and seclusion 

This paper was for awareness only and any comments should be emailed to the SG.


AOB was invited from members.

SG provided a brief update on calls to action from The Promise. Officials will engage with SAGRABIS members on this going forward. 

Date for next meeting

The next meeting is likely to take place virtually again in February/March 2021. SG officials will contact members in due course.


  • SG to arrange next SAGRABIS meeting to take place in late February/early March 2021 

Scottish Government 
November 2020

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