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

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

Attendees and apologies


  • COSLA Spokesperson for Children and Young People (Chair)
  • Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills
  • Association of Directors of Education Scotland (ADES)
  • Association of Headteachers and Deputies Scotland (AHDS)
  • Education Analytical Services, Scottish Government
  • Education Scotland
  • Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS)
  • General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS)
  • National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS)
  • respectme
  • ScotCen Social Research
  • Scottish Council of Deans of Education (SCDE)
  • Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA)
  • Support and Wellbeing Unit, Scottish Government (Secretariat)

Items and actions

Welcome, apologies and introductions

The chair welcomed attendees and in particular, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills. No apologies had been received.

The chair noted the minutes from the previous meeting, held on 11 May, had been circulated for information and invited comments from members. Members agreed the minutes and these will now be published on the Scottish Government website.

Action: SG to publish minutes from 11 May on the Scottish Government website

Behaviour in Scottish Schools Research (BISSR) draft report

The chair welcomed researchers from ScotCen Social Research to the meeting. The chair highlighted that researchers from ScotCen Social Research who are conducting BISSR, attended the December SAGRABIS meeting to give members an overview of the research methodology and timetable. The chair advised that the research had now concluded and invited ScotCen colleagues to provide an overview of findings.

ScotCen colleagues began by outlining the study's objectives and methodology. A brief summary of the key findings was then provided relating to:

  • Overall perceptions of behaviour
  • Changes over time between 2016 and 2023
  • Longer term changes over time (since 2006)
  • Reasons for changes in behaviour
  • Impact of COVID-19
  • Impact of behaviour
  • Suggested modifications to approaches

The Chair welcomed any feedback from SAGRABIS members relating to the information presented. Some points members raised were:

  • The presentation was informative and the themes coming through resonate with a lot of the experiences being heard on the ground
  • The drop in response rate from the 2016 research was noted and it was queried whether the research was still representative. The researchers confirmed that the data was weighted in order to ensure it was representative
  • The seven-year gap between this research and the previous report was highlighted, whereas the previous gaps were three to four years. It was suggested that the scale used in the graphs should be amended to represent this more accurately. so the angle of the graphs was in keeping with the change over time. The researchers confirmed they would look at this
  • The findings regarding racist abuse and transphobia experienced by staff were queried. The researchers confirmed demographic information on such characteristics was not collected. Members noted that this may lead to incidents relating to protected characteristics being under represented in the research and that this limitation of the methodology should be made explicit within the report. The researchers noted this feedback and agreed to review how this information was presented
  • It was important to focus also on the positive information from the report and highlight areas where good work could be built upon
  • The COVID-19 reflections were helpful but there were already trends before COVID-19. The researchers agreed there was already a trajectory of some of the issues and the report included reflections from some staff that Covid-19 impact has accelerated existing trends
  • A priority needed to be a focus on solutions to address the findings from the research once published
  • There may be a role for HMIe in monitoring school experiences and practices around behaviour.
  • It was noted that addressing these issues are not only the responsibility of the school and that there should be a community approach in addressing this
  • It was noted that this research did not include engagement with pupils or parents. It was considered useful in future to gather the views of parents, carers, children and young people as part of the research to ensure a rounded perspective to the issues.

Action: SG to explore options for gathering views and experiences of parents, carers, children and young of behaviour in schools

The chair advised that there would be more detailed consideration of the findings  by the Research Advisory Group, comprised of members of SAGRABIS. A final, confidential and embargoed copy of the report will then be provided to SAGRABIS members immediately prior to publication.

SAGRABIS members confirmed they were content with SG publishing the BISSR report, subject to the above process.

Relationships and behaviour Summits

The chair noted that the first behaviour summit was held on 5 September, with a focus on recording and monitoring incidents in schools.

As part of that, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills held frank and open discussions with teachers, parents, council officials and wider stakeholders about the importance of having a robust system of recording and monitoring incidents in schools.

The Cabinet Secretary was invited to provide her reflections on the first summit. The Cabinet Secretary provided an overview of the first summit and highlighted all of this work is leading up to the final summit where the BISSR evidence will be considered . The key findings were highlighted, the approaches to recording and monitoring and consistency around this.

SG provided an overview of the upcoming summits later in October and November.

SG confirmed that the next meeting with SAGRABIS would be in December or early January.


No other business was raised.

The chair thanked members and closed the meeting.

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