Analysis: A standardised way of recording Scottish school violence is long overdue

The Scotsman finds 17 different systems used across the nation

Some of systems used by Scottish local authorities to record incidents of school violence sound more like codenames for police operations, or titles for James Bond movies.

There is “SPHERA” in Midlothian, East Lothian, West Lothian, “Violin” in Dundee, “Figtree” in West Dunbartonshire, “i-Trent” in Dumfries and Galloway, “AIRs” in East Renfrewshire, and “CoreHR” in Aberdeen.

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Others have less exotic titles, such as “Business World” in Renfrewshire, while several apparently just use unnamed “in-house” forms, including Aberdeenshire, Highland, Perth and Kinross, South Lanarkshire, South Ayrshire, Moray, and East Dunbartonshire.

School pupils. David Jones/PA WireSchool pupils. David Jones/PA Wire
School pupils. David Jones/PA Wire

A few, including Argyll and Bute, Stirling and Inverclyde, record incidents on their SEEMiS systems, while eight councils said they used Evotix Assure.

Glasgow City, the nation’s largest council, did not even appear to have dedicated system, saying “in most cases incidents of this nature would be recorded in pastoral notes”.

However, when asked in a freedom of information request for a breakdown by school of incidents, the authority said: “The level of detail that you have requested is neither captured separately, nor held centrally by the council or by anyone else on the council’s behalf as it is recorded in pastoral notes.”

In total, The Scotsman counted 17 different systems at the 28 councils which provided the information.

The lack of standardisation across Scotland, as well as the lack of agreed guidelines for what should and should not be reported, means it is impossible to ascertain the true level of violence in the country’s schools, and as a result, the extent of any upward or downward trend.

Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth has long been aware of the issue, describing it as “problematic” that there are “lots of disparate approaches”, and she has backed action to address the mishmash.

The issue was also discussed at length at a school violence summit last September, but there appears to have been little progress since then.

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As council budgets are squeezed ever tighter, the introduction of a potentially expensive new software system would not be without its challenges.

But understanding the true scale of violence in schools is essential if those in charge are serious about finding solutions.



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