School violence Scotland: Jenny Gilruth signals education 'action plan' will emerge within weeks

The SNP minister will make a Holyrood statement before the end of the year

Education secretary Jenny Gilruth has said details of a new "national action plan” to tackle school violence will begin to emerge within the next few weeks.

She will make a statement to Parliament later this year on the strategy, which will follow an ongoing series of summits on classroom disorder.

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Ms Gilruth promised to hold the meetings in May amid growing public concern at a reported rise in violence and poor behaviour in schools in the wake of the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Student Raising Hand To Ask Question In Classroom. Picture: Adobe StockStudent Raising Hand To Ask Question In Classroom. Picture: Adobe Stock
Student Raising Hand To Ask Question In Classroom. Picture: Adobe Stock

In June, the education secretary convened the first meeting of the headteacher task force, which is focused on school exclusions. Then, in September and October, she hosted two meetings discussing relationships and behaviour in schools.

A third event will take place later this month to discuss long-awaited Behaviour in Scottish Schools Research, which is expected to provide accurate data on any rise in incidents.

Labour’s Alex Rowley quizzed Ms Gilruth on the plans in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, saying: “We need to put discipline and behaviour back on the top of the agenda as a condition of being in school.”

Ms Gilruth said her aim for the summit process was to work with teachers and other stakeholders to “identify practical actions that we need to take to make progress”.

She said: “We use the findings from the summit process and the Behaviour in Scottish Schools Research, which gives us the national picture, to help to inform the national action plan.

“Subject to the agreement of Parliament, I intend to bring forward a statement later this year to that end.”

Ms Gilruth suggested the new action plan might replace or update existing national guidance focused on attendance and exclusion policies, known as “Included, Engaged and Involved”.

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Some commentators have criticised a dramatic reduction in exclusions in Scotland in recent years, with the focus instead being on “restorative practice”, such as holding meetings with the pupils involved.

A review of national anti-bullying guidance is also to be influenced by the findings from the summits.

Meanwhile, Ms Gilruth has already said in an interview with The Scotsman that she would back a new standard across Scotland for recording violent incidents in school, with teaching unions calling for such a culture change.



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