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Parliamentary Debates and Questions

S5W-08512: Rachael Hamilton (South Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 30 March 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what procedures are in place to ensure that schools provide a safe environment for their students and staff, free from all forms of discrimination.

Answered by: John Swinney 18 April 2017

The Scottish Government want all children and young people to be free from discrimination so that they can learn and reach their full potential. That is why education in Scotland is underpinned by polices and legislation which have equality and diversity at their hearts, such as Curriculum for Excellence, Additional Support for Learning, GIRFEC and the Equality Act. In this way we help schools and local authorities work towards eliminating discrimination, advancing equality of opportunity and fostering good relations.

We recognise too that pupil safety and wellbeing begins with a whole-school ethos which is founded on positive relationships. Authorities and schools have available to them a range of strategies and approaches for promoting positive relationships and behaviour. Support and training in these approaches is provided by Education Scotland’s Rights, Support and Wellbeing Team.

The safety of school staff and school staff’s responsibilities under equality legislation are matters for individual local authorities as their employers. In terms of teacher responsibilities to pupils, the Standards for Registration set by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) require teachers to commit to the principles of democracy and social justice through fair, transparent, inclusive and sustainable policies and practices in relation to the protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010. The GTCS's Code of Professionalism and Conduct on Equality and Diversity require teachers to engage and work positively with pupils, help pupils understand different views, perspectives and experiences and develop positive relationships as well as recognise that they are role models.