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Supporting the workforce to care, including teachers, was one of the key underpinnings of the Independent Care Review. This is why Scotland must respond to the stark findings that were included in the Behaviour in Scottish schools: research report 2023 published this week. Teachers or any other staff members within our schools cannot and must not feel unsafe or distressed in their day to day work.  

The national action plan from the Scottish Government is welcome. As the national action plan is developed , the voices of children and families must be at the heart of the conversation on how to make Scotland’s schools inclusive communities. This must mean listening to the voices of those who can sometimes be heard the least. The distinct experiences of care experienced pupils are not referenced in the BISSR research, this is an area of improvement for further iterations of this important research.  

It is also imperative that as the Scottish Government, local authorities and others consider next steps, we do not confuse action with progress. Evidence based relational and restorative approaches must be not jettisoned. These approaches can and do work when they are properly resourced and implemented. Equally, Scotland is committed to the incorporation of the UNCRC, and any responses must be consistent with Scotland’s commitment to be a rights respecting nation for all our children.  

A review of exclusions policy has also been called for as part of the national plan. Any direction that Scotland takes in seeking to increase rather than reduce exclusions would be a grave error. This is not only because it would be antithetical to the conclusion of the Independent Care Review that exclusions for care experienced pupils should end, it is also the case that exclusions can exacerbate existing trauma, and are linked to poor attainment and non-attendance. The Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime identified school exclusion, as one of the strongest predictors of future offending. Exclusions do not address the consequences of behaviour, it merely displaces it. 

Fundamentally, behaviour in schools tells us a snapshot about a child’s life, but they do not tell us the whole story. That story is shaped by their family life and that is shaped by wider socio-economic factors. These are not issues that teachers, or their colleagues in schools, can address on their own. Structural root causes require structural interventions, including measures to address child poverty and the provision of preventive and holistic family support to families as long as they need it.  

Schools should be places where there are relationships and opportunities for each and every child, and Scotland must support these communities to flourish, as a part of the promise it made to children, families and the care experienced community.  

Kenneth Fleming - Public Affairs Lead
Photo credit: Sarah Maclean

Kenneth Fleming

Public Affairs Lead

Kenneth works with his colleagues so that decision makers in Scotland make choices that will help to #KeepThePromise.

This means providing them with the information and insights generated by his colleagues at The Promise Scotland, and helping to highlight positive stories of change across Scotland.