Why is ESAS needed?
Whilst there is much good practice in Scotland, many schools, young people and other partners have recognised that there is a lack of focus on gender-based violence as a major concern for schools, and limited guidance and support available to help them address it comprehensively.
Calls for change
- Children and young people in the Everyday Heroes consultation for the Equally Safe delivery plan identified a range of priorities for tackling gender inequality and gender-based violence in schools including: greater involvement of children and young people in tackling these issues; addressing gendered attitudes, stereotypes and biases; embedding education into the curriculum; robust teacher training (pre-qualification and continuous professional development); and improving responses to young people who have experienced gender-based violence. (Houghton et al 2018) Houghton, C., Dawson, K. and Whelton, M. (2018), Everyday Heroes Gender Inequality and Societal Attitudes Report.
- The EIS’s Get It Right For Girls research looking at misogynistic attitudes amongst children and young people found that: “…educational establishments require more support to develop more consistent, coherent approaches to the promotion of gender equality and towards tackling the problem of the sexual harassment and bullying of young women and girls, and of boys and young men who are gay or who are judged by others to be failing to ‘conform’ to gender norms.” (EIS 2016) EIS (2016), Get It Right for Girls
- The Scottish Government Gender Equality Taskforce in Education and Learning was established in 2020 in response to a recommendation from the First Minister’s National Advisory Council on Women and Girls that a commission be established to provide: “… bold and far-reaching recommendations on how gender equality can be embedded in all aspects of learning (from teacher training, to school behaviours/cultures, to the curriculum and CLD practice) …” (GETEL 2020) GETEL 2020
Recognising capacity and workload challenges
During the development and pilot of ESAS many partners and stakeholders, including schools, were involved in conversations about how best to develop a dedicated framework for schools to tackle gender-based violence, whilst taking into account the capacity and workload challenges facing schools and teachers. It was also important to ensure compatibility with key educational frameworks and policies, and to complement existing resources for addressing gender inequality and gender-based violence.
ESAS has therefore been developed with the aim of bringing greater attention and focus to the issue of gender-based violence - but with an emphasis on ease of use. For example:
- The interactive website has tools built in to make it easy to monitor and report on progress, to communicate across the school community, to enable staff and students to work together, and to gather staff and student perspectives on progress.
- The website also includes a basic-level staff e-learning module that has been developed in view of the limited time available to schools for staff training (and can be complemented by face-to-face enhanced-level training available locally)