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National Strategic Commissioning Group

National Strategic Commissioning Group (NSCG)

Remit for the Strategic Commissioning Group for Provision of National Services for Children and Young People with Complex Additional Support Needs 


The Strategic Commissioning of National Services was proposed in the ‘The Right Help in the Right Place at the Right Time’ An independent Strategic Review of Learning Provision for Children and Young People with Complex Additional Support Needs conducted by Peter Doran and published in November 2012.

In the Scottish Government response to the recommendations of the review, also published in November 2012 the Scottish Government committed to: -

“….build on the work of the Review to create a clear and transparent strategic commissioning process for the allocation of national funding. We will work with the sector, parents and pupils to establish how national funding can best enhance the capacity of the system to support all children and young people with complex additional support needs achieve their full potential.”

Purpose, Values and Principles

These set out the parameters within which the group should operate.


  • develop and, following ministerial approval, communicate a 10 year strategy for the provision of strategically commissioned national services for learning provision for children and young people with complex additional support needs.
  • review the long term strategy every 2 years
  • within funding limits set by ministers, develop, and following ministerial approval, communicate and oversee the implementation of a 3 year cyclical commissioning plan that supports the 10 year strategy with the first commissioned services to be in place by the start of the 2017/18 academic year.
  • collectively and individually communicate with stakeholders to promote openness and transparency
  • identify the resources need to support the group
  • identify and commission as appropriate additional information or expert input required to support the commissioning process.
  • make proposals for commissioned services, including their funding, that are aligned with related policy developments across education health and social care.
  • ensure that recommendations do not disadvantage children and young people currently in receipt of services.
  • Review the membership of the group every 2 years and make recommendations to ministers about changes to membership if required.


Margaret Orr has been appointed to Chair the National Strategic Commissioning Group.  Margaret has worked within the education sector since 1977, initially as an English teacher in Glasgow before focussing her career on additional support needs. Latterly she was Head of ASN in Glasgow City Education Directorate from 1996 – 2008 having previously been an ASN Advisor in Strathclyde and prior to that Principal Teacher of ASN. She also has experience of senior management within the secondary sector. Throughout her career she has established a direct working relationship with a range of local authority and independent providers. She has also served on a number of national forums, including the Riddell Committee on Severe Low Incidence Disability.

Margaret’s most recent engagement with Education through Care Scotland (EtCS) has focused on leadership development and the introduction of Professional Update. She is currently the link person with the General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS) on behalf of EtCS.  This work has complemented her experience and knowledge gained while working in the local authority and Education Scotland on leadership development and self-evaluation within mainstream and specialist settings. Working with the independent providers has brought particular insights in terms of the professional learning profile which best reflects the expertise required by teachers addressing the needs of children and young people with complex additional support needs and the related requirements re training and development.


The Scottish Government will provide secretariat support to the group. Where expert support, for example in relation to policy, procurement or legal issues is required these will be sourced through the secretariat.


NSCG Members

  • Caroline Amos, North Ayrshire Council representing Association of Directors of Education Scotland (ADES)

  • David Barr, Aberlour representing Coalition of Care & Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS) & Educating Through Care Scotland (ETCS)

  • Donna Bell, Deputy Director for the Learning Directorate, Scottish Government

  • Carolyn Brown, Fife Council representing The Association of Scottish Principal Educational Psychologists  (ASPEP)

  • Owen Derrick, National Parent Forum Scotland

  • Megan Farr, Children & Young People's Commissioner Scotland

  • Richard Hellewell, Royal Blind School representing Grant Aided Special Schools (GASS)

  • Andy Jeffries, Head of Service representing Social Work Scotland (SWS)

  • Alex Little, NHS Dumfries & Galloway representing NHS Chief Executives

  • Steven McPherson, Education Scotland

  • Ruth Mendel, Scottish Council of Independent Schools

  • Paul Nisbet, CALL Scotland representing the grant funded national centres, Scottish Sensory Centre (SSC) & Enquire

  • Jane O'Donnell, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)

  • Margaret Orr (Chair)

Scottish Government Officials (Project Management Team)

  • Fiona Page, Support and Wellbeing Unit, Scottish Government

  • Deborah Lynch, Support and Wellbeing Unit, Scottish Government (Secretariat)

  • Laura Meikle, Support and Wellbeing Unit, Scottish Government

  • Deborah Walker, Support and Wellbeing Unit, Scottish Government