Additional Support for Learning Project Board minutes: February 2024

Minutes from the meeting of the group on the 28 February 2024.

Attendees and apologies

  • Scottish Government (SG) (CHAIR)
  • Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Education Scotland (ES)
  • Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)
  • SG Early Learning and Childcare team (SG ELC)
  • Education Institute of Scotland (EIS)
  • National Autism Implementation Team (NAIT)
  • Social Work Scotland (SWS)
  • Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE)
  • ADES Early Years Network
  • National Parent Forum Scotland (NPFS)
  • Allied Health Professionals Leads
  • Audit Scotland (Observer)
  • SG Supporting Learners’ team


  • Grant Aided Special Schools (GASS)
  • Children in Scotland (CiS)
  • Association of Scottish Principal Education Psychologists (ASPEP)
  • ENABLE Scotland

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed members to the Additional Support for Learning (ASL) Project Board meeting. The Chair thanked members who had travelled to attend in person, those who were attending virtually and COSLA for hosting today’s meeting.

Minutes from previous meeting

Members considered the draft minute of 31 January 2024. No amendments were suggested and the minutes were then accepted as an accurate record of the meeting. The following updates on actions agreed at the last meeting were provided.

The Monitoring and Analysis sub-group were to provide updates on the National Measurement Framework (NMF), this will be completed during discussions at this meeting. The Operational and Communications sub-group will re-issue the draft communications strategy to Project Board members to consider, and will discuss comments received at the next sub-group meeting along with how information can be shared at different levels. No further comments on Risk 3 were received following discussions at the previous meeting. SG Workforce team will update on their involvement with Risk 3 and actions they are owners of as part of the request for final pre-publication updates in the ASL Action Plan. Risk 3 will be brought back to a future Project Board meeting. ES provided a brief update and presented an early draft of the scoping exercise the Training and Resources sub-group are developing. Action TP5 from the action plan will be discussed at today's meeting. The ASL Network will be returning as an item on the May Project Board agenda following their first session of 2024 in April. Members were thanked for sharing examples of positive case studies with the Supporting Learners' team. Action LI8 will be an in-focus action during one of the two ASL Project Board meeting this spring. The Supporting Learners' team are currently in discussion with colleagues leading on the Behaviour in Schools Action Plan to agree the best time for them to attend a Project Board meeting to provide updates. Today's meeting will focus entirely on a number of actions included in the ASL Action Plan.

ASL Action Plan deep dive

The Chair introduced this item to the Board. A paper had been shared in advance of the meeting. This paper was a version of the Project Plan that listed a number of actions with imminent deadlines and limited updates on progress. The Chair opened the floor for members to engage in constructive discussion on progress and challenges associated with each of these actions.

The first action introduced was LI25: Through reporting of Children’s Services, Regional Improvement Collaboratives and Annual Education Plans, ADES will support its members to incorporate the findings, such as outcome measures, into improvement planning at local authority level.

ADES noted there are challenges with the emerging changes in relation to the Regional Improvement Collaboratives (RIC) and structure changes within ES. ADES noted they have active work ongoing in relation to promoting sharing working practice, and that it is already taking place through the various ADES networks. ADES noted it would be helpful to know when children's services plan information is collated and ready to share.

ES agreed with the challenges following the restructure. They noted that there is no structure anymore that reflects the old regions, but that they could report on groupings of authorities under the management of Senior Regional Advisors. The RIC reports are still on the ES website and can continue to support this action.


  • Supporting Learners' to contact children's planning team to discuss sharing of children's services plan information.
  • ES and Supporting Learners' to meet to discuss national reporting available on ES website
  • ADES will share any work reports through their ASN Network to support sharing practice

Action LI21 was discussed: Local authorities will support mediation approaches and promote their use as a means of improvement.

Enquire have a significant amount of information available on mediation. It was suggested that this information could be circulated to the ADES ASN Network. It would also be helpful to be able to confirm who is providing mediation services across authorities. SG agreed to collate this information and share with ADES.

NPFS welcomed the discussion on strengthening mediation. They highlighted that we must ensure the school booklets are written with the audience at front of mind are and accessible in schools. It was suggested that we could explore if we could put school booklets on the Parent Portal or school apps for those parents who may not be inside schools as often as others.

COSLA had been in contact with the policy team leading on work on the Baby box. There was agreement that information from Enquire wouldn't be included in the baby box, but that the Parent Club could be a platform to share it. The operational and communications sub-group have the opportunity to work on a draft to put on the Parent Club which will highlight enquire and other services.


  • Supporting Learners' to circulate mediation information to ADES.

Action PC2 was discussed: COSLA’s Children and Young People Board will continue to receive presentations and input from parent and carer representatives.

The COSLA Children and Young People Board represents all 32 local authorities. At the start of each CYP Board meeting presentations are given by various different organisations that changes each meeting. Currently the CYP Board does not have any parent or carer representation, COSLA can consider possibilities of changing that. The COSLA CYP Board gets its parent and carer feedback through other groups updates, such as the ASL Project Board update. COSLA noted they could look into inviting NPFS to a future CYP Board meeting to give a presentation. As this is an ongoing action an exact timeframe was unable to be agreed.


  • COSLA to explore inviting parent/carer representative to attend and give a presentation, and if it could be a standing item yearly or every 6 months

Action PC11 was discussed: The Scottish Government will work with partners, including in health and social work, to enhance the information and signposting provided to parents and carers on additional support for learning, seeking to ensure that parents are informed, empowered and able to access appropriate support from relevant services.

The Supporting Learners Team have discussed as a team and with Enquire. More information will be shared when it is received alongside the actions considered as part of the communications plan. Work is underway and we need to consider how best to capture the narrative to reflect how this has been progressed to date, and how we can demonstrate what work is underway. It was noted this action is not a linear process, there are different ways of working and reviewing input. Consequently, it was agreed that this action's timeframe would be changed to "ongoing".


  • Change action PC11 timeframe to ongoing

Action PC4 was discussed: Local authorities will review the information on additional support for learning and GIRFEC that is provided to parents and carers of Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) and school age children and young people, both online and through resources such as the school handbook, to ensure that it is clear, informative, accessible and provides signposting to appropriate support services.

It was noted that the ELC joint delivery board has not met for some time and is no longer active. This will need to be reflected in relation to this action. Members agreed whilst there are regulations from 2012 that set out information on supporting learners and school handbooks, they are too open to interpretation. It was suggested that we re-visit that and consider how the wording can be strengthened. SG ELC updated the Board that the national strategy for delivery of funded ELC was updated in December 2023 and it includes provisions on requirements in respect of ASL. The Enquire service provide clear information to parents and carers on how to navigate the system of ASL support available.

It was noted that the wording of the action may suggest that this work is only done at local level, and that it needs to state work is being done at local and national level.

Action PC3 was discussed: ADES will continue to promote good examples of joint working with parents, schools and local authorities through current Quality Improvement frameworks, including How Good Is Our School 4.

ADES reinforced that their ADES ASN network offers a regular opportunity to share practice at their meetings. It would be helpful to have work from the Inspectorate represented at these meetings, and shared more regularly. Inspectors are already gathering evidence across Scotland from parents and carers. Having sight of a national overview report of the impact of those findings broken down into themes would provide a strong base for us to consider how we begin to measure this data. Discussions will take place with the scrutiny team to see how that information could be drawn together.

It was raised that a responsibility of parent councils and their partnership work with schools should be highlighted. It would be useful to explore how we can engage with parent councils, informing them of what some of their responsibilities are and potentially creating a resource to showcase good practice and highlight what we are asking for from the parent council.

Members agreed that whilst the structures to enable the action to be completed are in place, there are discussions to be had before the Board can sign it off.


  • Speak to scrutiny team to see if information can be drawn together

Action LI12 was discussed: ADES will work with members of the Project Board on the use of improvement methodology and promote its use at local authority level.

Similar to action PC3, ADES continue to offer regular opportunity to share and promote ongoing work at the ADES ASN Network. ES noted there is work that attainment advisors have been involved in in relation to improvement methodology. This work could be extracted and used to help forward this action.

Action LI5 was discussed: ADES and COSLA will consider how authorities can improve the experiences of children and young people with additional support needs through local commissioning, which has progressed since the Doran Review.

The implementation of the Doran review is ongoing and will continue for a few more years, ending in 2029. There is an opportunity to link this action with the work from the Doran Strategic Commissioning Group, which in the last 6 months has been re-established. It was suggested that the May 2024 deadline for the action should be reconsidered to be aligned closer to the work of the Doran Review through the Strategic Commissioning Group. There are links between the Project Board and the Strategic Commissioning Group that members are keen be strengthened as momentum for Doran Review work grows. It was proposed that Scotland Excel be included in future discussions on this action.

Action TP6 was discussed: As set out in the Bute House Agreement, the Scottish Government will explore with Local Government and partners, the development of an accredited qualification and registration programme for Additional Support Needs assistants with final proposals to be brought forward by autumn 2023.

ES updated the Board that Cabinet Secretary had approved a delay for publication to Spring 2024. Information and training resources for ASN assistants will be available soon. The main working group are looking at professional learning and have agreed for ES to refresh the existing professional learning framework to align with the coming publication. COSLA and ES are on the Pupil Support Staff Working Group and heavily involved in ongoing work. They are planning in linking back in with workforce colleagues following publication to ensure communication remains.


  • Change action TP6 timeframe to Spring 2024.

Action LI19 was discussed: ADES, SOLACE and COSLA will liaise on the approach to be taken at local authority level to ensure that council planning incorporates and makes visible the implications of additional support for learning, building on related work already underway.

A meeting between ADES, SOLACE and COSLA hasn’t taken place yet. There has been progress but the three action owners need to meet to have a clearer understanding of what that progress is. It was suggested that the timeframes associated with this action could be similar to those of the action LI25.


  • ADES, SOLACE and COSLA to meet to discuss action LI19.

Action LI10 was discussed: ADES will consider opportunities to gather robust evidence of the effective relationships between parents and professionals and will work with the Project Board to consider how this can be presented within the measurement framework.

ADES updated that they  and SG officials have met with SG statisticians, Insight and SEEMIS colleagues to review what information exists in the system at this moment. Conversations and considerations on what the first iteration of the NMF will look like are taking place. Information on parents and carer's relationships, evidence published in the national improvement framework (NIF) and feedback collated from young people nationally is being considered. This will be used to highlight work that is underway and draw out good practice case studies. There will be an ask for the relevant teams that hold certain information to share, so that a mock version of the framework can be pulled together.

A draft dashboard will be produced during Spring 2024. Responses to the draft dashboard will then need to be reviewed and analysed. A paper will be brought to the Project Board in May, outlining the next steps for this work and the challenges in place. The paper will set out an initial timeline setting out steps that need to be taken.


  • ADES to present NMF paper at Project Board in May.

Action TP5 was discussed: Following the engagement period, the Pupil Support Staff Working Group will develop vision, values and support for pupil support staff.

The Pupil Support Staff working group met on 27 February, they have a series of webinars to share. They hope to have a couple voluntary sessions running in June. It was proposed the timeframe for completion be moved from March 2023 to June 2024.

The next action discussed was action LI11: Following development of the national measurement framework, the ASL Project Board will consider with partners how to present the information collected in an accessible and meaningful way to ensure that impact can be measured.

This update from this action links in with action LI10. Once the draft dashboard is produced, responses will be analysed and taken into account when updating the dashboard, including ensuring the presentation of collated information is accessible. It was agreed this action’s timeframe be moved from March 2024 to March 2025 to allow time to test early thinking of the NMF as it evolves.


  • Change action LI11 timeframe to March 2025.

Action LI9 was discussed: The ASL Project Board will develop a national measurement framework to capture the range of successes and achievements of children and young people with additional support needs.

This action's update links in with action LI10. A draft NMF dashboard will be produced during Spring 2024.

Action CYP10 was discussed: The Scottish Government will undertake a programme of internal engagement and awareness raising to raise the profile of children and young people with additional support needs.

It was proposed to ASL Project Board members this action be listed as completed. Engagement is ongoing across various areas such as: Education Reform; National Discussion; Hayward review; ELC and Mental Health. Whilst it was proposed to be listed as completed, it was noted this will continue to be monitored, as an ongoing action. Members were content this action be marked as complete.


  • Change action CYP10 to be marked as complete.

Action CYP9 was discussed: The Scottish Government will work with the ASL Project Board and partners to undertake a mapping exercise to capture the breadth of policy development aligned to additional support for learning.

The draft mapping exercise has been shared with ASL Project Board members on separate occasions and members have provided some comments that have been incorporated. It was proposed, and accepted by members to mark this action as complete whilst understanding it will be an ongoing piece of work. Following the development of the mapping exercise, discussions should take place around how it can be used best and shared with stakeholders

Action CYP4 was discussed: ADES will share and promote the participation and engagement resources developed by the Young Ambassadors for Inclusion and encourage schools and authorities to consider establishing local networks of children and young people to be involved in discussions around additional support for learning development and implementation.

ADES are keen to work with the Young Ambassadors for Inclusion and noted they will invite an Ambassador representative to the ADES ASN network to promote the work they are taking forward.


  • ADES to invite inclusion ambassador representative to future ADES ASN Network

The Chair thanked members for their valued contributions. SG and COSLA have begun drafting the ASL Action Plan Progress Report and will share the first draft at the next Project Board in March. The Chair requested that final updates on actions should be submitted by Wednesday 20th March to allow the draft report to be updated in time for the Project Board meeting.


  • Members to provide final action plan updates for the draft progress report to the Supporting Learners’ Team by 20th March.

Any other business

No other business was raised and the Chair brought the meeting to a close.

Date of next meeting

The Project Board will meet next on the 27th March.


Scottish Government


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