Additional Support for Learning Project Board minutes: January 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 30 January 2023

Attendees and apologies

  • Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Scottish Government (SG)
  • Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)
  • Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS)
  • Education Scotland (ES)
  • Scottish Government, Supporting Learners'
  • Scottish Government, Early Learning and Childcare
  • Association of Scottish Principle Educational Psychologists (ASPEP)
  • National Autism Implementation Team (NAIT)
  • National Parent Forum Scotland (NPFS)
  • Children in Scotland (CiS)


  • Social Work Scotland (SWS)
  • Public Health Scotland (PHS)
  • Grant Aided Special Schools (GASS)
  • ENABLE Scotland

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed members to the first hybrid meeting of the Additional Support for Learning (ASL) Project Board, and thanked COSLA for hosting the meeting. The Chair also thanked members that had travelled to attend in person, as well as those who had attended virtually.

The Chair noted that the Board’s representation from ENABLE Scotland has moved roles and will no longer sit on the Project Board. The Chair thanked them for their work on the Project Board and for their leadership of its predecessor, the Additional Support for Learning Implementation Group. A new member will be agreed to represent ENABLE Scotland at future meetings.

Minutes from previous meeting

Members were presented with a set of minutes from the Board’s previous meeting on 26 October 2022. These minutes were agreed as an accurate record of the meeting and published on the Project Board’s website. Members provided the following updates on the actions agreed at the last meeting.

Comments were received on the ASL Action Plan. These comments were reflected and the Action Plan was published. Along with the publication of the 2nd progress report and action plan, an easy read version of the Action Plan progress report was published, as well as a children and young people version and a parent and carer version.

A risk register is under development and will reflect the outcomes of discussions during the risk analyis agenda item during this meeting. A project planner has been developed and will be discussed during this meeting. 

A meeting date for Audit Scotland to attend the Project Board is still to be agreed.

Members were to contact the Supporting Learners' team if they were interested in joing the communications sub group. This sub group along with the other Project Board workstreams will be discussed during this meeting.

Further engagement with the team leading the national discussion within the Scottish Government has confirmed the inclusion of additional support for learning voices and the inclusion of children and young people with additional support needs.

Comments received by Project Board members on the ASL Network terms of reference were reflected and passed onto ASL Network members at their meeting who were largely content. Members were encouraged to provide any final comments following that. ASPEP confirmed their representation on the Network.

The Supporting Learners’ team will develop an action log for the Project Board to track progress with agreed actions between meetings. This allow progress to be noted and outstanding updates to be sought.

Since the Project Board last met the first meeting of the ASL Network took place on 30 November 2022. The minutes from that meeting were shared with members for their awareness.

Additional Support for Learning Action Plan reflections

The Chair introduced this update to the Board.

The ASL Action Plan and Progress Report had been successfully published on the 30 November 2022, this included child friendly, parent friendly and easy read versions. It was recognised this was an intense piece of work for everyone, lots of work had gone into this by members of the Board and other partners. There were successes, but also challenges during the process. The Chair invited members to share their experiences and challenges throughout this process, and what we could possibly do make the next reporting period smoother.

There was a mutual agreement from the Board that the main challenge was the size of the action plan, making reporting on each action on a tight timescale extremely challenging. There were also instances of repetition in the action plan. Members also noted there is the option of linking actions together as a way to reduce the size of the action plan.

To combat these challenges and make the next reporting period more refined the Board must consider the actions in the plan and agree how they will distribute the work amongst each other. The Board must agree what they believe to be the most critical and urgent actions, and then evaluate an order to provide updates in. The Supporting Learner’s team will suggest prioritisation to the Board in a forthcoming meeting for consideration.

The Project Plan has been introduced to help with this, and will be a standing item on the agenda for future Project Board meetings going forward. This will ensure we are regularly communicating and assessing the actions we are seeking to deliver.

Risk analysis

The Supporting Learners’ team introduced this item, with a paper shared in advance of the meeting for consideration.

At our previous meeting risks arose through discussion around challenge, measuring impact and capacity and capability. In addition to these, the Board also agreed to take on more strategic risks that directly affect the action plan. The risks identified and shared with the Board for discussion were:


  • How do we ensure buy-in, contribution to delivery and accountability from all delivery partners.


  • How do we ensure that ministers, political leaders and the children’s services, children, young people and their families are assured that delivery will make a difference to children, young people and their families?


  • How do we communicate the changes we are making? How do we ensure that progress made is recognised?

ES noted that the identified risks are all interlinked, so progress against the risks can be aligned.

ADES referred back to an earlier discussion around prioritising and the potential to link certain actions together, noting that these changes would contribute to a streamlined delivery. There is a lot of content in the action plan, taking these steps to make it more accessible will benefit delivery. ADES raised that the current financial position will pose a risk to delivery, so we must be mindful of and consider those challenges.

It was suggested that additional support needs (ASN) is a big stress in the education system and demands a high level of specialism to meet the needs of pupils with ASN. There are capacity and resourcing issues in education that continue to create challenges. There may also be work to do in using different phrasing/language to show that teachers and support staff views are reflected.

ES highlighted how the importance of measuring and providing evidence of impact is critical for providing assurance. ES acknowledged measuring and tracking progress is time consuming, but urged members to consider what data there is available now and how it can be best used to measure impact against the actions. There was emphasis that in times of capacity and resource challenges, we need to be very clear that we are measuring what’s needed most.

NPFS voiced concerns around the wording on actions relating to parents and noted that parents should have a place to provide input at a strategic level. NPFS noted that they have a position at a strategic level in their home local authority (LA) to provide input and information from a parents perspective, and that all authorities should provide that same opportunity. Parents should get all the information they need at as an early a point as possible, not at the last minute when issues arise. NPFS pointed to this as being a key factor to improvement.

The Board welcomed the comments from NPFS. We should begin to capture some positive stories and successful work going forward. Members noted it would be worth looking through the actions and building on them with case studies or examples of good practice. ADES noted they are already aware of some examples of best practice through their networks. 

EIS/Unison noted that any information that is being disseminated has to be tailored to specific roles, for example, teachers or support staff. Also that access to information is not consistent between schools and authorities. NPFS noted that information on the Angela Morgan review and the ASL action plan is still not filtering down to teachers in every school. ASPEP noted that their home LA teachers are aware of it and are active participants in discussions at head teacher meetings. This is the position we are aiming to reach in all authorities. This will be added to the communication strategy for the ASL Action Plan.

SOLACE noted that the vast representation on the ASL Network will have a big part to play in ensuring effective communications. SOLACE also stressed the importance of the Board having a robust communications strategy, and a process in place for members to triangulate information. The Project Board workstream with responsibility on operational and communications will need to develop this. 

The Supporting Learners’ team thanked members for their contributions.


  • Supporting Learners’ team to identify “critical” actions that need to be prioritised for the Board’s agreement.

Project plan

The Supporting Learners’ team introduced this item to the Board. The project plan had been shared with members in advance of the meeting. The Supporting Learners’ team noted this is a first draft and welcomed comments from members on the plan.

The project plan has been created to support the Board in delivering the remaining actions. The purpose is to give the Board a way to continuously track and monitor each action in the ASL action plan. This plan will be routinely updated by the Supporting Learners’ team through updates received from members during, and outwith meetings. This will be presented at Project Board meetings to assess what’s going well, what we could focus on more and what needs urgent progress.

The project plan takes into account members views on the difficulty of getting through the long action plan, and includes many different filters to make finding specific actions easier for members. There are different options to filter actions, such as: due date, owner, prioritisation, risk and more. It is also broken down into the 9 key themes from the Angela Morgan Review, with actions assigned to a theme that progress against the theme’s overarching recommendation.

Members were very pleased with the project plan, and thanked the Supporting Learners’ team for the work put into developing it. Members reiterated that they would be keen on finding ways to link relating actions together to make it more streamlined. Ownership of actions also needs to be considered, not all partners working on an action have their name assigned to the action.

It was noted action numbers in the published action plan were different to those in the project plan, making it difficult to locate specific actions. A filter noting what organisations the owner of an action were in collaboration with was suggested, as well as a dependencies filter.


  • Project Board Members are encouraged to look through the project plan and pass on any ideas, suggestions or/and amendments to the Supporting Learners’ team.

National measurement framework

NAIT introduced this item and presented to the Board.

NAIT noted the National Measurement Framework (NMF) had been presented to the ASL network, a response to the Network’s feedback was shared. The Network’s comments were shared with the Board.

NAIT stated there is a need to have different communications around the framework to make it inclusive for everyone. The communications will explain to each audience what their role is within the NMF. Children and young people, parents and carers, school staff, local authorities and other agencies. There have been initial meetings with some agencies to discuss how the comms will look, but before more progress is made NAIT would like Board members’ input on whether they are content with the audiences NAIT have identified. Some additional audiences suggested were: Early Learning and Childcare settings; secondary settings; researchers and third sector organisations.

A glossary is currently in development by ENQUIRE. Next steps include meeting key people for the development of the NMF guide. The Project Board can play a role in identifying them.

ES queried if this framework would be a self-evaluation tool, and if the expectation would be for every school to use this and to provide evidence for each pillar to their Local Authority. A question was raised whether this was a realistic and achievable goal. It needs to be very clear what this document will be used for and how information will be collected and collated. There must also be consideration on how this will feed into the National Improvement Framework (NIF).

ES suggested we consider how the NMF can be mapped into things schools already report on. It was noted there is a real opportunity to link into work that is going on nationally that will support this going forward.

It was suggested there could be a wider group to consider the NMF in more detail. This work could fall into one of the existing Project Board workstreams.

The Board welcomed and thanked NAIT for their presentation, noting this work is important and much needed. The Board agreed next steps would be refining the reporting purpose and clarifying that we have the correct outcome measures.

Project governance next steps

The Project Board were invited to consider how they, as a group, are best supported in delivery. Specifically, to consider if the three agreed workstreams identified by the Board are still appropriate. These were previously agreed by the Project Board, and are included in the published Role and Remit. These workstreams need to have Chairs, membership, meeting frequency agreed by the Board. Once they are established we can begin linking them into the Project Plan, identifying what actions each workstream can focus on.

The Supporting Learners’ team noted the ASL code of practice group is established and met for the first time last summer, and are due to meet again this month. Work is progressing in this area.


  • Supporting Learners’ team to follow up on workstreams via correspondence.

Any other business

The Board agreed the need to meet more frequently, with agreement to meet every 2 months for the foreseeable future.

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