Additional Support for Learning Project Board minutes: January 2024

Minutes from the meeting of the group on the 31 January 2024.

Attendees and apologies

  • Scottish Government (SG) (CHAIR)
  • Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Education Scotland (ES)
  • Education Institute of Scotland (EIS)
  • National Autism Implementation Team (NAIT)
  • Social Work Scotland (SWS)
  • ADES Early Years Network
  • Children in Scotland (CiS)
  • National Parent Forum Scotland (NPFS)
  • Association of Scottish Principal Education Psychologists (ASPEP)
  • Allied Health Professionals Leads
  • Audit Scotland


  • Grant Aided Special Schools (GASS)
  • Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE)
  • Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)
  • 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, and those members who were attending virtually. The Chair welcomed the new ADES Early Years representative to their first meeting of the Project Board.

Minutes from previous meeting

Members considered the draft minute of the meeting of 27 November 2023. An amendment to update the attendee list of the meeting was requested, and the minutes were, then, accepted as an accurate record of the meeting. The following updates were provided on the actions agreed at the last meeting.

The Operational and Communications sub-group produced a draft communications strategy for Project Board comment. The Monitoring and Analysis sub-group continue work to prepare a draft of the National Measurement Framework to be ready by Spring 2024. ES provided a brief update on the Inclusion, Wellbeing and Equalities Professional Learning Framework, sharing the link to the website with Board members. No further comments had been received on the mapping exercise, it will be recirculated for comment following the meeting. Risk 5 had been updated in the Risk Register following the discussions from the last meeting. The ASL Network met in December 2023, details of the meeting will be provided later in the meeting. Project Board have had meetings for 2024 confirmed and issued to all members.

ASL Project Board sub-groups

The Training and Resources group, chaired by Education Scotland, last met on the 13 December 2023. They have been focusing their attention on action TP11, which will be discussed in more detail in agenda Item 5. The sub-group are currently in the process of undertaking a scoping exercise to fully understand what resources are currently available and, thus, identify potential gaps. The sub-group will meet again on the 5th February.

The Monitoring and Analysis sub group, chaired by ADES, had to cancel their most recent meeting before Christmas, but will meet on the 2nd February. The sub-group Chair and SG member have met with analytical colleagues in Scottish Government to discuss the National Measurement Framework, scoping what would be possible for the first iteration of the framework. The sub-group will liaise with analysts to assess their capacity in supporting the work on the first iteration and will consider the resourcing requirements for future iterations. A more detailed update will be provided to the Project Board during their next session.

The Operational and Communications sub-group, chaired by COSLA, last met on the 24th January. The sub-group created a draft communications strategy that they have already shared with the Project Board for feedback. It was noted that the sub-group could, potentially, review other comms strategy papers to align with existing structures, and they will consider this at their next meeting. It was also suggested that the sub-group should consider how the different audiences can be empowered to engage. Concerns were raised regarding visibility and awareness. The strategy must address these concerns and consider how the Angela Morgan Review (and any work associated with it) can be disseminated through all audiences. It was suggested that the sub-group could potentially link in with Local Authority press teams and the ADES ASN Network to get information out at different levels. The sub-group will investigate how that could be taken on. ASL Project Board members emphasised that it is important to continuously think about what the impact of a finalised comms strategy will be to the ongoing development. The subgroup chair requested any written comments on the draft document to be submitted ahead of their next meeting. The deadline for the submission of these comments will be circulated with the Project Board members ASAP. Members thanked the sub-group and their Chair for their work on the communications strategy.


  • The Monitoring and Analysis sub-group to provide updates on National Measurement Framework during the next Project Board meeting.
  • The Operational and Communications sub-group to consider the draft communications strategy following Project Board comments and, then, return to the Board. The deadline for comments on the paper from PB members to be announced ASAP.
  • The Operational and Communications sub-group to consider how information can be shared at different levels.

Risk Register

The Supporting Learners’ team introduced this item to the Board. The risk register was shared with members in advance of the meeting.

Members were thanked for providing comments and updates to the Risk Register.

The Board had a focused discussion on Risk 3. The risk currently sits without a score, and as a result no other figure including: impact, likelihood, targets and confidence levels have been agreed. The risk states “If there is not an agreement between SG, COSLA/ADES and the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) on appropriate career progression and pathways for those specialising in ASL, then the intended increase in the number of teachers who specialise in ASL will not be realised.”

This risk directly links into actions in the ASL action plan. SG Workforce have progressed with parts of the risk that are under their remit. However, more information is needed on the work undertaken. Members were in agreement this was a complex risk, and that it might be better to approach it by amending the description. It was noted that the focus shouldn’t just be on teacher numbers but also on the ways they are deployed in educational settings. It would be helpful to understand more about the structure and the effect of current deployment and delivery. SAGRABIS have a mapping provision of resources, so it will be useful to link in with their group.

It was agreed that the risk needed some work before coming back to the Board to consider. Members should consider this risk within their own teams and provide any comments to the SG Supporting Learners’ team. This will be taken forward and brought back to the Board at a future date for a further discussion.


  • Members should consider Risk 3 within their own teams and provide comments and thoughts to the Supporting Learners’ team by Friday 23rd February.
  • The Supporting Learners’ Team will liaise with SG Workforce regarding their work and involvement with Risk 3.
  • As soon as risk 3 is updated, the Supporting Learners’ Team will bring it back at a future Project Board meeting for further consideration.

Project Plan

The Chair introduced this item to the Board. The Project Plan was shared in advance of this meeting.

The first action discussed was TP11: The Scottish Government will seek to work with local government and other partners to ensure that teachers and ELC practitioners can access support and expertise from other professionals when this is required.

ES introduced this action on behalf of the Training and Resources sub-group. The sub-group are undertaking a scoping exercise to fully understand what resources are currently available, whilst simultaneously identifying potential gaps in these resources. The scoping exercise aims to produce a resource that will extend to all aspects of the educational environment and beyond. The project board will have an opportunity to see the results of the exercise and comment on said material. It was noted that this resource will benefit from continuous review, as ongoing work will be needed, even after completion, to ensure it will still be up to date and accurate.

The action ends with the phrase "when this is required" and this wording raised some comments. It was noted that we should be very clear what we mean by this, as people often don't know when or where to go for help before, during and after a point of crisis. Whilst it is important that this resource is created, we must also find a way to ensure that people know its existence, are aware of how it can help them and of all the different ways to access it.

Education Scotland have employed 6 FTE of speech and language leads sponsored by the SG ELC Unit. These leads will help deliver a solid strategic oversight of this work and will offer an opportunity for a national approach to build universal and targeted approaches, ensuring that ELC environments support speech and language development. The links of this action with the wider workforce were also discussed as part of the work undertaken.

The next two actions discussed were introduced by COSLA on behalf of the operational and communications sub-group.

PC4: 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.

PC12: The Scottish Government will work with partners to enhance information and signposting on additional support for learning for parents with younger children.

As PC4 has no timeframes associated with it, suggestions were sought from the Board. A timescale to complete this action won't be easy to set. The issue of information availability regarding ASL in schools (particularly within school handbooks) was raised. Equity must be considered when issuing handbooks to parents, as these are often issued as e-documents for online use only, something that comes with a range of accessibility issues.

The operational and communications sub-group were given an overview of a project being undertaken in one LA. This included an example of an unpublished version of a LA website which sets out useful information and materials relating to ASL. The Chair of the sub-group confirmed that further discussions will be required to consider all of the different ways that this project could be shared across LA's as an example of good practice. Project Board members were made aware that this project is currently paused and not further work is being undertaken on the website. Members were in agreement that the sharing of information across LA's would ensure that there is one source of truth, and that everyone gets access to similar information and materials.

Should this work be taken forward, it was suggested that starting the rollout of information with just 1 or 2 LA's (to test the effectiveness) could allow time for reflection; including the adjustment of any negatives or positives before full rollout. If we hurry and issue/publish all the updates on the various different websites at once, there is a risk of creating a bottleneck. LA's have different platforms that they share information on, and these channels may or may not include their actual website. There was agreement that all LA’s should aim to share the same pieces of information in their websites and communication channels. Any minor differences should be reflective of the various issues each LA are facing locally.

Following the deep dive on the above three actions, a brief update was provided on action TP5: 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 will be meeting in February 2024 to review the results and suggestions of the final evaluation report from the engagement programme. May 2025 is the publication deadline that they’re currently working towards. It was noted that a consultation took place as part of the engagement programme. There was also a suggestion to ask colleagues from the Scottish Government Workforce team to attend one of the future Board meetings. As the timeframe associated with this action was originally set for March 2023 (10 months ago), there is the need for a further discussion in order to revisit any associated timeframes.

The Supporting Learners’ Team are moving on to the next steps in relation to both the ASL Action Plan and Progress Report, as the next update is due later this spring, with the publication scheduled for May 2024. The team will soon be working towards finalising any updates regarding the progress report and will be in touch with members asking for their final updates for this reporting period soon.


  • The Training and Resources sub-group to provide the Project Board with sight of the scoping exercise, once ready.
  • Revisit Action TP5 to reconsider the timeframe in the next Project Board meeting.
  • Ask SG Workforce to attend one of the future ASL Project Board meetings.

Any other business

Item 1 was the ASL Network, introduced by the SG Supporting Learners’ Team. The Network met on the 18th December and the minutes of the meeting were shared with the Board. The Network discussed the introduction and progress of the ASL PB sub-groups (updates from the Training & Resources and Operational & Communications subgroup were provided). Amongst all the issues discussed during the December meeting, Enquire mentioned that there will be a new Inclusion Ambassadors case study published in February 2024.

Engagement with children, young people, parents, carers and staff was a main agenda item. There was also a discussion on the potential introduction of a flow chart or short flyer with information on support available for parents and carers. The Network membership will be updated to include Gaelic parental representation. The Terms of Reference document is currently being updated to include the changes regarding the group’s meeting frequency; it was agreed that The Network will start meeting 3 times per year. Updates coming from the ASL Network’s meetings will be included in the agendas of future ASL Project Board meetings. Communication as an issue was featured strongly during that meeting. It is important for the Board’s work to keep the Network involved and allow for all channels to remain open to help towards support and growth.

Item 2 was also introduced by the Supporting Learners’ Team and it was a request for case studies from all members of the board; examples showcasing parts of their work on the actions included in the ASL Action Plan. The publication of the most updated version of the ASL Action Plan will be published in spring 2024 and, as a result, the ASL Progress Report is currently being drafted. Members were asked to provide the Supporting Learners’ team with examples of positive case studies that could link into each of the themes highlighted in the action plan by Wednesday 21st February.

Item 3 introduced the topic of the behaviour in schools research (BISSR) and it was brought forward by the Supporting Learners’ Team. It was noted that SAGRABIS are currently considering a draft action plan. An update on progress with this work and a discussion on the ways that the actions included in the ASL Action Plan link together with the actions in the behaviour in schools action plan will be discussed in a future ASL Project Board meeting. A more detailed update on Action LI8 will also be provided in one of the next three ASL Project Board meetings.

LI8: The ASL Project Board will consider any relevant findings from the Behaviour in Scottish Schools Research and agree appropriate actions.


  • An update from the ASL Network to be included in the agenda of future Project Board meetings.
  • Project Board members to share positive case studies relating to the ASL Action Plan with the Supporting Learners’ Team by Wednesday 21st February 2024.
  • Update on Action LI8 to be provided at one of the next three Project Board meetings.
  • Update on the behaviour in schools Action Plan (and links with the ASL Action Plan) to be explored in a future Project Board meeting.

Date of next meeting

The dates for all the ASL Project Board meetings in 2024 have been confirmed and issued to members.

The addition of one extra meeting in February 2024 has already been agreed. It was proposed that this additional meeting be used to solely focus on a specific set of priority actions; actions with imminent deadlines or with limited updates on progress. Members were content to have this focused session.


  • The next ASL Project Board in February to be solely focused on a certain number of actions included in the ASL Action Plan.




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