Additional Support for Learning Project Board minutes: July 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on the 31 July 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) (CHAIR)
  • Scottish Government (SG)
  • Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)
  • Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS)
  • Education Scotland (ES)
  • National Autism Implementation Team (NAIT)
  • National Parent Forum Scotland (NPFS)
  • ADES Early Years Network
  • Children in Scotland (CiS)
  • Audit Scotland (Observers)


  • Public Health Scotland (PHS)
  • Association of Scottish Principal Educational Psychologists (ASPEP)
  • Social Work Scotland (SWS)
  • ENABLE Scotland
  • Grant Aided Special Schools (GASS)
  • Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE)

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed members to the meeting of the ASL Project Board. The Chair also welcomed Audit Scotland, who attended as observers. Audit Scotland gave the Board a brief introduction and update in light of the Morgan review’s recommendation, as captured in the ASL action plan, that Audit Scotland should undertake a performance audit about children and young people with additional support needs. Audit Scotland is tracking the implementation of the ASL action plan and will consider the scope, timing and output of their work in this area, together with the Auditor General and Accounts Commission. Audit Scotland confirmed that they have been exploring alternative forms of engagement and reporting, noting the blog published on behalf of the Accounts Commission in May 2022 as an example. Audit Scotland is aware of the Education Children and Young People (ECYP) Committee’s ongoing interest in ASL issues and its plan to do further work in this area. They indicated that Audit Scotland would take the scope and timing of the committee’s work into account in planning its own work. 

Minutes from previous meeting

Members considered the draft minute of the meeting of 30 May. No further amendments were suggested, and the minutes were accepted as an accurate record of the meeting. The following updates were provided on the actions agreed at the last meeting.

Project Board members were to provide the Supporting Learners' team with updates on actions and risks, these updates will be discussed further in the agenda. The Project Board sub groups were to bring priority actions to discuss at todays meeting. As not all the sub groups have had the opportunity to meet a list of priority actions has been prepared for todays discussion. Comments on the National Measurement Framework (NMF) were to provided to ADES in advance of their sub grou meeting in June, ADES will provide an update on the NMF later in the agenda. The Operational and Communications sub group were in agreement of the additions of UNISON and SG ELC onto the membership. The Monitoring and Analysis sub group also had considerations on membership, this will be discussed later in the agenda. No further suggestions were received on potential ASL Network agenda items, more will be sought during any other business on the agenda. Finally, the Chair's considered the Boards ELC representation and proposed an opportunity to allign the work of the Project Board with existing ELC groups, such as the ELC Joint Delivery Board.

Education Children and Young People’s Committee

The Chairs of the ASL Project Board were approached by the ECYP Committee to provide evidence to aid their planned inquiry into additional support for learning. In addition to representation from the Joint Chairs Project Board members from Education Scotland and ADES also gave evidence.

It was noted that the committee were keen to discuss the ASL action plan, but had wide ranging questions and interest across different areas. Some of the key areas of discussion included: resources, staffing, action plan progress, parental support and planning for support.

The Chair noted the committee meeting is available to watch on the parliament website and encouraged members to read the official report of the meeting.

Project plan

The SG introduced this item to the Board. The Project Plan was shared in advance of this meeting and a condensed Project Plan with priority actions highlighted, was also shared.

As discussed at the previous Project Board meeting, it was agreed that we focus in on specific actions at Project Board meetings. The wider Project Plan will continue to be shared with the Board at every meeting for oversight and awareness. Since the Board last met, several actions have turned green and are listed as completed. Agreement was sought from the Board at the meeting and via correspondence to confirm agreement. Members were reminded that actions that are listed as completed but which are considered to be ongoing, are still regularly monitored to ensure they are still being delivered. Members were also presented with a few minor adjustments to actions owned by sub-groups. The Board were content with the proposed completed actions and changes to sub-group owned actions.

A paper was shared containing some of the higher priority actions. The actions included in that paper are actions that are either missing a clear timeframe or have a short-term one assigned to them (e.g. a 2023 deadline). The owners of these actions along with any partners who are and will continue to be active contributors have been asked to fill in any gaps, open discussions on any potential challenges and provide updates and comments before the next Project Board at the latest, as work towards completion progresses.

The Board had a deep dive on 4 of those actions. These actions were:

PC4 - Local authorities will review the information on additional support for learning and Getting It Right For Every Child (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.

PC5 – COSLA and ADES will encourage local authorities to establish parent groups to support enhanced collaboration and communication on additional support for learning.

CYP9 - 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.

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

The first action discussed was PC4. COSLA introduced this action. Colleagues have been doing some thinking on how best we can join ongoing work on ELC and ASL. The jointly chaired ELC Delivery Board will be a very useful link and ADES have begun to hold discussions around information on ASL provided across Local Authorities (LAs). This information can be provided on the different LA's websites, but the information available at each LA is not consistently the same. It was suggested that there is a need for LAs to review the information they have and consider if it needs to be updated.  A potential idea could be to develop standardised information on ASL at a national level and share this with LAs, so they can update and tailor it to their specific area. This allows LAs to have the same baseline information and provides them with something to build on. It was noted that some of the frustration that arises from parents comes from the different terminology LAs use (eg. making it difficult for people  when changing areas). Members agreed a standardised set of core information for LAs would be welcome.

NPFS commented that parents can find it very challenging to find information on ASL at school and authority level. 

The second action discussed was PC5. ADES introduced this action. They noted that whilst they can encourage and advise LAs, they cannot prescribe particular approaches on them. ADES want to share examples of highly effective practice. They are considering how to gather information and if opportunities arise, how they will showcase the examples of good practice. ADES are keen to have a wider discussion with colleagues to better understand the true intention of this action, and to open up their thinking about how this action should look on the ground once completed.

NPFS noted they are undertaking a scoping exercise to understand how many LAs have parent representation at a strategic level. Once this information is collated, NPFS will share it with Project Board members. COSLA would welcome the ADES Network to a future meeting of the communications and engagement sub-group to engage discussions with the information collated by NPFS.

The third action discussed was CYP9. The SG introduced this action and reassured members that while it has a summer 2023 target deadline, work is underway towards its completion. The mapping exercise is wide ranging and captures the day to day policy connections, policy links within the directorate, portfolio and wider government. The importance of ASL in major pieces of work such as education reform, the promise and the Hayward review have been recognised. There was a risk it would be compiled as a long list, so the team were keen to be clear on its intended purpose and outcomes as well as it being presented in a user friendly visual format. Input will be sought from Board members on the uses they envisage for the policy map. A draft map will be presented at the next meeting in September. Completion of this action will aid the progression of a number of interconnected actions.

Members were in agreement we should focus on where the natural ASL links are, and try to avoid forcing links where there may be little value. One suggested outcome from the map was for it to be used as a tool to  avoid potential duplication of work. Education Scotland noted the mapping exercise, once complete, will be helpful for practitioners to better understand policy  connections. Members asked that consideration be given to publishing the policy map.

The fourth and final action discussed was LI8. The SG introduced this action to the Board. Reassurance was again provided that work on this action is on track. Policy work on behaviour in schools sits with the same policy unit as additional support for learning policy, so connections are easily and regularly made. The latest survey in the long term Behaviour in Scottish Schools Research (BISSR) is currently underway the findings are expected  to be published in October 2023. A range of stakeholder summits on relationships and behaviour in schools  have been taking place since June 2023 and  a larger summit is being organised for the autumn once the research has been published. The SG will continue to make policy links between and behaviour in schools and the provision of additional support for learning. SG will keep Project Board members updated with key developments with this work. 

EIS were interested to know which professional associations or trade unions had been invited to the engagement events. The SG will provide this information to EIS following the meeting.

The Chair thanked members for helpful discussions. If members would like to discuss any other particular actions at future meetings they can suggest them to the SG secretariat.


  • all PB members who are responsible for the actions included in Paper 2b (priority actions as of summer 2023) to feedback and update on their progress before the next PB meeting September
  • COSLA, ADES and Project Board members to consider standardised information on ASL to be provided to LA's
  • NPFS to share parent representation scoping exercise data
  • SG to bring Mapping exercise update to Project Board meeting in September
  • SG to provide EIS with professional associations or trade unions in attendance at the relationships and behaviour in schools engagement event. This was completed following the meeting

 ASL Project Board sub-groups

The Chair introduced this item to the Board. No papers were shared and verbal updates were provided.

The Chair provided an update on behalf of Education Scotland, Chair of the Training and Resources sub-group. The Training and Resources sub-group will meet on 30  August. An agenda and draft Terms of Reference has been shared, feedback on both prior to meeting welcomed. An overview of subgroups actions has also been shared with the sub-group.

The Operational and Communications  sub-group met on 19 of July with limited attendance but good discussions. The sub-group discussed the roles of each organisation, how to best make use of connections and school handbooks. A meeting will be arranged soon once members have returned from leave. The sub-group is made up of members from COSLA, ASLO, ENQUIRE, Scottish Autism, SG, EIS, UNISON and NPFS.

The Monitoring and Analysis sub-group met on 22 June. At the meeting members considered membership, frequency of meetings and programme of work. The sub-group agreed to meet every 4 weeks, and had a general agreement to widen the membership to help them meet their timescales. The sub-group also considered the draft National Measurement Framework (NMF) document. They highlighted that the priority output of the group would be the first iteration of NMF measures. The Chair of the sub-group will provide updates on progress to future meetings.

Risk register

The SG introduced this item to the Board. The Risk Register was shared in advance of this meeting.

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

Risk 4 was the focus, and states “If Action Planning is not sufficiently owned by colleagues and partners, then, the actions will be too narrow, resulting in not achieving the aims of the ASL review.”. Members were asked to consider if they are content with the current levels associated with this risk, the controls in place, or additional changes.

Members were in agreement the risk score could move from the lowest one in the red category (100) to the highest one in the amber category (75), in recognition that while the impact of this risk remains unchanged, the controls that are now in place have reduced the likelihood of its occurrence. The Board agreed that the risk continue to be closely monitored and that updates should be made to the actions  to mitigate the risk.

A new potential risk was shared with members around engaging with children and young people, parents and carers and staff in the delivery of the actions set out in the ASL action plan. Members were all in agreement this is an important risk to add. The SG secretariat will finalise the wording of the risk following careful consideration of the relevant discussions during the meeting and will also provide a draft score for this risk ahead of the next Board meeting.


  • SG to finalise new proposed risk and provide an update at the next Project Board meeting

Any other business

Item 1 was the Children in Scotland (CiS) roundtable event. On 31 May, CiS facilitated an Additional Support for Learning Action Plan implementation roundtable event hosted by Jeremy Balfour MSP A report from the event was subsequently produced and shared with Project Board members for their awareness and to allow them to share their views on its contents. Members noted the report. There were no views expressed during the discussion, members have a further week to provide any comments.

Item 2 on any other business was the ASL Network. A meeting of the ASL Network is due in the coming months and the SG were seeking further suggestions for the focus of the meeting. At the last Project Board, members agreed that an update on the NMF and Project Board sub-groups could be potential  agenda items. It was suggested that an agenda item to discuss engagement with children and young people, parents and carers and staff would be useful. The Network could also discuss how parents and carers access information.


  • Project Board members to contact SG secretariat with comments on the roundtable event by 7 August 2023
  • NPFS to share analysis on relationships and behaviour survey with members.

Date of next meeting

The Board will meet next on the 25 September, and in November following that.

Scottish Government


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