Additional Support for Learning Project Board minutes: November 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on the 27 November 2023.

Attendees and apologies

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


  • Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE)

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

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

Minutes from previous meeting

Members considered the draft minute from the previous meeting. No further amendments were suggested, and the minutes were accepted as an accurate record of the meeting.

As updates were received for only some of the actions included in the ASL Action Plan, all delivery partners, who did not provide an update, were requested to do so as soon as possible.

Education Scotland (ES) shared an update following ongoing discussions with scrutiny and inspection colleagues in relation to action PC3.

The Humanly Report was shared with Project Board members alongside the draft version of the minutes following the Project Board meeting in September 2023.

Updates on the actions regarding the Mapping exercise will be discussed during item 4 on the agenda.

ASL Project Board sub-groups

The Training and Resources sub-group, chaired by Education Scotland (ES), met on 30 August 2023. Their discussions included looking further into particular actions that are aligned to their work as well as agreeing the terms of reference. In order for all subgroups to connect and work together, there were suggestions that some of its members could look into actions that other subgroups are working on.  The group discussed that digital support and accessibility for learners need to be prominently featured in the Action Plan. The next sub-group meeting will be held on the 8 December 2023.

The Operational and Communications sub-group, chaired by COSLA, last met on 27 October 2023. The agenda items for the last meeting included the Connect report on parental engagement and discussions on a communication strategy/plan, specifically looking at who the audience is, what is the message and how to deliver it. There was positive feedback from that meeting and the members are in the process of producing a document. Once the subgroup reaches an agreement, the document will, then, be brought forward to a future project board meeting for sign off.

The Monitoring and Analysis sub-group, chaired by ADES, have been unable to meet since the last Project Board meeting in September. However, a range of meetings have taken place, instead, trying to broaden the understanding of the work that may already be underway and of any data that is already available within the system. There should be work towards an understanding of what is possible within the timeframe prior to the next update of the action plan; a significant amount of support from partners will be needed to understand how an iteration of a measurement framework could be demonstrated. ES attended one of the relevant meetings and provided an input on the work that’s been carried out nationally around profiling, particularly those achievements of children and young people with additional support needs. The subgroup will continue to look at how all the information and data can be demonstrated, as they move forward and also how they can align this with the work that ES have already been doing. The aim is to have a draft ready by spring 2024 in which they can showcase this data along with examples of success and achievement of children and young people.


  • The Communication and Engagement subgroup to bring forward the agreed document to a future project board meeting for sign off.
  • Monitoring and Analysis subgroup to have a National Measurement Framework draft ready by spring 2024.

Project Plan and Priority Actions

The first action discussed was TP7: The Scottish Government and Education Scotland will build on and develop the suite of resources that are already available to teachers to support them to meet the needs of children and young people within their schools.

The Education Scotland working group are planning a mapping exercise, looking at what professional learning is available. The ES working group has already had an overview of the new inclusion, wellbeing and equalities professional learning framework that will be published on the national improvement hub, providing specific support for all educators who are supporting children and young people who require additional support for learning. The ‘inclusion’ section will cover the additional support for learning processes, the inclusive context in Scotland and the inclusive legislative and policy framework, all in short manageable segments. It will provide an opportunity for educators to either look at it individually or in a group setting. Local Authorities will also have the ability to adapt them as they need. Over the next few months, ES will be soft launching the framework and will be looking for comments and feedback to help further improvement. Feedback from project board members will also be welcomed.

The national improvement hub will be the portal for education resources and it will include signposting to other useful webpages. These resources will be available to download, allowing for educators the option to adapt them to their current work.

ES have a commitment from Bookbug to include a leaflet in their bags with age appropriate guidance for parents and carers.

The vision statement (pupil support staff) is still to be published and ES are collating all the relevant information. They are working with the workforce unit and have recently met to discuss next steps. They are exploring how that framework can be improved in order to support the professional learning more effectively.

The second action discussed was PC5: COSLA and ADES will encourage local authorities to establish parent groups to support enhanced collaboration and communication on additional support for learning.

A FOI request went out to all local authorities requesting more information and details on their parental engagement regarding children with additional support needs. Findings were mixed, the report surveyed all local authorities and was also in relation to two actions from the ASL action plan. Findings were mixed and according to the survey, different approaches were being taken in different areas with some local authorities taking a central role in both engaging with parents and carers and in the information being shared to parents whilst in other LAs it was upon the individual schools to engage.

COSLA’s children and young people’s board is being held on 1 December 2023. There is a paper going to the board requesting agreement to update the ‘Learning Together’ plan. ‘Learning Together’ is the national action plan on parental involvement, engagement, family learning and learning at home from 2018-2021.

The third action discussed was LI10: 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 introduced this action and was keen to discuss with members. This action has been the main discussion point within the Monitoring and Analysis subgroup, as they are looking to understand what is possible for the first iteration - a main discussion point was around the different ways ADES can adopt when gathering the evidence to support the action. The evidence for the national measurement framework will come together in different parts; one aspect should be focusing on collating examples of effective practice(s)in collaboration with parents, carers, children and young people that are worth sharing. ADES welcomed members to provide ideas of how to capture the framework as it evolves. The success looks different award can provide great examples that can showcase what everyone is doing and how success is celebrated.


  • ES to share the Link for the Inclusion, Wellbeing and Equalities Professional Learning Framework webpage with Project Board members once it has gone livee

Mapping Exercise

The Sottish Government introduced this item. The mapping exercise related document was circulated prior to the meeting but was also shared on screen.

The version that was shared is the result of not only primary engagements of the Support and Wellbeing Unit within the Scottish Government, but also secondary engagement with wider policy teams. The overall aim is to have a policy map that reflects the work of the Supporting Learners’ Team and the Support and Wellbeing Unit, as a whole, and visualise how their work crosses into the numerous other policy areas within government. The map incudes overarching policies, delivery partners and governance structures.

The Supporting Learners’ Team welcomed comments and feedback from members to help towards the next stage of the document. Questions raised included the option to add wider delivery partners such as schools, workforce and parents. Members discussed options for the map to turn into an interactive resource that can be available to the public (this could result in further changes to the language/terminology used in order to make it clearer). There is a plan in place for the map to be included as a visual in the 2024 progress report, so a final version will need to be circulated before the final sign-off of the action. There will be a word document to go alongside the mapping exercise which will describe the map. The Supporting Learners’ Team asked members to provide their feedback via email to help better understand comments and suggestions.


  • Project Board members to provide feedback on Mapping Exercise to the Supporting Learners’ Team by Monday 5th February, 2024.

Risk Register

The Supporting Learners’ Team introduced this item to the Board. The Risk Register was shared in advance of this meeting and also shared on screen.

Discussion was focussed on Risk 5, “If there are insufficient resources available to manage the development and implementation of the actions, then the aims of the ASL review will not be achieved resulting in poorer outcomes for Children and Young People”, which is the risk with the lowest score in the register. Members were asked to consider if they are content with the current score levels of the risk and whether they think that the controls in place and the planned actions need updating.

Members were in agreement that the current risk score was too low and should be raised higher. Some Project Board members shared the idea that there is a need to look at the resource aligned to supporting the development and implementation of the actions, as there might be a missed opportunity if the board does not look at some additional resources allocated to support the work of the subgroups.

The Supporting Learners’ Team also picked on the fact that Risk 5 is the only risk for which the level of confidence is higher than the actual risk scoring of the risk. With the level of confidence being limited there is definitely room for more to be discussed on all the planned actions and the controls that are currently in place. The Board agreed that the risk should be revisited after COSLA (who is a co-owner of this risk) and the rest of the PB members take time to work and rethink on how to take this forward.

There is a huge number of things that can be done to support ASN. Understanding ASN Data is one of the steps that need to be clear and straightforward at all levels. For example, not everyone with an Additional Support Need will require targeted support and not everyone will be under the Complex Additional Support Need umbrella. Deconstructing the data will really help people understand the questions raised.


  • The score of Risk 5 to be raised and the risk to be revisited in a future project board.
  • Revisit and discuss the resources aligned to support development and implementation of the actions in order to identify any additional resources allocated (that could support the work of the subgroups).


The Supporting Learners’ Team are to provide an update report on the progress within the ASL action plan to Cab Sec, Cllr Buchanan and Mr Greer. This was a commitment to keep everyone sighted on progress.

The Supporting Learners’ Team made members aware that there is a programme of commitment being brought forward; a consultation on a learning disability, autism and neurodiversity bill. The bill is to ensure that the rights of neurodivergent people are respected, protected and championed. It has been established as an equalities bill and covers a wide range of policy areas, including education.

A meeting has been agreed for the ASL Network on 18 December 2023. The meeting will have updates from and discuss the ASL Project Board sub-groups, the engagement with Children and young people and the ways parents and carers access information (as per the suggestions coming from across the Project Board members in the last couple of meetings). The Network members will also aim to have a solid plan for all their meetings in 2024 early in the next year. There was a  suggestion to include updates from the ASL Network as a regular item in the agenda for future Project Board meetings. This was welcomed by The Project Board members and was viewed as a great opportunity to understand more about what colleagues are discussing within that forum, and to ensure that all interests are being represented.

It was noted that the Project Board will be updated on the work of the ASL Network on the back of their meetings – and with 3 meetings to be planned for 2024, communication and engagement should be ongoing.


  • Updates from The ASL Network to be featured regularly in the Project Board meetings in 2024 and beyond.

Date of next meeting

Supporting learners’ Team have issue a doodle poll to agree meeting dates for 2024. The proposed structure below for information (exact dates TBC):

  • January 2024
  • February 2024
  • March 2024
  • May 2024
  • July 2024
  • September 2024
  • November 2024

The meeting in February will be an optional meeting, if needed, to build up momentum as we’ll get closer to the ASL progress report publication.


  • Supporting Learners’ Team will confirm the finalised dates and issue the meeting invites by the end of the year.
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