Additional Support for Learning Project Board minutes: September 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on the 25 September 2023.

Attendees and apologies

Scottish Government (SG); (CHAIR);

Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA);

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;

Allied Health Professionals (AHP)

Social Work Scotland (SWS);

Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE)             


Association of Scottish Principal Educational Psychologists (ASPEP);

Children in Scotland (CiS);

ENABLE Scotland;


Grant Aided Special Schools (GASS).

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed members to the meeting of the ASL Project Board. The Chair thanked members who had travelled to attend in person, and those members who were attending virtually. Thanks were passed to COSLA for hosting the meeting.

Introductions were made and a welcome extended to the new Allied Health Professional representative on the ASL Project Board.

Minutes from previous meeting

Members considered the draft minute of the meeting of 31 July. 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 priority actions, these updates will be discussed further in the agenda. COSLA, ADES and Project Board members were to consider a set of standardised information to be shared with Local Authorities. This is yet to be completed. NPFS were to share information on parent representation scoping exercise with ADES and analysis on relationships and behaviour survey with members. This will be followed up with outside the meeting. SG were to bring the mapping exercise to the Project Boardy, this will be discussed later in the agenda. SG also followed up with EIS following the previous meeting to confirm what professional association or trade union attended the relationships and behaviour engagement event. Finally, Project Board members were to contact SG if they had any further comments relating to the roundtable event hosted by CiS, not further comments were received.

Project plan and priority actions

The SG introduced this item to the Board. The most updated version of the Project Plan was shared in advance of this meeting.

A  second ‘downsized’ version of the Project Plan was shared with members. This version focused on all the actions that are currently considered as priority (actions with a timeframe for mid/late 2023 or early 2024 and actions that require immediate attention to progress). The owners of these actions, along with any partners who are and will continue to be active contributors, have been asked to provide updates to the Supporting Learners’ by Friday, November 3rd. Members were also encouraged to come forward with any actions that they are keen to include in this priority list. It was noted that the actions which will be discussed during the Project Board meeting in November will come as direct suggestions by the three sub-groups.

The Board had a deep dive on 3 of the actions in paper 2b.

The first action discussed was PC3: 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. The ASL Project Board will consider further how improvement as a result of this work can be measured.

ES introduced this action. ES continue to work on Collaborative Improvements (CI) with ADES and local authorities. So far, 17 Collaborative Improvement reports have been received by local authorities and they are available on the National Improvement Hub. Several of these reports have a focus on ASL. Overall, there is a lot of positive feedback coming back from this process. ES are linking in with colleagues from scrutiny and inspection to discuss what further support could be provided. ES will be sharing updates with the Board, as they come in.

Education Scotland’s National Inclusion, Wellbeing and Equalities (IWE) team are now also involved in some project work with local authorities. There is a focus on inclusion and ASN, which will link into ongoing work on the ASL action plan.

ADES have established a link with the ADES Performance and Improvement Network (PIN) to discuss what measurement data is available in the broader education system.

NPFS recently attended a Cross Party Group on families supporting children’s learning. This group raised an FOI request that had been received by Connect around the support for parents and carers. They confirmed that the information received to date was not positive. COSLA expressed an interest to liaise with Connect and have requested sight  of the final report on behalf of the Operational and Communications sub-group, for consideration

The second action discussed was TP17: The Scottish Government will work with Education Scotland to consider opportunities to develop additional support for learning resources for practitioners in Early Learning and Childcare settings.

SG ELC team introduced this action. ASN has now been introduced as a standalone unit within the SQA’s Next Generation Higher National (HN) Childhood Practice award pilot currently underway. ASN is also included in the Pedagogy unit of this award. In addition, longer-term work led by Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) to review the National Occupation Standards (underpinning the registerable qualifications), will scope existing ASN learning content and identify any gaps.

The learning and support resources for the ELC workforce relating to ASN, and children’s speech, language and communication development, have been brought together into an easy-to-access ‘signposting tool’. These are currently being widely promoted to the sector, and will be available from the new ELC Professional Learning portal when it launches later this Autumn.

The Improvement Services are working collaboratively to seek to engage with local councils to source and develop content to support sharing of practice and learning with a focus on ASN – in particular, how effective support for children with ASN has been integrated into the 1140 expansion.

ELC team are also working with the Scottish Centre for Children with Motor Impairments around how best to support children with profound and multiple learning disabilities – and we have set up a new workstream particularly focusing on this, following the Ministerial roundtable meeting in June.

Lastly, over the next two years SG ELC team are investing in a new programme of work to support early intervention in speech and language for children. This programme involves the recruitment of 6 FTE Regional Leads for Early Years Speech and Language, who are qualified SLTs who will be based in Education Scotland. The new Leads will help to build confidence and capacity of staff working in early learning and childcare settings, and join up efforts across other key public services, such as health visiting.

ES noted they have had a slight timescale change for the launch of the new IWE framework. Instead of late September, they are now proposing  a November launch. Following the launch, ES will engage directly with local authorities to get their thoughts and views.

The third and final action discussed 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 the outcome measures, into improvement planning at local authority level.

The SG introduced this action. The supporting Learners' team have had discussions with ADES around the drawing of the measurement framework and reporting of children services together. ADES stated that there is a wide range of improvement planning within local authorities which we could draw into this action, noting it could take some time.

SOLACE raised some concerns around the number of different frameworks being discussed and suggested that instead of starting a brand new framework, we should draw ideas and learn from other frameworks and build on that. SOLACE also queried if there is an existing standard set of measurement and outcome data. If so, this information would be helpful to consider when looking at other frameworks. Supporting Learners explained that ADES are leading a sub-group that is currently undertaking this work; the development of a measurement framework. This work is still in progress and the intention is to have a draft framework in place by spring 2024. To date, discussions and progress with this work has focused on understanding the existing measurement and outcome frameworks that are in place to maximise the use of existing mechanisms, reduce duplication and to identify gaps.

EIS noted the importance of being mindful of the changes that may come into place with this work. They noted that we must give people sufficient time to become accustomed to any proposed changes and consider how this may impact different schools and local authorities. Workload implications for everybody involved should continue to be considered.

The Chair thanked members for all the helpful discussions. If members would like to focus on a particular action at a future Project Board meeting, , these suggestions can be made to SG secretariat.

As a helpful reminder, the Board were presented with a milestones document, which was approved by members earlier in the year. The document sets out a timeline for the delivery of the next action plan progress report. The Supporting Learners’ highlighted the following key dates.

  • 26th October, following updates received by PB members work on the final progress report begins
  • 22nd November, first full draft of the progress report is ready
  • 28th November, PB first consideration of the draft progress report

The Supporting Learners’ team requested updates on the wider action plan by 18th November, and requested sub-groups provide their proposed actions to focus on at the next Project Board by 3rd November.


  • all Board members who are responsible for the actions included in Paper 2b (priority actions as of summer 2023) to feedback and update on their progress by 3rd November
  • ES to share updates following discussions with scrutiny and inspection colleagues in relation to action PC3
  • all Board members to share updates on the Project Plan by 18th November
  • Project Board sub-groups to provide Supporting Learners’ with proposed actions to focus on at November PB meeting by 3rd November

ASL Project Board sub-groups

The Chair introduced this item to the Board. Verbal updates were provided.

The Operational and Communications sub-group, chaired by COSLA, met for the second time on September 21st.. The meeting initially focused on resourcing, however, this does not fall within its remit. The sub-group are currently considering what concrete outputs it will deliver, as these will be used to drive forward discussions at future meetings. COSLA noted, once again, their intention to contact CONNECT to discuss outputs of the FOI on parental engagement. The Chair noted the deadline of 3rd November to suggest actions for the next Project Board.

The Training and Resources sub-group met for the first time and had a productive discussion to agree the group’s terms of reference and actions. The group suggested including an additional action to the list of actions they are overseeing and have followed up with the Supporting Learners’ to discuss. The group are keen to meet every 6-8 weeks and hope to meet in person soon.

The Monitoring and Analysis sub-group is scheduled to take place every 4 weeks. The last meeting had to be cancelled due to the number of members who were unable to attend. SG provided a short verbal update for the sub-group and confirmed that discussions with colleagues leading on Insight data, Seemis and the Pupil Census are planned.

HMIe will provide an overview of the use of data in the school inspection process with acknowledgement that data available for Special School inspections is often limited. The HMIe rep on the sub-group has also agreed to provide an overview of inspection findings linked to HGIOS QI 2.3 – Raising Attainment and Achievement.

ADES and NPFS have had discussions with inspectorate colleagues to look at their findings through inspections.

Links have been established with the ADES PIN Network and there will be discussions to ensure that the measurement framework is linked or aligned to other work in relation to improvement activity at LA level.

The Chair met with NPFS and invites will be shared for all future sub-group meetings.

ADES noted that during the Project Board meeting in July, NPFS discussed the work they were undertaking surveying parents and carers regarding some of their experiences. NPFS agreed to follow up after the meeting and share with ADES.

It was noted it could be helpful to link in with the Care Inspectorate around the thematic inspection on ASN. There was a survey across all 32 local authorities, with 4 authorities having a deep dive, which could hold useful existing information.

The next meeting will take place on Friday 13th October 2023.

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.

Following discussions at the last Project Board meeting, the following new risk had been added to the register:

"If we do not commit to engaging with children and young people, parents and carers, school staff and delivery partners in the delivery of the innovative actions set out in the ASL AP, then we risk being unable to make meaningful change."

This risk has now had controls and mitigating actions put in place, with a risk score of 50. It was proposed and agreed that the wording should be amended to state delivery partners instead of stakeholders.

Risk 4 had also been updated following the Project Board meeting on 31st July. The risk score had been changed from red to amber. COSLA suggested adding Local Government or COSLA leaders under the controls of the risk. Members were content.

The Board had a focused discussion on risk 2. The risk sits with a risk score of 100, and states “If we do not have a mechanism for collating clear, robust metrics on ASL outcomes, then we will be unable to assess the effectiveness of the interventions within the action plan resulting in no evidence of change.”. Members were asked to consider if they are content with the current levels associated with this risk, the controls in place, or additional changes.

SOLACE acknowledged the risk but questioned if the score was too high, noting we have a good amount of information to hand and have ongoing discussions on the measurement framework working as controls in place.

COSLA noted there is a children and families leadership group, which has a focus on outcomes and data, due to meet soon. Joining up conversations with that group and the Project Board could bring the risk level down.

It was agreed the Board would follow up on this risk and reconsider the risk score and status at a future Project Board meeting, following the next Monitoring and Analysis sub-group meeting to discuss the measurement framework.


  • risk 2 to be discussed at Monitoring and Analysis sub-group and reconsider at a future Project Board

Any other business

Item 1 was the Humanly Report, introduced by the Scottish Government. The research, published on 19 September, was commissioned as part of the implementation of the Doran Review and focussed on complex additional support needs provision in schools. This was a qualitative piece of research undertaken during the winter of 2022-23 that captured the perspectives of staff, parents and children and young people with complex additional support needs. The research involved 11 schools across 7 local authority areas. This involved a range of school settings including: early years, primary, secondary, mainstream (with and without specialist ASN units), grant aided and independent schools. The Doran Review’s National Strategic Commissioning Group is developing proposals for the next steps following the research and it was also noted that the research may help inform the delivery of existing actions within the ASL Action Plan. This report will be shared with members following the meeting.

Item 2 was an update on the mapping exercise, action CYP9. The Supporting Learners’ have a first draft map in place, which has initially been shared internally with policy colleagues across the Support and Wellbeing Unit, and more widely in the Division. Colleagues are in the process of re-drafting the map and ensuring that the policies are presented in a clear format. Once it is complete, it will be shared with SG policy teams that share an interest in ASL delivery in order for them to incorporate their updates. We will, then, look to create  accessible versions to share with the Project Board in November 2023..

Item 3 was an update on the Children in Scotland (CiS) success looks different award. CiS were unable to attend the meeting so a written update was provided to members separately. Members were encouraged to consider how we can continue to promote this work going forward.


  • Supporting Learners’ to share Humanly report with Project Board members
  • mapping exercise to be shared with Project Board members at the next project Board meeting in November

Date of next meeting

The Board will next meet on 27 November. The Board agreed to continue with bi-monthly meetings in 2024. An additional meeting was proposed for February 2024, to provide a further opportunity for members to discuss  and agree on progress in advance of the spring 2024 action plan progress publication.

Scottish Government



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