Children’s Advocacy in the Children Hearings System: Expert Reference Group Training and CPD Sub-Group minutes: August 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 31 August 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Chair, Scottish Government (SG), Louise Piaskowski
  • Advocacy Western Isles (AWI), Birgitta Godhavn
  • Angus Independent Advocacy (AIA), Suzanne Swinton
  • CAPS Independent Advocacy (CAPS), Jane Crawford
  • Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection, CHIP Learning and Development Lead (CHIP), Elaine Adams
  • Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS), Amy Farmer
  • East Ayrshire Advocacy Services (EAAS), Annmarie Denny
  • Independent Advocacy Perth and Kinross (IAPK), Clare Gallagher
  • Law Society of Scotland (LSoS), Morag Driscoll
  • Partners in Advocacy (PiA) and National Providers Network (NPN) Chair, Tracey McFall
  • Partners in Advocacy (PiA), Pauline Cavanagh
  • Scottish Children’s Report Administration (SCRA), Melissa Hunt
  • Who Cares? Scotland (WC?S), Denny Ford


  • Advocacy Service Aberdeen, Kevin McBeath
  • Barnardo’s, Selwyn McCausland
  • Borders Independent Advocacy Service, Lorna Ratky-Smith
  • Clan Childlaw, Vicki Straiton
  • Partners in Advocacy, Iain Templeton
  • Scottish Child Law Centre, Irina Beaton
  • Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance, Meg Wright
  • Scottish Government, Pam Semple and Tom McNamara

Items and actions


Items and actions

This note provides an overview of the discussion and key action points from the meeting of the Training and continuing professional development (CPD) Sub-Group of the Children Hearings Advocacy Expert Reference Group (ERG).

The meeting took place as a videoconference on Tuesday 31 August 2021.  Papers issued for this meeting included: the meeting note from 13 July; mapping learning and development resources for children’s hearings advocacy workers; and a draft multi-agency workforce skills and knowledge framework. 

Welcome, introductions and apologies

The Chair welcomed Denny Ford to the group representing Who Cares? Scotland as Brian Houston has left the organisation. 

Note of last meeting on 13 July

The note of the last meeting was agreed.  The Chair highlighted the actions from the note and the following updates were given:

Action:  PiA and CHIP to populate the gaps identified in the framework and develop this in more detail.

Update:  Feedback for the last meeting about presentation and strategic alignments have been gathered.  This meeting aims to gather more of the detail in terms of resources for learning and development that are being accessed by advocacy workers/organisations.  Further detail at item 4 below.

Action:  A small group, WC?S and IAPK to take forward exploratory work on what would be required to develop a qualification for children’s advocacy workers: what might it look like, feel like and who would need to be involved.

Update:  Clare from IAPK informed the group that a meeting with The Glasgow Advocacy Project will be set up shortly to learn how they approached developing the qualification.  SG will be invited to this.

Action:  Plans to set up peer learning support of workers across the organisations will be put on the agenda for the next National Provider Network (NPN) meeting.

Update:  A good discussion took place at the children’s hearings advocacy NPN meeting on 13 August about local arrangements between providers, and other stakeholders, where advocacy workers had the opportunity to discuss their practice and learn from each other.  It was hope information could be collated and shared amongst the provider organisations and SG to share good practice.  Reflective practice, professional practice and practitioner workshops were also discussed and an annual Children’s Hearings System advocacy worker event was also to be explored further. 

Action:  SG to speak to Clan Childlaw about sharing information developed as part of the training on the basic changes in law relating to siblings’ rights.

Update:  SG disseminated to the group on 20 and 26 July information from Clan Childlaw about new sibling’s rights in the law and the Legal Advice Service and the new national practice guidance for social workers. 

Action: SCRA and CHIP to develop a paper on the new sibling participation rights and procedure within children’s hearings, which SG will share with children’s advocacy workers and other ERG members.

Update:  This was nearly completed and would be shared with the group shortly.

Draft Skills and Knowledge Framework for advocacy workers within children’s hearings

There was a short paper shared in advance of the meeting that outlined some of the initial mapping of learning and development resources gathered previously from the group.

The Chair opened this item.  The group have previously discussed the various strategic elements to be included in developing a workforce plan in relation to the Children’s Hearings system.  This session asked the group to think about what learning and development their staff currently access that would help populate a learning and development matrix of availability aligned with the skills and knowledge requirements (as previously identified) for advocacy workers within the Children’s Hearings system.  It was also acknowledged that the exercise may also identify gaps. A copy of the whiteboard slides generated from the feedback given during the session is attached at Annex A.

In addition to the feedback within the whiteboard, contributions were made surrounding the levels of details of the law that an advocacy worker would require compared to a children’s lawyer.  The skills and knowledge need to be proportionate to the role for example, a more in-depth knowledge around parental rights and responsibilities, rights of the child, powers of a hearing, roles and responsibilities but may only require a basic level of awareness about children’s legal assistance.

Opportunities to have joint training was discussed.  It was suggested the courts process could be learned using mock exercises to build understanding and a better sense of feeling around this part of the hearings process and how the people with differing roles and responsibilities work together to support the child to participate and uphold their rights. This should include things like the platforms being used to support digital participation.

It was commented that the mandatory induction training on the law from Clan Childlaw has been very good and well received.  There will be refresher sessions for all advocacy workers under the national scheme in November.  The new Legal Advice Service for advocacy workers under the national scheme will also help with increasing knowledge and skills and supporting a child to access legal assistance / a lawyer if this is the appropriate support needed.

Another suggestion made was for advocacy organisations to consider sharing with each other the core learning and development elements of their organisational induction pack in order to build a more consistent picture and to take similar approaches.

The discussion also picked up on the alignments being made with the workforce framework and the project to develop the outcomes tools to support consistency across the Children’s Hearings Advocacy scheme.


  • all to consider and provide any additional detail to input to make on learning and development resources accessed by staff that would help to populate the skills and knowledge matrix
  • NPN to consider compiling the core learning and development elements within in organisational indications across the provider organisations

  • PiA, CHIP and SG will gather all the feedback and use this to develop the skills and knowledge framework. This will be worked on over the next couple of months and then shared with this sub-group for final comments or inputs.  It will then be shared with the Expert Reference Group for advice and endorsement

Workforce development and bigger system

A draft paper was issued and this set out a proposal for a multi-agency workforce knowledge and skills development framework.

The Chair explained this proposal was building on the comments and directions given previously by the group.  The aim for this part of the meeting was to consider the key staff/workers that are involved in part of the journey for a child through the Children’s Hearings system broadly.  The main question asked and discussed was, considering the skill and knowledge levels, was there any agencies and roles missing in the proposal?

A digital whiteboard was also used as visual for this discussion and the feedback offered during the session was collected within the board - Annex B

There was discussion about some agencies intersecting the tiers based on workers varying roles and level of specialist training/qualification, including across social work practice and police.  A more direct discussion with these organisation would be needed to understand where they would be able to see the fit.

Another matter raised was scoping the definitions for the tiers, what is meant in this context by informed, skilled and enhanced?  The draft framework is a simplified version of the NES Transforming Psychological Trauma Knowledge and Skills Framework

The draft will be developed over the next few months and shared with the sub-group for final deliberations.  The planning for this piece of work is to take the developed proposal to the CHIP group for broader consideration and ownership across the system partners. 


  • CHIP, PiA and SG will develop this proposal with more detail and in consideration to the feedback and inputs provided.  This will be shared with this sub-group for final views and a plan will be worked out for informing and taking advice from the Expert Reference Group.

Annex A

Skills and knowledge framework for advocacy workers within children’s hearings

The activity involved a digital whiteboard and these notes capture the contributions added to the whiteboard.

Questions and prompts:

  • what learning and development does your staff access or things they should have access to?
  • thinking about courses, standard frameworks, networks, work based coaching/peer support etc.
  • think about - what information and learning advocacy workers and others provide to develop the knowledge of others around what the role of the advocacy worker is and what they can and can’t do

Skills and knowledge


  • skills to capture evidence and measure outcomes (casework/outcomes tools)
  • domestic abuse awareness (SafeLives and Scottish Government)


  • trauma informed training up to level two. Adverse Childhood Experiences (NES National Training Programme and Local Authority courses)

Sharing information:

  • capacity, consent and confidentiality
  • supporting children and young people remotely (EVOC the Council for Voluntary Service for the City of Edinburgh and part of a national network of third sector interfaces)

Working with other professionals:

  • child and Adult Support and Protection (Local Authority)



  • familiarisation with GIRFEC (SG resources and LA networks multi-agency training)
  • non-instructed advocacy (SIAA guidance/practice standards)

Listening (and communication should be included?):

  • virtual digital communications, digital tools, engaging with CYP digitally. (Lots of learning around COVID-19). CHS platform for Virtual Hearings?
  • understanding and supporting CYP individually- disabilities, support needs
  • talking mats


Children’s Hearings System:

  • ethics/working with other professionals
  • boundaries/expectations - advocacy and other professional (Clan Childlaw training for CHS Advocacy Workers, SCRA and CHIP online materials)
  • courses - child development, diversity, equality and inclusion, neglect, permanence, ACEs within the hearings room, contact (CHS Learning Academy)


  • -'Your Rights’ Project (SCRA)
  • parental rights and responsibilities


  • CHS advocacy workers- mandatory induction and refresher training and the new legal support service for legally informed advocacy and access to solicitor when needed (Clan Childlaw)
  • basic awareness of Child Legal Aid (SLAB and Clan Legal Support Service)

Annex B

Workforce development and bigger system

The activity involved a digital whiteboard and these notes capture the contributions added to the whiteboard.

Skills and knowledge required across all agencies for people whose work intersects with Children’s Hearings – who are the agencies and what are the roles?

Tier one: informed

  • Children’s Hearings Scotland Staff. Panel members. Area support team members, e.g. Panel Practice Advisors
  • Scottish Courts and Tribunal Services (SCTS)
  • foster carers, kinship, carers etc. and organisation/networks e.g. The Fostering Network, Parent line.
  • some parts of the third sector including youth workers

Tier two: skilled

  • advocacy workers
  • teachers/educators
  • health professionals e.g. school nurse, speech and language therapist
  • safeguarders
  • social workers- does this need defined more into particular roles?
  • solicitors
  • SCRA Reports - skilled and possible enhanced in some situations

Tier three: enhanced

Residential and Secure Units/staff.

Police - may be across some or all tiers depending on role e.g. trained for Jll’s may be enhanced, others with roles working with community/family/children may be skilled.

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