Children’s Hearings Redesign Board minutes: March 2024

Minutes from the meeting of the Children’s Hearings Redesign Board 13 March 2024

Attendees and apologies

  • Ian Donaldson, Scottish Government, Chair 
  • Jillian Gibson, COSLA (for Laura Caven, joint Chair)
  • Neil Hunter, Principal Reporter, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration
  • Elliot Jackson, National Convener, Children’s Hearings Scotland
  • Lynsey Byrne, Social Work Scotland

Supporting officials

  • Tom McNamara, Scottish Government
  • Susan Downes, Scottish Government (secretariat)


  • Laura Caven, COSLA

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Ian Donaldson opened the meeting by welcoming members to the second meeting of the Children’s Hearings Redesign Board and thanked members for attending. He explained that the primary focus of the meeting was the workplan and specifically identifying the role the board believes it has in terms of commissioning and supervision of the current improvement work.

Members agreed the minute of the previous meeting, and authorised publication on the Children’s Hearings Redesign Board webpage.


Secretariat to publish minute from the previous meeting on the Children’s Hearings Redesign Board webpage.


Terms of Reference  

A revised version of the Terms of Reference had been circulated in advance of the meeting for members’ consideration. A few minor amendments were requested following previous discussions which are now incorporated, including noting that the frequency of meeting may change to reflect business needs.

Members agreed the updated Terms of Reference were now an accurate reflection of discussions and authorised publication on the Children’s Hearings Redesign Board webpage.


Secretariat to publish Terms of Reference on the Children’s Hearings Redesign Board webpage.


A number of papers were circulated in advance of the meeting which highlighted the work currently underway in SCRA, CHS, SWS and Scottish Government.

​​​​​​​The recommendations and Government responses have now been categorised into workstreams and mapped against the work currently underway to demonstrate that the board were not starting from a blank page.

The board agreed they should determine a number of priorities for 2024 and 2025. These priorities should be sufficiently strategic and high-level but demonstrate a clear sense of direction and achievement. The board should only get involved in individual recommendations where work is particularly groundbreaking or specific difficulties are identified.

The board discussed the need to give the appropriate authority to the Planning Group or to CHIP members to carry out work in a collaborative way, including situations where there is a single agency lead responsible for the work. This requires sufficient oversight and understanding of the recommendations to identify where there are overlaps or stress points.

Members recognised that Scottish Ministers have responded to ‘Hearings for Children’, the Hearings System Working Group's Redesign Report published in May 2023 and have accepted a number of the recommendations. However, there was a need to ensure all the board members have an agreed understanding of the proposed actions and of their respective starting points in relation to them. Were there to be instances where members cannot reach full agreement there would need to be a transparent record of the reasons.

Members agreed time should be taken to go through all recommendations, and the Government’s responses and policy justifications, to ensure a mutual understanding and agreement of work required for each. In advance of the next meeting COSLA and SWS will meet to discuss the recommendations, particularly those identified as requiring ‘further work needed with Local Authority and Social Work’ to highlight any issues or changes which need further discussion at the board.


COSLA and SWS to go through the recommendations and identify areas where further discussion or possible amendments are required.


Secretariat to arrange a workshop with COSLA and SWS to discuss those recommendations identified as requiring ‘further work needed with Local Authority and Social Work’.


In advance of the next meeting, secretariat should develop, as a single source of truth, a document containing all recommendations, the Scottish Government response, work currently underway, any suggested amendments or issues, and proposed next actions.

Members discussed potential commissioning of the Children’s Hearings Improvement Partnership (CHIP) to do some work on the communications workstream. CHIP brings together representatives from a number of key partners, so are in a unique position to raise broader awareness and give a real multi-agency view. This would also sit well alongside some of the other work they are currently doing.

The board agreed to work being commissioned from CHIP and noted that all work being delegated or commissioned needs to be accompanied by a clear outline of expectations in terms of the work to be conducted and reporting expectations. It must be made clear that the board retains ownership and responsibility.


Secretariat to draft communication for CHIP, commissioning the required work and identifying reporting expectations.

Lobbying and offers of involvement

The Scottish Government team have been approached by a number of organisations and individuals who have expressed a desire to either attend meetings or become board members.

The board agreed that membership of the Children’s Hearings Redesign Board should remain restricted to those organisations currently represented. The planning sub-group membership should also remain restricted to representatives from statutory partners who have professional experience, programme management skills or operational backgrounds in the relevant field.

Members recognised significant positive interest across the sector and some great work being developed which will have an impact on this work. However, they agreed the importance of the board having an opportunity to develop their own collective view before inviting others to express views to them in the context of their wider work programme.


Secretariat to develop a log of approaches from organisations and individuals for the board to consider at a later date.

Any other Business

No further items were raised.

Date of next meeting

To fit with the schedule to the COSLA's Children and Young People Board the next meeting should be held no later than 10 May 2024.

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