Coronavirus (COVID-19): Children and Families Collective Leadership Group minutes - 1 October 2020

Minutes for the meeting of the group on 1 October 2020.

Attendees and apologies

Chair: Michael Chalmers

Meeting participants


  • Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES) - Jennifer King
  • Care Inspectorate - Andrew Gillies (deputy for Peter Macleod), apologies from Helen Happer
  • CELCIS, University of Strathclyde - Claire Burns
  • Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS) - Elliot Jackson
  • Children in Scotland - Jackie Brock
  • Child Protection Committees Scotland - Alan Small
  • Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS) - Annie Gunner Logan
  • COSLA - Eddie Follan
  • Disabled Children and Young People Advisory Group (DCYPAG) - apologies from Jim Carle
  • Education Scotland - Laura-Ann Currie
  • The Promise - Thomas Carlton
  • Inspiring Children’s Futures, University of Strathclyde - Jennifer Davidson
  • NHS Chief Executives - Angela Wallace
  • Police Scotland - Sam McCluskey
  • Public Health Scotland  - Debby Wason
  • Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA) - Neil Hunter
  • Scottish Government - Michael Chalmers, Iona Colvin, Laura Meikle, Wendy Mitchell, Marie McQuade (deputy for Kate Smith), apologies from Ann Holmes and Hugh McAloon
  • SOLACE - Grace Vickers
  • Scottish Social Services Council - Phillip Gillespie
  • Social Work Scotland - Alison Gordon

Additional meeting participants:

  • Sharon Glen and Lorimer Mackenzie, SG Trauma Training Policy Leads
  • Sandra Ferguson, NHS Education for Scotland
  • Bill Scott-Watson, SG Acting Deputy Director, Care, Protection and Justice Division, C&F Directorate
  • Diana Beveridge, SG Head of Children and Young People Improvement Collaborative 
  • Helen Fogarty, SG Head of Children’s Rights Unit
  • Ellen Birt, SG UNCRC Audit and Incorporation Team
  • Gita Sharkey, SG Children’s Rights and Participation Team Leader
  • Mairi Macpherson, SG Deputy Director, Creating Positive Futures, C and F Directorate
  • Tamsyn Wilson, SG Senior Research Officer, C and F Analysis
  • Leadership Group secretariat: Sara Dodds and Chris Lindores
  • Laura Holton, SG Head of Family Unit, C and F Directorate

Items and actions

Note and updates on actions from 3 September meeting

The note of the 3 September meeting was previously agreed by email. Members noted the updates on the actions and had no further updates or queries.

National Trauma Training Programme: training for people within the care system

Sharon Glen outlined the policy context and ambitions for the National Trauma Training Programme (NTTP), with oversight by a national steering group (chaired by Deputy First Minister). She also informed attendees about three local authority delivery trials – Argyle and Bute, Glasgow and Midlothian – which are looking at different approaches to rolling out the training.

Sandra Ferguson introduced the Knowledge and Skills Framework for Psychological Trauma, which sets out the four different practice levels and the NTTP plan publication. She highlighted the central role of people with lived experience and crucial importance of staff wellbeing. Comments were invited on the proposals for trauma training for people within the care system and opportunities for collaboration going forward. 

Attendees made the following points during discussion:

  • Laura-Ann Currie provided a brief update on education aspects of the NTTP. She noted that Education Scotland have worked alongside Sandra on the Compassionate Connected Classroom (CCC).  28 local authorities have participated in a ‘train the trainer’ model based around adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and effective interventions. They have seen an increase in interest in the CCC following the COVID crisis
  • Thomas Carlton noted he has previously met with Sharon and Sandra to discuss how the NTTP relates to The Promise and is supportive of the work. He is keen to see how the work progresses beyond the initial timescale outlined
  • Elliot Jackson noted he and Neil Hunter had also met with Sharon and Sandra, which was especially helpful providing a context to the recovery plan of the Children’s Hearings system given the backlog to be handled over the next six months
  • Alison Gordon agreed with the priorities outlined in the paper but wondered about whether the supporting capacity was in place to deliver these. Sandra noted that the CCC approach works alongside existing efforts to try and avoid duplication of effort
  • Iona Colvin asked, given what we know about families’ experiences over the last 6 months, how we might prioritise the NTTP for families providing immediate support? She noted some of this sits within the third sector, (e.g. family support mostly resides in the third sector) and also welcomed the discussion of teachers, as they are currently in contact with the most children (e.g. the drop-off in child protection referrals during lockdown was in large part driven by lack of contact with teachers)

Comments from chat:

‘Great to hear reference to implementation evidence!’

‘Delighted to hear the feedback about Argyll & Bute where delivery is being taken forward by a consortium of third sector organisations’

‘Good to hear the links to Joint Investigative Interviewing’

‘From the pilots, is there a sense of which areas of the workforce may need to be targeted, assuming that there are areas, such as teachers and educational psychologists, who will have been involved in

Nurture approaches (and the model Laura-Ann is describing)?’  Response from Laura-Ann: ‘The CCC programme pulls together the Nurture work which Scottish teachers are very familiar.’

‘Really welcome this ... another example of innovation that would benefit from alignment and coordination with the Promise. There are so many layers that we need to help the sector think about sequencing - this feels like a foundational piece that permeates throughout other improvements.’

‘Made my day to hear reference to the drivers.’

‘I welcome this report - SSSC is fully committed to supporting this and embedding this in the workforce including carers and families. SSSC is also part of the implementation group.’

‘Welcome the groups of staff and carers noted in the proposals, but are children's social workers and residential care workers also included or this just a starter?’ Response from Laura-Ann Currie: ‘Education Scotland have met with the authors of CCC, and the trainers who are mainly educational psychologists to look at how we can take account of the impact of COVID and incorporate into the current pack.’


  • Eddie Follan to bring NTTP back to elected members and COSLA CYP Board in November 2020 and to liaise with Sandra Ferguson on arrangements. 
  • LG members to volunteer for working group to discuss trauma training with Sharon and Sandra – Iona Colvin will coordinate this, so please express your interest via LG Secretariat
  • members who volunteered in the chat during the meeting are: Annie Gunner Logan, Phillip Gillespie, Claire Burns, Thomas Carlton, Andrew Gillies

Leadership Group – ‘lessons learned’ and next steps

Bill Scott-Watson introduced his paper which builds on the ‘Lessons Learned’ session on 17 September (Annex A). Bill also noted that we will follow up this discussion at the 15 October LG meeting to discuss further steps and actions. In addition, Claire Burns provided context for the CELCIS paper (Annex C). She noted that it can be difficult for frontline practitioners to capture learning, so CELCIS are helping to provide that function and the paper summarises the key themes identified in feedback from services and local areas. It’s not a systematic evidence review, rather it aims to capture ‘emerging practice’ (i.e. promising practice that might need more research and ‘deeper dives’) – for example, children who had a better experiences when not in education and different ways to get money directly to families.

‘Lessons Learned’ on delivery of children’s services:

  • Jennifer King noted ADES and CYPIC are looking to learn from early evidence during lockdown regarding children and young people who weren’t physically attending the hubs - they are hoping to report around March/April 2021. She noted that during lockdown, services had more time to be flexible and responsive when engaging with families as they had stopped doing other activities at scale
  • Wendy Mitchell noted she had heard from people and seen from research in England some families are struggling to engage with services – this is useful but it would be helpful to understand this in the Scottish context as a starting point. She also noted that while the data we have is about those known and considered vulnerable, there are those who are not known to services who are equally, if not more, vulnerable but not represented
  • Debby Wason stated that Public Health Scotland (PHS) are repeating the survey of 2-7 year olds and undertaking research (jointly funded with SG) on pregnancy and birth experiences over last six months. PHS are hearing from early years staff and health visitors about their interactions with families, but there are also concerns about how the staff are coping under current conditions.
  • Iona Colvin recalled previous PHS survey finding about people who sought help but couldn’t get it and stated that we need to keep that in mind and think about communications during future lockdowns and restrictions
  • Thomas Carlton questioned if we are able to understand if the changes made are alleviating system pressures to make things easier for the workforce and/or are they supportive of long term positive outcomes (e.g. is the attainment gap for looked after children being closed? Are children and young people gaining experience of life outside their residential care context?) He noted that we need to understand the limitations and long-term impact of the changes and that bureaucracy is useful in providing scrutiny where intervention into family life is taking place

Comments from chat on ‘Lessons Learned’ on delivery of children’s services:

‘For every child/service saying that their experience of lockdown has been positive - other children/families have said they felt cast adrift. We can contribute the evidence at both ends of the spectrum.’ Claire Burns responded: ‘An important point. I meant to say that i had shared this paper with CCPS as a check on what was being offered in the paper.’

‘On reduced bureaucracy - a general observation from right across the third sector (not just children's services) was that the lifting of close monitoring (especially financial monitoring and tight contractual conditions around delivery) freed up many organisations to identify and respond to priorities rather than just being 'told what to do'. In that sense it took some of us back to the days of grant funding rather than pre-specified contractual arrangements. And it started to feel more like third sector as trusted partners rather than contracted suppliers. Which is where we want to be, I think’

‘Agree Iona - raises some issues re vulnerability of our GIRFEC pathways’

‘SG Directorate for Early Learning and Childcare has worked with Early Years Scotland to fund an early years staff wellbeing hub that may be of interest. 

Data and research (annex B):

  • Sara Dodds outlined next steps for the provision of evidence briefings and the work of the Advisory Group (AG) on participation of CYP and Families. She invited comments on topics of interest for future evidence briefings and participation work to be undertaken by the AG
  • Bill noted the point on digital technology in Annex B and that this was brought up as a common theme during the ‘Lessons Learned’ section
  • Thomas Carlton asked if we can find a way to channel the views of children and young people in a more succinct way, rather than asking them to repeat the same views over and over to different people. He also stated that we need to consider the limitations of and alternatives to digital participation because – as the Chair of the Advisory Group noted at the last LG meeting - children and young people are becoming fatigued by this method of participation. He also noted that we should recognise that not all children and young people are being given the chance to participate in the first place

Collective Leadership – future and remit

Alan Small stated that groups run by the SG (such as the child protection group) should reconvene as these are more directly useful for people with a specific area of focus, rather than the broader remit of the LG. He also stated that generally the LG is useful and should continue but not at the expense of other, more focused groups. Several attendees agreed with this point in the chat.

Neil Hunter said the LG meetings shine a light on issues we might not usually consider, giving a broader view which is valuable. The LG’s key focus should be getting ahead of issues that seem to be on the horizon, deciding what we’d do differently in the event of further restrictions in the future. Several attendees agreed with this point in the chat.

Michael Chalmers agreed that groups with a specific remit can be helpful (if not duplicating work), but stated that the LG should continue as-is for the moment, as it’s essential for providing a whole system approach. He suggested that the LG remit could be reviewed again at some point. 

Comments from chat on Collective Leadership – future and remit:

‘In taking a whole system approach, how are we considering evidence in order to respond and progress change and improvement in a planned and consistent way from a national perspective?’

‘Coming from an organisation who is not always centred on children these meetings have been invaluable in helping us think about the balance between controlling the pandemic and the overall health of children.’


  • LG members to email LG Secretariat inbox with the following: further thoughts on Bill’s paper, ideas for Public Health Scotland survey of 2-7 year olds, views on how to use wider childcare sector to support vulnerable children during future possible future lockdowns (as this is likely to continue, even during a national lockdown), any material about identifying families who are now vulnerable as a result of lockdown
  • Bill-Scott Watson to contact Annie Gunner Logan to clarify research on third sector help provided during lockdown and share with LG, once published, for information
  • Wendy Mitchell and Debby Wason to meet to discuss emerging research re: families, in particular under 5s and related workforce. Both to also link in with work led by Carolyn Wilson on risks emerging for CYP
  • Iona to connect the work of the LG with the Healthy Living and Wellbeing Care Programme (led by SG Health) and to update LG at a future date
  • Sara Dodds to liaise with Advisory Group regarding the next steps on participation work

UNCRC update

Ellen Birt outlined the UNCRC Bill – vast majority of the convention and optional protocols 1 and 2 are being incorporated. Similar to the Human Rights Act, this means public bodies will have a duty not to act in a way that’s incompatible with children’s rights. As a matter of international law, these rights are already held by children and young people so all public bodies should already be operating in compatible way. The courts will be able strike down existing legislation if found to be incompatible with children’s rights. For legislation passed after the Bill, courts will be empowered with a remedy to declare legislation incompatible. The Bill also strengthens accountability in terms of policy and legislation, such as Ministers making statements of compatibility for new legislation and carrying out children’s rights and wellbeing impact assessments. Ministers are committed to giving effect to children’s rights and the Children and Young People’s Commissioner is firmly holding them to account on this.

Helen Fogarty noted that many organisations have advocated for UNCRC incorporation for many years and that elements of UNCRC have already been incorporated to some degree (such as in GIRFEC). Helen outlined the three year implementation programme which is set out in the financial memorandum of the Bill which consists of three strands:

1)    Leadership to ensure children’s rights embedded in governance and leadership discussions, producing guidance, tools and templates to assist people (more than just providing a checklist), reviewing legislation in terms of compatibility with UNCRC.
2)    Empowering children to claim and understand their rights so that they can advocate for and express themselves. Participation, equality and diversity are key here.
3)    Embedding children’s rights in public services, including creating an innovation fund for public services to engage with their communities about what would make a difference in terms of respecting, protecting and fulfilling children’s rights.


  • Alan Small was supportive of the Bill and its aims. However, he noted that the difficult part will be taking the message and provisions of the Bill to other non-children’s services, as wider adult services may not have this in their sights. Michael noted that the duty under the Bill applies to all public services, not just children’s services
  • Iona Colvin asked if Ellen and Helen made contact with colleagues regarding the right to housing?  Ellen noted that they spoke to SG housing colleagues in early Bill stages, and that this Bill, The Promise and Eddie Follan noted that relevant teams and portfolios are covering this work in COSLA, connecting with relevant SG colleagues
  • Grace Vickers noted the importance of a whole system approach, with all services doing their part

Comments from chat:
‘ADES have a working group responding to the bill and building on what is currently in place.’
‘Just conscious of the pressures there will be on services to take forward quite significant change programmes in the context of COVID. Important we recognise this - alignment and coordination and sequencing will be key.’    


  • LG members to consider how their organisations can raise awareness of UNCRC incorporation with other parties
  • LG members to send any further comments to LG Secretariat inbox


The Chair informed members that:

  • the next meeting is on 15 October (14.00-16.00) and agenda items are likely to include the next steps and actions for the LG, The Promise, youth justice, and child health data
  • members will soon receive placeholder meeting invites for the remainder of the year



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