Coronavirus (COVID-19): Children and Families Collective Leadership Group minutes - 10 December 2020

Minutes for the meeting of the group on 10 December 2020.

Attendees and apologies

Chair: Karen Reid

Meeting participants


  • Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES) - Douglas Hutchison, apologies from Jennifer King
  • Care Inspectorate - Helen Happer, apologies from Peter Macleod
  • 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, Jillian Ingram
  • Disabled Children and Young People Advisory Group (DCYPAG) - Jim Carle 
  • Education Scotland - Laura-Ann Currie
  • The Promise - Thomas Carlton, apologies from Fiona Duncan
  • Inspiring Children’s Futures, University of Strathclyde - Jennifer Davidson
  • NHS Chief Executives  - Angela Wallace
  • Police Scotland - Martin Maclean (deputy for Sam McCluskey)
  • Public Health Scotland - Debby Wason
  • Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA) - Neil Hunter
  • Scottish Government - Michael Chalmers, Iona Colvin, Ann Holmes, Wendy Mitchell, Marie McQuade (deputy for Kate Smith), Angela Davidson, apologies from Carolyn Younie 
  • SOLACE - apologies from Grace Vickers
  • Scottish Social Services Council - Phillip Gillespie
  • Social Work Scotland - Alison Gordon

Additional meeting participants:

  • Jenny Hamilton, SG Head of Strategy and GIRFEC Hub
  • Rod Finan, SG Professional Social Work Adviser
  • Felicity Sung, SG National Lead on Pregnancy and Parenthood in Young People Strategy
  • Alyson Mitchell, SG Head of Digital Participation, Office of the Chief Designer
  • Sarah McLeod, SG Senior Policy Officer, Office of the Chief Designer
  • Kim McLaren, Connecting Scotland
  • Laura James, National Cedar Network Coordinator, The Improvement Service
  • Sharon Glen, SG National Trauma Training Programme policy lead
  • Sandra Ferguson, National Trauma Training Programme lead, NHS Education for Scotland
  • Clare Simpson, Chair of the CYPF Advisory Group
  • Mairi Macpherson, SG Deputy Director – Improving Health and Wellbeing (C and F Directorate)
  • Bill Scott-Watson, SG Interim Deputy Director - Strategy, GIRFEC and The Promise
  • Laura Holton, SG Head of Family Unit
  • Leadership Group Secretariat: Anne-Marie Conlong, Claire Scott and Chris Lindores

Items and actions

Update on actions from 26 November 2020 meeting

One amendment from Jackie Brock. On page 4 in relation to the meeting with Iona Colvin on ‘You Said, We Did’, the goal was not to discuss but to meet to agree how this could be achieved and reported on. The Secretariat is checking with Jackie to clarify this.


  • LG members to email LG Secretariat inbox with further comments or updates on actions.

GIRFEC refresh

Jenny Hamilton (SG Lead on the GIRFEC refresh) spoke to the following slides:

Jenny emphasised that the refresh does not mean taking a new approach but building upon the work already undertaken.  The main aims of the refresh will be to update the values, principles and core component of the policy statement; revise practice materials; provide guidance on information sharing; produce public-facing materials and undertake awareness raising work.

The Group were invited to discuss the following issues:

  • re-affirm GIRFEC as our national approach to improving outcomes – role for the strategic outcomes framework
  • views on how we move forward with the GIRFEC refresh at practice level, particularly given wider pressures on the frontline workforce
  • how to maintain the positive learning and good practice from Covid working in refreshing the GIRFEC materials?
  • leadership group provides governance for GIRFEC - thoughts on small working group for GIRFEC refresh

Key points made in discussion were as follows:

  • it is essential to demonstrate a coherent approach across UNCRC, GIRFEC and the Promise. The UNCRC is the underpinning legislation for all the work taking place. The Promise and GIRFEC build on this through the principles, values and operational framework that they provide
  • need to link strongly with wider work on improving outcomes across SG including the National Performance Framework, the Child Poverty Action Plan and improvements in health, housing and social security provision
  • a question was posed about plans for restarting the pre-Covid governance arrangements for GIRFEC which had covered leadership, improving outcomes, and policy and practice issues. Michael Chalmers responded that a review of governance groups is taking place across the different workstreams to streamline arrangements and improve multi-agency working. Bill Scott-Watson confirmed that a paper on the status of governance and working groups will be provided early next year
  • the refresh is at practice level- is LG the right forum for looking at how we support? A lack of clarity around what we want from a GIRFEC refresh. Are we looking now to move GIRFEC into a wider arena more assertively? Can we build a little on the great work already done but unpick some of the strands?
  • important to achieve the right balance at national and local levels in producing refreshed GIRFEC materials and other support for practitioners
  • an important role for LG in co-ordinating and aligning policies, guidance and practice. This includes ensuring the right pathways to the right services are clearly defined, appropriate and accessible for children and families when they need them. This will also help local teams to focus on developing more specific materials for their particular areas
  • how do we lift GIRFEC into everything we are doing? We need to broaden our discussions- there is a worry that we are still talking in silos. Should be a whole child approach
  • we cannot just produce guidance and then put the onus on front line staff. How do we really support the sector in alignment and coordination? 
  • Iona noted that on the tour of Scotland last year, there was confusion as to whether the named person meant that GIRFEC had been achieved. Have we really implemented the national practice model? The pandemic has shown we can come out of our silos but are we going back in? Deep End GP Practices are really interested in these discussions. Do we have the right pathways when families need more intensive support?
  • it is both a cultural and a structural issue in how we are dealing with GIRFEC across Scotland. Do we need a more targeted approach rather than just refreshing materials? We could come back to this in the future
  • the refresh needs to provide opportunities for the lived experiences of children and families to shape both the approach and the outcomes. The evidence base developed for the Promise with the child at the centre will help to do this
  • it was agreed that Jenny would come back to the Group in due course

Additional points from MS Teams chat:

  • the refresh should focus on how to deliver the Core Components of GIRFEC in a way that upholds and promotes rights based work, UNCRC and Human Rights, should not be consulting again on the merits of Core Components
  • Michael confirmed that any consultation would be on the how, rather than the what, so not on the merits of the core components but about how we support their deliver them
  • agreement that it is about how we facilitate strategically and not more procedures
  • if GIRFEC is working properly then there should be less professional footfall because the professionals will work together as one team and families will have one point of contact unless they need more, e.g. access to specialist services or where there are serious concerns about risk
  • agreement that the refresh needs to take a strengths based approach which encompass the strength of families, their friends and communities    


  • Bill Scott-Watson to provide LG with a paper on governance and working groups early in 2021
  • liaison in the new year between Jenny Hamilton and Secretariat to arrange a follow-up item on GIRFEC at a future meeting. 
  • any further comments to be sent to the Secretariat mailbox:

Digital inclusion update [paper 20/02]

Felicity Sung spoke to the paper which had been circulated in advance.  This provided evidence from third sector partners working with children and families on the challenges and positives due to increased digital engagement necessary because of Covid-19.  Bill added that there is an increased need to incorporate digital inclusion to the wider strategic discussion and that we look at things through a ‘digital rights’ lens. 

Felicity then drew members’ attention to the following final paragraph of the paper on welcoming the views of LG on the challenges and positive issues raised, and whether there are others that need to be considered, to help shape priorities and ambitions for digital inclusion for children, young people and families.

Key points made in discussion were as follows:

  • to reiterate the point made by Bill, it is important to see digital as an enabler. It doesn’t suit every situation and every individual. It’s not just about clients, it’s also about the people who are there to support them having the right skills and systems to help. There is the opportunity for digital to enable other rights
  • Sarah McLeod (SG Digital Directorate) advised that they have been doing work with Young Scot over the past couple of years on digital rights alongside the UNCRC. Have been working with the Children’s Rights Team and Bill and Felicity on how to join all this up
  • it was agreed that Louise MacDonald from Young Scot should be invited to a future meeting to discuss their work on this
  • the Group agreed that they were content with the four key actions outlined in Felicity’s paper


  • any further comments to be sent to the Secretariat mailbox:
  • Secretariat to liaise with Louise MacDonald from Young Scot to invite them to present on their digital work in 2021

National Trauma Training Programme update and learning from deep-dive events

Laura James from the Violence Against Women Team at the Improvement Service  delivered a presentation on the findings from two recent ‘deep dive’ workshops on how we can support trauma informed practice relating to children and families, and violence against women- groups who were seen as most affected by the pandemic. These workshops formed part of the National Trauma Training Programme (NTTP) which supports the SG and COSLA’s shared ambition for a trauma informed workforce and services across Scotland, to support recovery from the pandemic.

Laura asked the group for discussion on the following three areas: 

  • we would welcome reflections from the group on the barriers, enablers and key actions for embedding a trauma-informed approach that were identified in the first two deep dives. Can the group identify any others it would be helpful for us to consider and discuss?
  • what actions can this group take to ensure a trauma-informed approach is promoted and prioritised as part of wider COVID-19 response for children and families?
  • how can we ensure this learning is linked in with the Social Renewal Advisory Board, the refresh of GIRFEC, delivery of The Promise?

Key points made in discussion were as follows:

  • don’t see barriers but more opportunities
  • very similar to the conversation we have just had around GIRFEC. This is an opportunity to use the NTTP to enhance practice and is a reminder that practitioners themselves may have experienced trauma
  • important that, as leaders, we understand what happens to people when they experience trauma and that they may sometimes act and behave in ways easy to be misunderstand. We need to keep the workforce at the heart of this
  • the synergies are absolutely explicit. How do we corral all this training to avoid having a load of separate training programmes? This is all about a way of ‘being’ with people, it’s a way of working that crosses many, many policy areas. We could go further to synergise this work – not training people in silos, not about just GIRFEC or Trauma – it’s about a way of being
  • Sandra Ferguson highlighted that NES offers a wide range of free-to-access resources and support for trauma training. NES continue to develop the resources available for CYP. The aim is to create things that are flexible enough to suit whatever your circumstances are, as well as more nuanced resources. Also, resources on staff wellbeing
  • Laura-Ann Currie spoke about the connections with the Education Scotland resource Compassionate Connected Classrooms
  • Martin MacLean spoke about the work Police Scotland are undertaking on Joint Investigative Interviewing to support vulnerable victims and witnesses but highlighted that there are some capacity issues
  • interest was expressed in hearing about how a trauma informed approach can be used with a whole group to address mass trauma, e.g. a classroom. Laura-Ann will send on links

Additional points from MS Teams Chat:

  • the wellbeing of teachers is one of the areas which Education Scotland have identified as requiring strengthening as part of Compassionate Connected Classrooms. It is also important to strengthen universal services to address the impact of trauma, poverty and mental health issues
  • we also need to consider how we embed this in undergraduate programmes for practitioners, e.g. in nursing, social work, teaching, medicine
  • Alan Small noted that Dundee City COG are undertaking the STILT training and Fife COG are signing the pledge. At a point when all partnerships will be revising their CP guidance and training to align with the new national CP Guidance, there is an opportunity to embed the messages re: trauma awareness and training in all strategic documentation   


  • Sandra Ferguson will circulate links to NES trauma training resources
  • Laura-Ann Currie will circulate links to Education Scotland resources


Annie Gunner Logan noted concerns over child care staff who had not been included in the £500 bonus announced for health and care staff and asked members for any thoughts.

Michael provided a brief update on the £23.5 million winter funding package for vulnerable children, young people and families. This includes: £8m to local authorities for residential care with £1m for secure care, £8m for Children’s Hearings and £6m for local authorities to support services for vulnerable children and young people.

Michael informed members that the next meeting will be on Thursday 28 January, 14.00-16.00, and will return to a fortnightly schedule after that.  The prospective agenda includes items on family support and the Children’s Wellbeing Economy Budget.    


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