Coronavirus (COVID-19): Children and Families Collective Leadership Group minutes - 21 January 2021

Minutes for the meeting of the group on 21 January 2021.

Attendees and apologies

Chair: Grace Vickers

Meeting participants


  • Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES) - Jennifer King, apologies from Douglas Hutchison
  • 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 
  • COSlocal authorities  - Eddie Follan, apologies from 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 - apologies from Angela Wallace 
  • Police Scotland - Sam McCluskey
  • Public Health Scotland - Debby Wason
  • Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA) - Alistair Hogg, apologies from Neil Hunter
  • Scottish Government - Michael Chalmers, Iona Colvin, Carolyn Younie, Ann Holmes, Kate Smith, Alison Cumming, apologies from Wendy Mitchell and Angela Davidson 
  • SOlocal authoritiesCE - Margo Williamson, aApologies from Karen Reid
  • Social Work Scotland - Alison Gordon
  • Scottish Social Services Council - apologies from Cheryl Glen and Laura Lamb

Agenda item 3 – daily pupil attendance and absence reporting

  • Gary Sutton, Education Analytical Services, Learning Directorate

Dialling in for info only:

  • Clare Simpson, Chair of the CYPF Advisory Group
  • Bill Scott-Watson, SG Interim Deputy Director - Strategy, GIRFEC and The Promise
  • Mairi Macpherson, SG Deputy Director – Improving Health and Wellbeing, C&F Directorate
  • Sara Hampson, SG Supporting Disabled Children and Young People, C&F Directorate joining from 4.00 p.m.
  • Bryony Revell, SG C&F Directorate

Leadership Group Secretariat:

  • Peter Donachie
  • Chris Lindores

Items and actions

Note and Actions from last meeting (7 January 2021)

Grace Vickers welcomed members to the additional meeting of Leadership Group. There were no amendments to the note of the previous meeting. Progress on actions were as follow:

Emerging findings from CEYRIS 2 (Covid-19 Early Years Resilience and Impact Survey) highlighted concerns over access to professional staff including nursery staff; teachers; health visitors; family support workers; health visitors; and allied health professionals. Leadership Group to consider what action could be taken in response to these findings.

Although CEYRIS is focused on children aged 2-7, there is a need for more data and intelligence on pre-school children perhaps through greater use of information from health visitor forms. Children on the edges of care including those previously unknown to services were also under-represented in the data.  


  • this is being taken forward through the access workstream in the action plan
  • Debby Wason and Wendy Mitchell are meeting next week to discuss how best to improve coverage of under-represented groups

Daily pupil attendance and absence reporting

Gary Sutton provided a presentation covering data on daily pupil and staff attendance at local authority schools during the first lockdown between April and August; the period when schools had fully re-opened between August and December; and the current restrictions. Gary highlighted that whereas a maximum of around 3,000 vulnerable pupils had attended school during the first lockdown, current estimates were that between 18-19,000 vulnerable pupils were attending school during the current restrictions. Gary’s presentations can be accessed here:

Updated information is also published each Thursday.

Queries and issues raised in discussion included:

  • whether more detailed figures can be provided on particular groups of pupils attending school under the definition of vulnerable children and young people used in the guidance
  • children and young people with Additional Support Needs can be included in attendance figures for children of key workers as well as those for vulnerable pupils
  • it is not possible to tell from the data whether the same vulnerable children and young people are attending school each day. Consideration had been given to using a flagging system or other approach but this proved too challenging to develop for several reasons including uncertainty over how long the restrictions will last
  • whether the existing data sets should be supplemented by further mass data collections on follow-up contacts with families and home learning. However, requesting more new mass data collections risked increasing the pressures on local authorities and diverting work on other priorities. The Group agreed that the main focus should be on seeking information and assurances that effective systems are in place to generate follow-up engagement with families where vulnerable children and young people are not attending school or accessing remote learning. Case studies and examples of good practice should be gathered and shared as part of the action plan and the Leadership Group’s own oversight role. Jennifer King noted the Hidden Harm initiative in Dundee as a good example of the engagement work taking place. Margo Williamson said that in Angus follow up work is covering both welfare and education issues including supporting access to online equipment and materials
  • Eddie Follan highlighted that many local authorities are identifying children who are digitally excluded as vulnerable and this should form part of the work taken forward 
  • newly vulnerable families are not yet appearing in child protection data but this will happen soon as chief social workers are reporting increased demands
  • Iona Colvin noted that she will be meeting Debby Wason and other colleagues to discuss the core datasets for vulnerable children and young people

Additional points from MS Teams chat:

Some of the children most likely to be staying at home are those with disabilities/ASN and while home learning may work for them the lack of pupil assistants/support is a problem in them being able to engage with learning.

How do we factor in non-universal services for bespoke needs?

Discussions taking place with improvement service and others on a one stop overview of data collection for children's services. Children's Services Planning Strategic Leads Network also have a keen interest in developing more integrated data/reporting approaches.


  • Gary Sutton to check whether any data beyond the total figures is available
  • Leadership Group and sub-groups to develop case studies and examples of good practice
  • Iona Colvin to discuss with Thomas Carlton data for pupils in care placements and community
  • Kate Smith to provide ELC/childcare attendance figures

Draft action plan – presentation and discussion

Iona Colvin updated members on the work undertaken on the action plan since the Group’s meeting on 7 January.  The action plan aims to address the most pressing issues and concerns raised by the Leadership Group and others, including Chief Social Workers and Children Services Planning Strategic Leads Network, through quick, focused action over the next three months.  
Iona made the following general points on the draft plan circulated to the Group:

  • the Leadership Group members identified as leads on the draft plan were initial suggestions. Other members who wished to participate or nominate those within their organisation with more appropriate knowledge/expertise should let the Secretariat know
  • the C and F subgroups will be new time-limited groups. The emphasis is on taking immediate action to meet the current circumstances and impact of restrictions. Scottish Government policy leads will be members of each subgroup to add resource and help ensure there is no duplication or overlap with work already taking place
  • the action plan will link with CERG (Covid-19 Education Recovery Group) on family support and other issues. Iona is meeting Angela Davidson and other colleagues to discuss links to perinatal and infant mental health, CAMHS and funding to local areas for community services and covid response. The action plan will be underpinned by the data and evidence work presented to the Leadership Group
  • the Leadership Group will provide oversight and governance for the action plan and reporting processes will be as straightforward as possible. Funding issues will be considered as the workstreams develop specific actions 

In terms of individual workstreams:

  • access - making the right connections between national and local support and communicating this to families, whatever their initial point of contact, is crucial. The proposed sub-group of the CSP Strategic Leads will help to do this
  • workforce resilience - action will include national facilitation of initiatives to secure additional staff for local deployment such as students and those returning to staff registers
  • domestic abuse – Police Scotland will be added as a lead member

Members made the following points in discussion:

  • access – Members will have some information on national helplines on their websites and this will help to map out what information is already available and any gaps in coverage. 
  • commissioning - These issues are already being handled through work for the Family Support Group and it would be difficult to avoid overlap or duplication
  • feedback from children and young people – Important that the sub-groups take account of the information and feedback that children, young people and families have already provided during the pandemic
  • the action plan should encompass cross-cutting issues including child poverty, children’s rights, and support for children and young people with disabilities
  • need to be clear on engagement processes with political leaders at local and national levels in taking forward the action plan
  • communication across different sectors and multiple agencies will also need to be well handled. For example, in relation to the workstream on early years/under fives, this will encompass maternity services which are based in acute and community work which is local authority-based

Additional points from MS Teams chat:

SWS involvement in respite considerations often tied in with child's plans where social workers are lead professionals - need to look more creatively at all forms of respite which may support and is feasible within current context.

CELCIS is a partner in CHS recovery group and role with CPC.  In addition we have a key role in relation to care leavers (Kenny McGee). Happy to support further in these areas if helpful

New report by SPIRU at GCU commissioned by the SLF Group on Child Poverty that looks closely at learning from Local Responses to Child Poverty at the earlier phase of the COVID crisis, which will likely be of interest to this group's leadership overview.    


  • LG Members to contact Secretariat by Tuesday 26 January if they or their representatives are not included in any specific workstream but wish to be involved
  • Ssession on Mental Health issues will be arranged for LG meeting on 25 February
  • Police Scotland to added to domestic abuse workstream
  • members to send links to helpline information on their websites to the Secretariat
  • commissioning workstream to be removed from action plan
  • Iona to invite Shirley Laing to LG meeting on 28 Jan to discuss child poverty issues Follow-up meetings will be held with Jim Carle on support for children and young people with disabilities and Eddie Follan on engagement with COSLA
  • members to provide any additional comments on the action plan by 26 January


Jim Carle provided a draft paper from Iriss on implementing Near Me video consulting in social services. This was circulated to members prior to the meeting.  

Sam McCluskey has provided an update paper on Police Scotland’s work with partners on tackling domestic abuse. Sam also noted that funding had been obtained for child protection communications campaign and other work.  

Claire Simpson noted that the results of a survey by Who Cares? Scotland will be published shortly. Claire also noted that CYPAG had been made aware of concerns resulting from staff wearing masks in residential settings.

Elliot Jackson thanked members for raising public awareness of Children Hearings Scotland’s recruitment campaign for volunteer panel members.    


  • comments on the paper should be sent to the Secretariat before 28 January
  • paper circulated to members following the meeting
  • LG members to email LG Secretariat inbox with suggested agenda items for future meetings
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