Coronavirus (COVID-19): Children and Families Collective Leadership Group minutes - 4 November 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Children and Families Collective Leadership Group (CLG) on 4 November 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Grace Vickers (Co-Chair), SOLACE

  • Peter Macleod, Care Inspectorate

  • Chris Wright, Care Inspectorate

  • Claire Burns, CELCIS

  • Jennifer Davidson, Inspiring Children’s Futures

  • Stephen Bermingham, Children’s Hearings Scotland

  • Jillian Gibson, COSLA

  • Laura Caven (part of meeting), COSLA

  • Sheila Gordon, CCPS

  • Tam Baillie, CPCS

  • Laura-Ann Currie, Education Scotland

  • Thomas Carlton, The Promise

  • Jennifer King, ADES

  • James Carle, Disabled Children and Young People Advisory Group

  • Clare McGuire, NHS NES

  • Sam Faulds, Police Scotland

  • Alison Gordon, Social Work Scotland

  • Laura Lamb, Scottish Social Services Council

  • Neil Hunter, SCRA

  • Jude Turbyne, Children in Scotland

Scottish Government attendees

  • Michael Chalmers (Co-Chair)
  • Iona Colvin
  • Joanna Macdonald
  • Mairi Macpherson
  • Bryony Revell
  • Laura Holton
  • Donna Martin
  • Diana Beveridge
  • Carolyn Wilson
  • Phillip Gillespie
  • Robert Scott
  • Tom McNamara (for item four)

Additional attendees

  • Tom McHugh (NHS National Services Scotland)
  • Chris Ridley (NHS Lothian) for the Pan-Lothian Partnership Project on Joint Chronologies (agenda item three)


  • Peter Donachie
  • Holly Ferguson

Items and actions

Welcome and note of last meeting - 7 October 2021

Michael Chalmers welcomed members to the meeting and, due to some technical issues, passed over the chairing of the meeting to Grace Vickers. There were no amendments to the note of the last meeting on 7 October.

National Care Service consultation: follow up discussion

Joanna MacDonald led a follow up session on the National Care Service consultation. This took the form of jam board exercise in which members were invited to post views on the opportunities and risks around current planning/delivery of services, potential inclusion of children’s services in the NCS and other options and issues that members wished to highlight. The report of the session is provided as an annex to this note.

Similar engagement sessions had been held with the Children’s Services Planning Strategic Leads Network and in general the views expressed were consistent with those of CLG.

Joanna invited members to suggest priorities for earlier action which could help to shape CLG’s work programme for next year. The following suggestions were made:

  • there is a continuing need for collective leadership nationally and locally to ensure better joint planning and delivery of services, improve data sharing and information handling and better use of collective resources, particular issues include providing more strategic and streamlined funding processes rather than disconnected funding packages with their own parameters and administrative requirements
  • it is essential that links between services are promoted and embedded whatever configuration of the NCS results from the consultation, the links between children and family services, education and community learning, health, justice, adult social care and related services (especially addiction services) need to be maintained and developed through Children’s Services Planning Partnerships to maximise support for families and minimise the risk of gaps in provision
  • need to develop more consistent approaches to identifying and delivering a programme of improvement activity and scaling/spreading good practices

Joint chronologies: Pan-Lothian Partnership Project

Chris Ridley and Tom McHugh provided a presentation on the Pan-Lothian Partnership Project on joint chronologies which had been included in the recently published National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland – Practice Insights

The project involved both national and local partners including NHS Lothian, Midlothian, East Lothian, West Lothian and City of Edinburgh local authorities, NHS NSS, Care Inspectorate, Police Scotland and Scottish Government.

The project’s aim was to produce a more effective and scalable solution to a finding by the Care Inspectorate that “while good progress is being achieved around single chronologies, across most areas inspected, services had made slow progress in implementing integrated chronologies’

The joint chronologies developed by the partnership supports a multi-agency approach to assessment and planning by developing a picture of significant events in a child, young person or adult’s life that help identify need and risk and potential accumulating patterns of concern. Importantly this supported a consistent format within underpinning single agency chronologies, and developed practice to ensure key events from these informed the joint chronology.

Chris and Tom highlighted the following key features of the development work:

  • a shared space through a sharepoint site and Knowledge Hub for multi-agency working to test ideas, develop proof of concept and interim learning solutions, this helped to co-ordinate work across different agencies and enabled issues to be identified and resolved more quickly and effectively
  • consistent language and messaging in communications toolkits and activities
  • a common approach to training staff through standardised methods and practices including a LearnPro Module
  • clear mapping out of data flows and other information handling issues
  • adopting the Agile methodology in project management which enabled greater flexibility and responsiveness to change and complexity in working across agencies
  • a strong emphasis on testing and evaluation across the development work, this included advice and feedback from critical friends such as Fife Council and the Care Inspectorate

The project had received overwhelming endorsement and support from Scottish Government, SOLACE, COSLA and other key stakeholders and networks. The next steps included implementing the joint chronologies across the Pan-Lothian Partnership and considering scaling-up the project further across Scotland. NHS NSS’s role in providing and managing digital platforms at regional and national levels, will help to inform a technical solution for this work. The project includes Adult Services which supports more opportunities for greater collaborations. CLG members were invited to join the project’s Knowledge Hub.

Members welcomed the work that had been achieved on the project. Sharing the work with the GIRFEC Leads stakeholder group and the CSP Strategic Leads Network would be helpful and they should also be invited to join the Knowledge Hub.

Members are invited to contact Tom McHugh at if they wish to join the Knowledge Hub for the project.

Impact on children of parents being in prison and support for young people who offend

Joanna MacDonald and Fiona Dyer provided an update on children affected by imprisonment covering two main issues - the impact on children of parents being in prison and support for children and young people in custody. Joanna told members that over 20,000 children and young people were affected by their parents being in prison. The adverse impact of this situation had increased during the pandemic. Meeting the needs of this group of children, young people and families will require better joint working across a range of policies including Keeping the Promise, embedding UNCRC, implementing the Barnahus model and raising the age of criminal responsibility. Better supporting those within and leaving the care system is also a crucial area of work. A paper is being prepared on these issues and will be brought to CLG in January.

Fiona discussed the situation of children and young people in custody. Definitions of whether those aged 16 to 18 were regarded as children or young people varied under different legislation. This is creating confusion and unnecessary barriers to support. A decisive move away from age-focused approaches and providing needs-based support is required. There are currently around 14 under-18 year olds in Young Offender Institutions (YOI). It is particularly concerning that there are children aged under-16 in Polmont YOI. The Health and Wellbeing Pre-Inspection Survey of under-18 year olds in custody had recently been published and contained extremely troubling findings. Many had experienced mental distress and nearly half had contemplated suicide. Two-thirds had daily time out from their cells of two hours or less. There were concerns that this and other aspects of their treatment breached UNCRC requirements as it would be constituted as torture as defined by the UNCRC.

Fiona highlighted the need for greater support for care-experienced young people and those who had been the victims of people trafficking. Many of these had experienced homelessness and been unable to access support. Fiona suggested that immediate steps needed to be taken to provide better support. There also needed to be legislative changes to Section 51 of the Criminal Justice Scotland Act 2003 regarding the physical punishment of children.

Members agreed on the need for urgent action. Scottish Government officials will make contact with the Scottish Prison Service to urgently review the cases of those in custody to identify the factors involved in their imprisonment and what improvements can be made. A short-life group will be established to help take forward this work. One potential approach is to implement a triage system to help identify at an earlier stage the support that needs to be provided and most appropriate youth justice response. This should be based on the GIRFEC National Practice Model to gather information, develop the assessment of wellbeing and co-ordinate support to the child, young person and their family through the Child’s Plan, and needs to be considered as part of the recommendations for improvement. In relation to amendments to Section 51, there may be opportunities to undertake work on this issue in the first quarter of 2022 as part of the Children’s Care and Justice Bill.

Additional points from MS Teams chat

As part of earlier review work done by HMIP after recent deaths in custody at Polmont a comprehensive review was undertaken of key decision points for young people and the paucity of information sharing and missed opportunities to take an alternative approach to (a) arrest (b) detention (c) reporting (d) decision making (e) judicial consideration (f) alternatives to remand/imprisonment. It was deemed out of the scope to the HMIPS review but needs to be picked up again - every stage of the process needs to share info to make alternative decisions to the ones we make for 16 to 17 year olds in particular.

We also have the review of continuing care coming through in the next couple of months and perhaps have a read across.

Don't limit consideration to 16 to 17 year olds - appreciate levers are stronger for this group but we need also to look at our 18 to 19 year olds, many with care experience who are sentenced to custody often for offences committed pre-18 and for whom we should also be creating other options. Link to report - Youth justice: Whole system approach to young offending

It would be helpful to revisit previous national work on Whole Systems Approach to youth justice and early and effective intervention. 

CLG revised remit

Grace Vickers invited members to provide initial suggestions for CLG’s work programme for 2022-23 covering immediate, medium and longer term priorities. Members suggested that supporting transitions developing better links with adult services particularly in relation to alcohol and drug addictions and promoting improvement work (including an agreed programme of activity related to Children’s Services Planning) should be key areas of activity. Members were invited to consider the following questions in advance of the discussion at CLG’s next meeting on 9 December:

  • building on the discussions at the deep dive session on the National Care Service and earlier in this meeting, what are the priority issues that members would wish to include in the Action Plan for 2022-23?
  • what are the outstanding medium term issues from CLG’s 2020 action plan that need to be included as priorities for 2022/23? these included improving children, young people and families’ mental health and wellbeing, greater support for early years and under-fives, better support for care leavers)

How can CLG best support the priorities in the Covid Recovery Strategy on the wellbeing of children and young people and vision of making progress towards a wellbeing economy and accelerating inclusive person-centred public services?

AOB and close

Donna Martin noted that the refresh of policy, statutory and practice guidance for the GIRFEC workforce, materials co-produced by professionals and practitioners are now open for consultation.

Link to consultation - Assessment of Wellbeing (GIRFEC) - Scottish Government - Citizen Space

  • the public consultation on the Statutory Guidance for Assessment of Wellbeing under Part 18 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 will close on 4 February 2022

  • The stakeholder focused consultation on all other materials (including the GIRFEC Policy Statement, Practice Guidance on The role of the named person, The role of the lead professional, Using the National Practice Model, Information Sharing and an Information Sharing Charter for agencies and organisations to share with children and families) will be open until 10 December 2021

Michael Chalmers informed members that Laura Caven will be the new Chief Officer in CoSLA’s Children and Young People team and CLG member following Eddie Follan’s move to a new post within CoSLA. 

Carrie Lindsay, new Co-Chair of the Children’s Services Planning Strategic Leads Network will also be joining CLG. This will assist in linking up the work of the groups. 

Collective Leadership Group - 4 November 2021

Joanna MacDonald, Deputy Chief Social Work Advisor, gave a presentation on considerations as to the future shape and direction of the NCS.

CLG jamboard: summary of key themes

The following is a summary of points shared as part of the interactive Jam Board session at the above CLG meeting. Below are a list of bullet points summarising the overall themes which emerged from the discussion and post-it note comments under each of the Jam Board topics. 

Participants were asked to consider three areas:

  • opportunities/risks in the current delivery context (and children’s services are not included in the NCS)
  • opportunities/risks (if children’s services are included in the NCS)
  • other thoughts/issues/ participants wished to highlight

Jamboard one: current planning/delivery context


  • flexibility of local arrangements including opportunities for local area partnerships to respond to more individualised needs
  • maintain focus on existing change programmes - work underway to Keep The Promise is already driving culture, practice and system change
  • integrated education and social work approach to services for children


  • variability of funding provision for children’s services in terms of prioritisation and sustainability
  • lack of consistency in service provision across different areas including GIRFEC implementation
  • risks over links with other services will vary depending on current arrangements – either dislocation from education services or for those which have children’s services delegated with integrated health and social work approaches

Jamboard two: NCS potential inclusion of children’s services


  • greater opportunities for whole family approaches including links with adult services dealing with mental health and addiction
  • more national training and development opportunities for the workforce
  • a more co-ordinated approach to improvement


  • transition from children’s services, including in relation to housing and employability, does not improve
  • lack of evidence for the proposal including whether children and families experience better outcomes when children’s services are the responsibility of an integration authority rather than a local authority
  • focus on complicated structural change risks overwhelming the system and detracting from practice improvement

Jamboard three: other options/issues to highlight


  • consider further integration of children’s services at local level
  • strengthen role of CSPs in planning, commissioning and local resource allocation as there will otherwise remain structural barriers wherever children’s services are placed
  • need for national quality standards to more clearly set out expectations of all partners in children’s service planning


  • structural change alone will not necessarily improve outcomes, need for focus on leadership, cultural/behavioural approaches
  • focus on adult services will overwhelm children and young people agenda
  • risk of rushing to conclusions – need for a separate review of children’s services and a resourced and robust national plan of action for improvements
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