Coronavirus (COVID-19): Children and Families Collective Leadership Group minutes - 8 April 2021

Minutes for the meeting of the group on 8 April 2021.

Attendees and apologies

Chair: Michael Chalmers


  • Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES) - apologies from Jennifer King
  • Care Inspectorate - Peter Macleod, 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) - Sheila Gordon 
  • COSLA - Jillian Gibson, Jillian Ingram, apologies from Eddie Follan
  • Disabled Children and Young People Advisory Group (DCYPAG) - Jim Carle 
  • Education Scotland - apologies from Laura-Ann Currie
  • The Promise  - apologies from Fiona Duncan
  • Inspiring Children’s Futures, University of Strathclyde - apologies from Jennifer Davidson 
  • NHS Chief Executives - apologies from Angela Wallace 
  • NHS NES - apologies from Karen Wilson
  • Scottish Ambulance Service - apologies from Jayne Scaife
  • Police Scotland - Martin Maclean, apologies from Sam McCluskey
  • Public Health Scotland - apologies from Debby Wason
  • Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA) - Neil Hunter
  • SOLACE - Margo Williamson
  • Social Work Scotland - Alison Gordon
  • Scottish Social Services Council - Laura Lamb
  • Scottish Youth Parliament - Liam Fowley

Scottish Government:

  • Iona Colvin
  • Joanna MacDonald
  • Bill Scott-Watson
  • Mairi Macpherson
  • Wendy Mitchell
  • Laura Holton
  • Byrony Revell
  • Carolyn Younie
  • Jenny Hamilton, GIRFEC and Strategy Unit, Directorate for Children and Families

Leadership Group Secretariat:

  • Peter Donachie
  • Claire Scott
  • Chris Lindores

Items and actions

Welcome and note of last meeting (25 March 2021)

Michael Chalmers welcomed members to the meeting and introduced Jillian Gibson who has joined COSLA’s Children and Young People team leading on The Promise and Joanna MacDonald as Deputy Chief Social Work Advisor in Scottish Government.

There were no amendments to the note of the last meeting on 25 March.

Improving outcomes: strategic narrative  (paper 26/1)

Jenny Hamilton and Bryony Revell presented the discussion paper “Transforming Outcomes for Children, Young People and Families in Scotland.” This strategic narrative pulls together key drivers, and sets out how we will work together across Scotland using a coherent strategic framework and holistic approach to respecting children’s rights, improving wellbeing, and realising the ambition of Scotland being the best place for children and young people to grow up. The discussion paper had been circulated to CLG members.  

Jenny described how UNCRC Incorporation, GIRFEC, The Promise, recovery and renewal from Covid-19 and other policies/initiatives are mutually reinforcing. The paper sets out the context for collective action, and highlights the importance of next steps deepening the shift towards prevention and early intervention in order to improve outcomes for children through holistic family support from pre-birth onwards. Jenny explained that this informs a shared conversation about what is required in order to  ensure a more collaborative and unified approach amongst national and local partners working together across different sectors. 

Central elements in these next steps include:

  • strengthening GIRFEC – there is clear evidence that GIRFEC values and using the national practice model results in improved outcomes for children and families. However, implementation of GIRFEC practice is variable at present. Co-production of refreshed GIRFEC practice materials together with support for implementation and improvement activity, will help scale-up and spread good practice, and promote more consistent experiences for children and their families
  • Children’s Services Planning (CSP) – Strengthening the capacity and effectiveness of Scotland’s Children’s Services Planning partnerships is understood as a key mechanism though which partners from statutory, funded and Third Sector organisations work together to overcome silos, and plan, develop and deliver holistic, joined up support to children, young people and families. The role of the CSP Strategic Leads Network provides opportunities to strengthen multi-agency connection at the national level, support professional dialogue, work collaboratively to overcome barriers to progress, and build further on good practice/what works. The importance of adult services is recognised as essential within this whole systems approach to improving outcomes
  • the Promise Plan and support for commencement of UNCRC – sets out a clear approach to holding Scotland accountable for implementing the changes required for children and families, reducing unnecessary complexity and bureaucracy across system(s) and putting people at the centre
  • developing the Workforce is another area of focus. By better aligning policies, initiatives and cross-sector key messaging, promoting rights/relationships-based practice which is  trauma-informed, and ensuring future availability of a resilient, competent and confident workforce over the years ahead will make sure Scotland has the right people in the right place to provide support to children and their families
  • development of an Outcomes Framework for Children, Young People and Families 

Jenny acknowledged that there are significant challenges ahead, but recognised this is a watershed opportunity to transform outcomes for all children and families in Scotland. How we work together to deliver and support progress of those next steps, is as critical to their success as the changes themselves.  

Bryony discussed the proposed approach to development of an Outcomes Framework for children, young people and families which more clearly demonstrates whole system impact on children’s wellbeing. This builds on work begun pre-Covid.  Using ‘wellbeing’ as a well-understood and consistent framework, the approach uses 8 intermediate wellbeing outcomes linked to SHANARRI. These builds on the foundation of UNCRC and align to different aspects of the National Performance Framework beyond the orange ‘petal’ “we grow up loved safe and respected”. It uses the GIRFEC My World Triangle to support more holistic understanding of the impact on children’s wellbeing by not only services, supports and policy areas directly relating to children and young people (such as health visiting or schools) but also of those which impact on the lives of parents/carers and families (including support to adults), and by factors at a wider community/societal level (ie housing, social security, inclusive communities etc). These outcomes provide Scotland with a shared and consistent set of goals for children, young people and families.

Taking a staged approach, a suite of underpinning indicators will be developed over time, including both change measures and wellbeing data. This draws on a range of existing qualitative and quantitative work and will be developed working closely with The Promise Scotland. It also builds on recent developments in meaningful use of data, such as creation of the national child protection data-set, vulnerable children data considered by the Collective Leadership Group, learning from the data deep dive underway with a number of partnerships, and future information gathered through the national wellbeing census. National review of Children’s Services Plans will inform co-development of a core general wellbeing data-set, with a wide range of groups  supporting development of measures which relate to children and families with particular types of need (whether that’s mental health, disability, youth justice).  The voices and lived experiences of children and families remain crucial in the development of meaningful indicators of progress and agreeing how Scotland best demonstrates how outcomes are being improved in a number of different ways. 

Jenny invited members to consider two discussion questions:

  • what are members thoughts on our readiness for change of this scale?  (what should this include?)
  • any views on development of the Outcomes Framework and its approach?

Members supported the approach being taken and made the following points in discussion:

  • aligning and streamlining legislative requirements, policies and initiatives will be welcomed across the workforce
  • there are currently challenges in providing holistic support to children and young people through universal services. Staff may tend to identify themselves with their specific roles in health, social work, education or other sectors rather than as professional staff working together across services for children and their families
  • we need to promote better collaboration and cross-sector work and consider opportunities to build further on the role of specific initiatives/networks, such as Regional Improvement Collaboratives. While focussed on raising attainment and the National improvement Framework, this is only possible when taking full account of improving wellbeing in its widest sense, and links directly to Children’s Services Planning
  • workforce planning needs to be improved, with a broader focus than staff in children’s services of health and education. As part of the Leadership Group’s action plan, a proposal is being developed for an intermediate to longer term workforce planning and resilience group with an aim of providing an integrated approach to development of the workforce for the Children and Families. This includes the important role of the adult services workforce which impacts on outcomes for children and young people as part of the Team Around the Child providing support to families through services to adults who are parents/carers, and in supporting positive transitions between Children/Adults services
  • there is great potential for better aligning skills and resources, including creating cross-sector knowledge and skills frameworks; for example in relation to early learning and childcare. Scottish Government has advertised a shared post with NHS NES to develop a strategic approach to promoting trauma-informed practice across the Children and Families workforce which will also consider  key messages on UNCRC and GIRFEC
  • it is important to clarify responsibilities for ensuring accountability and delivering on the vision. This covers both “hard” accountability such as compliance with UNCRC and “soft” accountability through review of data and intelligence, and other work by the Leadership Group. This could be achieved by mapping accountability arrangements against indicators developed for the outcomes framework
  • work is underway with Health Board Chief Executives in developing an accountability framework which offers opportunities to link different areas of work and provide more guidance. We also have to take account of the Feeley Review which highlights the need to empower frontline staff to help address the implementation gap in improving outcomes. There are opportunities for wider discussions with Directors of Finance and Housing.
  • there is a risk of a blurred line between welfare and wellbeing. This could be addressed by emphasising that wellbeing is a framework which encompasses ‘healthy’ and ‘safe’ 
  • there remains a lack of clarity in certain aspects of GIRFEC practice. The pause in refresh work during the pandemic has contributed to uncertainty. Michael Chalmers highlighted the ongoing commitment to GIRFEC and its strong links with other policies. For example, Professor Jane Aldgate’s paper showed the interconnectedness between GIRFEC and UNCRC. Jenny Hamilton noted that GIRFEC stakeholder group met recently, and working groups will restart co-production of practice support materials over the next few months
  • the role of the Collective Leadership Group was recognised in having a key locus in assisting progress in this range of work, through maintaining a focus on how and what  can be done to help make things happen. Suggestions included mapping out core competencies, clarity of governance and accountability arrangements, and setting timescales
  • Michael Chalmers thanked members for their positive responses and views on next steps. The team is undertaking planning work together with colleagues across DCAF and wider Scottish Government, The Promise and a range of partners, organisations and stakeholder networks. This will enable incoming Ministers to receive early advice on the proposed direction of travel. Further discussions will be arranged with Leadership Group

Additional points from MS Teams chat:

Comment - Perhaps we need to call up again the work that was done in 2019 on Children’s Services Planning, which touched on and I think progressed the understanding of the relationship between central and local government, relationship between Ministers and the NHS, the collective commitment and mutual accountabilities in partnership at local and national level, between statutory and 3rd sector etc.

Response - We are currently undertaking the 2nd review of CSP's, building on that previous review undertaken in 2019, as partnerships have now developed/delivered their 2nd plans under Pt 3 legislation. This brings opportunities to think about how we strengthen the children's services planning approach (with adult services vital role within that), and identify where we can work collaboratively and take concrete action to overcome some of the barriers identified.

Comment - There may be some learning to contribute to the implementation of the paper from the partnerships that participated in the 'Realigning Children's Services' programme.

Response - Absolutely, RCS learning firmly on our radar.

Additional written comments from ADES:

Taking account of the outcomes work which ASLIG and ADES are in the process of developing for additional support needs can contribute to a wider outcomes framework
The CPC Scotland sub-group is working on a Neglect framework which is also looking at measures and this would tie in with the wider framework.

Stock-take of progress on action plan (paper 26/2) 

Iona Colvin gave the following overview of progress on the Leadership Group’s action plan:

  • access to services – A significant amount of work has been undertaken to assist families to access services in an easier, more straightforward way. The paper provides a summary of progress and a further report will be sent to Leadership Group
  • child protection awareness – This workstream has been completed. Leadership Group received updates at previous meetings of the complementary campaigns being run by Scottish Government, Police Scotland and CPC Scotland
  • workforce resilience – There has been positive work at national and local level, including recruitment initiatives by SSSC, to strengthen the workforce during the pandemic. As discussed earlier in the meeting, a proposal is being developed for a workforce planning and resilience group. This will be brought to Leadership Group before the end of April
  • domestic abuse – Leadership Group received an update at the last meeting. A number of actions will be progressed before the end of April but some issues such as funding provision will need to be raised with incoming Ministers after the election
  • respite care  - A range of guidance and other support has been provided during a time of great difficulty for families
  • early years – Good links are being developed with health visitors and other staff to support immediate health and wellbeing needs. This has been assisted through Michael Chalmers and Angela Wallace’s engagement with Nurse Directors and other senior leaders within health boards
  • care leavers – This workstream has helped to raise awareness of corporate parenting responsibilities. However, more work is needed given the worrying recent deaths of care leavers
  • children’s hearings system – The system has been challenged by lockdown and is continuing to run with an adapted delivery model. There has been a very successful recruitment campaign for panel members
  • substance misuse and mental health interface with adult services - Work has been taken forward by Neil Hunter on a whole family approach within drug services
  • involvement and feedback from children and young people – focus groups have been held over February and March with Leadership Group given the opportunity to participate

Iona noted that the child protection deep dive work being led by colleagues in CELSIS, Scottish Government analysts and local authorities is going very well. A draft report will be available within the next couple of weeks. 


  • report on access to services to be provided to CLG on 22 April
  • proposed remit for workforce resilience group to be provided to CLG on 22 April. Update – now scheduled for 6 May meeting
  • summary of focus groups to be provided to CLG on 22 April
  • child protection deep dive work to be discussed at CLG on 22 April.  Update – now scheduled for 6 May meeting

Preparations for learning event

Claire Burns outlined plans being developed by CELSIS and CYPIC for the Learning Event on 20 May. The Learning Event will involve Leadership Group and Strategic Leads. The main aims will be to reflect on the learning, good practice and innovations developed in response to the pandemic through the action plan, winter support package and deep dive work with local authorities; consider how best to lock in the gains; and scale up and spread improvements that have been made.

The event will also provide an opportunity to discuss the roles of Leadership Group and the Strategic Leads Network in the renewal and recovery phase following the pandemic.


  • learning event will run on 20 May from 1.30 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. (with comfort break). Invitations will be sent to CLG members w/b 12 April

AOB and close

Martin Maclean on behalf of Sam McCluskey suggested that Leadership Group discuss how to improve information sharing amongst Police Scotland and other services. Michael Chalmers proposed that this should be part of a wider discussion on how services can collectively prepare for and support children, young people and families coming out of lockdown.  

Michael Chalmers also suggested Leadership Group discuss at a future meeting how the Attainment Challenge can support wider wellbeing outcomes and Children’s Services Planning. 


  • secretariat to schedule these items for discussion at future meetings
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