Early Learning and Childcare Joint Delivery Board minutes: June 2019

Minutes of the meeting of the ELC Joint Delivery Board, held on 25 June 2019.

Attendees and apologies


  • Maree Todd MSP, Minister for CYP (Co-Chair)
  • Cllr Alison Evison, COSLA President
  • Alison Cumming, Deputy Director of ELC Programme
  • Chris Dunne, SG, Head of Programme Assurance
  • Laura Friel, Directors of Finance
  • Joe Griffin, SG, Director of ELC Programme (SRO)
  • Peter Macleod, Care Inspectorate
  • Simon Mair, SG, Head of Delivery Assurance

Additional attendees:

  • Gemma Boggs, Scottish Futures Trust
  • Laura Caven, COSLA Policy Officer (for Nicola Dickie)
  • Adam Hall, Improvement Service
  • Matthew Sweeney, COSLA Policy Officer CYP
  • Sarah Duncan (Secretariat)


  • Tricia Meldrum, Audit Scotland
  • Yoshiko Gibo, Audit Scotland


  • Roy Brannen, Non-Executive Member
  • Angela Leitch, SOLACE
  • Laura Mason, ADES
  • Councillor Stephen McCabe, COSLA Spokesperson for CYP
  • Nicola Dickie, COSLA Policy Officer for CYP

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Chair welcomed members and introductions were made. Thanks were noted to Wallyford Primary School for providing a tour of their setting and the meeting venue.

Review minutes and open actions from previous meetings

The minutes of the meeting held on 6 February were approved. It was confirmed that Action 03/01 for Improvement Service to provide a high level summary of key messages in future reports could now be closed. There were no further open actions.

Members were invited to highlight any items they wished to raise under AOB so that they could be accommodated within the timings of the meeting. Joe Griffin noted that officials had agreed to review the schedule of future meetings.

Delivery assurance

ELC delivery progress

Simon Mair highlighted the volume of work that had taken place in recent weeks to analyse the significant amount of data submitted by local authorities to SG, Improvement Service and SFT. He introduced Adam Hall who provided an overview of Paper 04/03. The following key messages were noted:

  • local authorities had provided data on progress in the period up to 30 April and anticipated progress by August 2019 ('one year to go').  It was noted that an updated version of the report was tabled to reflect late submissions received after papers had been issued
  • nationally progress was in line with forecasts, however there were significant local variations
  • projections for one year to go in August indicate a step change in uptake, capacity and workforce to reflect plans for increased phasing
  • narrative submitted with workforce data highlights recent recruitment success that missed the data cut off point due to planned start dates, however challenges remained in recruiting senior managers and Gaelic speakers
  • next stage was to continue to assure the data and identify patterns to inform development of support
  • the next data period is 1 May to 30 September and returns are due to be submitted by 11 November, alongside updated forecasts and trajectories in line with evolving implementation plans

Key points of discussion:

  • Ms Todd welcomed the improved report format and suggested that more regular returns may be helpful in allowing the Board to assure delivery remained on track
  • Cllr Evison noted that where a clear purpose was agreed and value would be added local authorities could be asked for data at additional points as long as the administrative burden was kept minimal
  • SRO advised that officials’ proposed a light touch data collection on progress be requested in August to support One Year to Go messaging and assess implementation in 2020.  This would allow any local or national challenges to be identified early and support put in place as required
  • it was agreed that where appropriate these additional data collections should be carried out through planned Delivery Assurance engagement to minimise the burden on authorities

Action 04/01: Delivery Assurance to coordinate collection of data to demonstrate progress up to August.

Scottish Futures Trust update

Simon Mair introduced Gemma Boggs who provided an overview of progress on capital programmes, noting the following key messages:

  • SFT had been tasked with closing the information gap on capital programmes and accelerating delivery projections to reduce the number of projects back ended for delivery in summer 2020. Progress had been made in both areas with the information gap largely reduced and some progress made in project timelines, however removing the spikes in delivery at August 2019 and August 2020 was not realistic
  • it was noted that planning cycles followed academic years and summer holiday periods as progress could be accelerated while buildings are empty
  • contingency planning was variable across the country with some authorities requiring support to understand the alternatives available if projects are delayed or no longer viable.  Progress is expected in the next quarter and will be reported to the next meeting
  • tender returns would be received over the summer period which would inform further assessment of readiness and progress with the issues around registering outdoor space was also expected

Key points of discussion:

  • Cllr Evison highlighted the need to reflect rural practicalities and timing of work making use of school holiday periods. It was also noted that there was a danger in devaluing outdoor provision if it is promoted as a contingency for delayed capital projects rather as a positive option in its own right
  • it was noted that Scotland Excel and other similar frameworks were being used to speed up procurement processes where appropriate
  • Ms Todd noted that exiting the EU without a deal could have a significant impact on programmes and asked for confirmation that planning issues were not delaying projects.  It was confirmed that registration challenges were a more significant issue than planning decisions
  • Care Inspectorate confirmed that the consistency issues surrounding registration of outdoor space were being investigated and a solution was being sought in partnership with SG to ensure capacity and service ambitions can be realised
  • Ms Todd reaffirmed her belief that the expansion was a key opportunity to reset the focus on the benefits of outdoor learning and play and this should not be inhibited by ongoing registration issues
  • Cllr Evison noted that communications would be key to promotion of outdoor learning as she did not think the message was not yet fully understood by parents
Delivery assurance

Simon Mair provided an overview of Paper 04/04 and noted the following key messages:

  • there was significant variability in approaches to the expansion and planning for implementation and confidence levels in successful delivery being achieved locally were varied
  • examples of innovative practice had been seen however there were several areas where support would be beneficial to support the capacity of local teams
  • recommendations for next steps were to commission a joint group to review in depth readiness and agree support that should be established with a report on these actions to be provided to the next meeting

Key points of discussion:

  • Cllr Evison highlighted that any support should be provided to local authorities in partnership rather as targeted as an intervention.  It was also noted that authorities started from different places therefore progress was naturally going to be varied  
  • it was agreed that a partnership between SG and COSLA to determine appropriate support to offer would be helpful. It was agreed that support be framed as a critical friend providing peer to peer support through conversation and a position of trust
  • Ms Todd recognised the need for local decision making and highlighted the shared vision of the programme from the outset and the strong relationships that had been formed between SG, COSLA and local authorities
  • the Board approved the recommendations on the basis that a partnership approach was taken to providing support on request

Action 04/02:  Delivery Assurance to coordinate the formation of a joint group to review local authority readiness as proposed in the Delivery Assurance Paper.

Action 04/03:  Scottish Government and COSLA to report at the next meeting on the joint group’s findings.

ELC Programme level risk profile  

Chris Dunne provided a summary of Papers 04/05 and 04/06, noting the following key points:

  • programme risks were expressed in a profile format which allowed more detail to be provided on the mitigation in place and planned actions being tracked
  • nine individual national project risk registers sat below the programme register and the profile was a living document therefore the same risks will not always be reported
  • two risks were scored as Red, relating to the Infrastructure Project and Management Information System (MIS) Project
  • officials had taken an action to consider how the profile might be expanded to include local authority owned risks and planned actions

Key points of discussion:

  • Ms Todd highlighted that the programme register should reflect mitigation activity taking place across the country
  • COSLA suggested that authority risks could be expressed thematically to reflect locally activity without duplicating local registers
  • officials suggested that quality issues may need to be reflected in a risk and that more information on the MIS risk would be provided at the next meeting
  • Cllr Evison agreed that an update on the status of the MIS project would be welcome at the next meeting and any patterns coming out of local data should be reflected in the programme risk profile

Action 04/04:  Delivery Assurance group have a role in identifying how to reflect local authority owned risks and actions in the programme risk profile.

Local authority provider rates  

Alison Cumming advised members that the Finance Working Group had asked for Board approval of data being published in relation to the rates being paid to partner providers.  The proposed report was based on returns from local authorities on support provided to partner providers, and had been subject to review by members of the Finance Working Group. There had been increased public and parliamentary interest in funding rates and the Education & Skills Committee had also requested information. Officials believed that publication of the information in the proposed format provided helpful context alongside the data to demonstrate the range of support being provided under partnership arrangements. Members were asked to consider the publication of the report provided within Paper 04/07.

The Board approved publication of the report.

Advisory forum output 

ELC partnership forum 

Alison Cumming provided an overview of the meetings held on 23 April and 18 June, noting the following key messages:

  • more meaningful partnership arrangements were evident across the country through the forum and engagements with individual authorities
  • providers had reported real engagement taking place and improvements had been made in the majority of areas where concerns had previously been raised.  This was evident through more positive social media activity and reduced correspondence being received by political leaders and officials
  • The West Partnership had established a local forum to further develop collaborative working and may lead to similar fora being established in the other Regional Improvement Collaborative areas
ELC strategic forum

Alison Cumming provided an overview of the meetings held on 6 March and 4 June, noting the following key messages:

  • agendas had focussed on family wellbeing and parental communications and discussions had been productive and constructive
  • the forum purpose and format continued to be developed to ensure the collective experience of the sector was being utilised and maximum value achieved
  • membership was being refreshed to ensure connections with other policy areas were being made where appropriate

Items for discussion escalated from ELC Joint Delivery Board [O]

SRO proposed the following actions:

  • planned meeting dates be rescheduled to allow more time for data to be analysed.  It was noted that meeting schedule should take account of potential Parliamentary commitments to avoid late changes
  • agenda items for the next meeting should include SFT data on local authority capital programme contingency planning and updated information on the MIS Project
  • Risk Profile be developed to reflect local activities

The Board agreed to the proposed actions.

  • Action 04/05:  Secretariat to review future meeting dates.
  • Action 04/06:  Secretariat to include local authority contingency planning and MIS Project as agenda items for the next meeting.
  • Action 04/07:  Risk Profile to be developed to reflect local activities.

Any other business

Ms Todd highlighted the work taking place in Settings of Innovation and how this work demonstrates the impact that the policy is making to children and their families.

Members noted that close contact was taking place between SG and COSLA communication teams to plan activities for One Year To Go in August. It was expected that the profile of the policy would be high in Parliament and locally therefore a joint meeting had also been held with local communications teams to coordinate messaging.


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