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Improving outcomes for children, young people and families: Children’s Services Plans and strategic engagement activity review

Summary review of children’s services plans for 2020 to 2023, in line with the Children and Young Peoples (Scotland) Act 2014, statutory guidance part 3. Highlighting key strengths, areas for development and details from strategic engagement with local children’s services planning strategic leads.


11. SMART (Criterion 14)

Criterion 14 considers the format of CSPs and whether information is presented in a SMART way. To have fully satisfied this Criterion CSPPs should have met all SMART requirements:

Specific – be specific about priorities, actions, outcomes and which services are contributing

Measurable – include measurable priorities and a set of measurable indicators of progress

Achievable – have clear aims and robust governance arrangements

Relevant – include a narrative on services offered

Time-related – specify timescales for priorities and/or actions.

Five out of 30 CSPs fully satisfied this Criterion, while the remaining 25 only partially satisfied it as they needed to add further information.

CSPPs could fully meet this Criterion in future Plans by including:

  • a one-page summary of the Plan at the start of the report
  • an accessibility section with information on how different audiences can access the Plan and publishing this in different formats (website, videos, alternative languages etc.)
  • a child/ family-friendly Plan or have a version of the Plan specifically aimed at children, young people and families
  • information on timescales and leads for each strategic priority/high level action
  • measurable priorities and a set of measurable indicators used to monitor progress
  • clear and short sections, with clear headings.

Plans with many acronyms are not particularly child-friendly. A few Plans included a table with acronyms and a glossary of terms used, both useful additions. A couple of Plans included a section dedicated to children and young people or addressed directly to them. Another example of best practice was the development of an accessible version of the CSP to ensure that children and young people are aware of the key priorities driving local services and understand what actions are planned to improve support and services.

The two SMART components that were mostly unmet by CSPPs were 'time-related' and 'measurable'. All CSPs that only partially satisfied this Criterion (25 out of 30) needed to provide information on timescales for their strategic priorities, while 12 out of 30 Plans were not measurable. Other problems encountered were very long Plans, Plans addressed only to technical audiences, and Plans which were not well-structured (very long sections and/ or unclear headings). There is need for the Plans to be concise, but at the same time, rich in information with a clear narrative around the development of the CSP and services offered. Including tables that link priorities, aims, actions, performance indicators, leads and timescales could help achieve that.

Good Practice Examples

Aberdeenshire: Even though Aberdeenshire published a long Plan, it is well-structured, with clear sections and headings. It includes a glossary of terms and a table with aims, actions, performance measures, leads, timescales, SHANARRI wellbeing aspects and UNCRC articles, bringing everything together. The Plan is specific as it has specific priorities and aims; measurable as it set measurable indicators to monitor the progress for each aim/action; achievable with a clear governance structure and leads for each priority; relevant with a great narrative around the services offered; and time-related as it provided timescales for each priority.

East Renfrewshire: At the start of this Plan is a very useful and user-friendly one-page summary, including vision, values, approach, wellbeing outcomes, priorities and success measures.

Midlothian: Midlothian’s Plan is well-structured, with short sections and clear headings. It includes tables with actions, timescales, performance indicators, and leads. The Plan is specific as it has specific priorities, actions and outcomes; measurable as it set measurable indicators to monitor the progress for each high level action; achievable with a clear governance structure and leads for each priority; relevant with a narrative around the services offered; and time-related as it provided timescales for each high level action.

Orkney: The Plan is easy to read with a user-friendly format. An action plan presents clearly how the priorities are linked to aims, actions, measurable indicators, leads and timescales. The Plan is specific as it has very specific outcomes and links between priorities and actions; measurable as it set measurable indicators to monitor the progress for each high level action; achievable with a clear governance structure and leads for each high level action; relevant with a great narrative around the services offered and the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people; and time-related as it provides timescales for each high level action.

Contact

Email: C&F.StrategicEngagement@gov.scot

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