- 5 Jul 2021
Attendees and apologies
- Scottish Government (SG) Learning Directorate (Chair)
- SG Armed Forces & Veterans Group (AFVG)
- Education Scotland (ES)
- MOD Armed Forces Families and Safeguarding (AFFS)
- ADES Adviser
- ADES National Transitions Officer (NTO)
- Royal Navy (RN)
- Royal Caledonian Education Trust (RCET)
- Head teacher representative
- RAF representatives
- COSLA representatives
Items and actions
Attendance and Apologies
The Group discussed safeguarding procedures, in particular in relation to risks during cross-border transition, different systems and transfer of records that can lead to gaps. Recent cases had prompted some SAFESG discussion, and clarity around this. It was acknowledged that whilst it is not for this group to solve safeguarding problems, it is beneficial to discuss perceived risks so they can be raised to relevant groups. Key discussion points include:
- acknowledgement that risks on transition are relevant to all children and not just Armed Forces
- SG policy on safeguarding is currently being updated and this presents an opportunity to talk to key people and share experiences during the refresh of the current guidance
- safeguarding training is provided for MOD personnel and set at different levels depending on roles, with an emphasis for all on raising awareness and signposting
- all agreed that it would be helpful to have a clear message on safeguarding that can be conveyed to multiple platforms
- the importance of registering with schools was highlighted. Not all parents register and are in a position to inform their school that they are an Armed Forces family
- when transferring in to Scotland there is often a delay in the transfer of paper records
- it was acknowledged that universal electronic records for children on Child Protection registers would enable a smooth transition however this does not currently exist cross-border
The Chair agreed to collate the discussion points and added that this was an area of focus for all. This will also remain as a standing agenda item for SAFESG meetings. The Secretary will add safeguarding as a standing agenda item.
It was agreed that a further discussion will take place between this Group and MOD personnel responsible for notifying and supporting safeguarding issues with a view to enhancing current communication methods and sharing good practice. The Secretary will arrange a meeting time and date.
Standing agenda items
Additional support for learning – action plan progress
The incorporation of UNCRC legislation had been discussed and will have a big impact on ASL. Group progress has been made on modifying Child Support Plans and the safeguarding points discussed will be fed in to the process. A framework group meeting will take place in a few weeks’ time – anyone wishing to feed in to the process is to let the Chair know.
Discussed earlier in the meeting. Now will be a standing agenda item.
Living in our shoes report update
No significant points to update. A UK-wide response was published in March and there will be 6 monthly updates, the next being due in September. Ahead of the next review AFVG will seek updates from a range of stakeholders, including the SAFESG. Implementation of the recommendations will be driven by the MOD Families Strategy. A very early first draft has been seen by AFVG – this includes 8 workstreams (including children’s education). The Strategy is a 10- year document and the children’s education section includes 8/9 priorities with targets of short/medium and long term. A revised version of the Strategy will be shared in the next couple of weeks for comment, this is expected to be finalised by end of July and published in August/September.
Collection and use of data
Further data collection is planned for later this year. The question template is being discussed with a range of key stakeholders and will be agreed by ADES. The collection of Early Years data will depend on the availability of the latest SEEMiS upgrade. Data on children with ASN, and special schools will, as before, be incorporated. It is anticipated that a range of high quality data will be gathered which will increase utility and access. RCET and NTO will discuss the question set and SEEMiS data.
A number of requests for the data collected in 2019 have been received and each has to be considered separately to ensure appropriate use of the data.
The NTO is working on a pilot project with Skills Development Scotland to improve outcomes for Armed Forces children.
The NTO is in discussion with North Lanarkshire Council regarding the SHANNARI app and to explore an app for Armed Forces families, and a further meeting will take place. Discussions are developing with Glasgow council on the wellbeing profile being used by different LAs, and how it can be used to respond to mobile families.
Action: RCET and NTO
Scottish Government discussions are taking place around data collection for Armed Forces children and a paper is being prepared. England already collects data and Wales is starting work in this area. The Chair will keep the Group updated on progress.
The Chair will seek an update on the Scottish Government wellbeing survey.
Updates from Group members
Currently recruiting for a Children and Families Services Manager, Wellbeing Worker and Participation Worker. Work is ongoing on the Your Mind Matters digital platform and one to one and group support will be provided within restrictions. Work around mental health and wellbeing continues. The RCET re-branding will be unveiled next month. A significant website upgrade is ongoing and may be able to host the Your Mind Matters programme. As part of the literature review RCET is hosting a webinar in September and is looking for partners to review. Creative Forces days are currently taking place digitally. An on-line conference focussing on trauma and trauma informed practice will take place on 3 November. RCET has received funding for a board game and comic that will be available to all schools in Scotland with Armed Forces children. A new apprenticeship fund opens next month. Family support and crisis grants are available. RCET is working on their new Strategic Plan which will include a review of their education work.
The SCiP Alliance Board is moving to a more holistic approach and is looking to develop new governance structures, how to contribute in Scotland and would like to explore ways to support the SAFESG.
The Minister responsible for Service families’ issues is now Keith Brown the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Veterans vice Graham Dey, who was previously the Minister for Parliamentary Business and Veterans.
The Naval base continues with normal routine business, including supporting the resettlement of personnel. The base has participated in a Barclays Veterans programme with Naval Families Federation focussing on employment support. The Future Accommodation Model continues to roll out in the local community.
Nothing significant to report.
Continuing to support the NTO on data collection work. A recent meeting with Lowland RFCA revealed a theme on Reserve mobilisation and increased awareness in LAs and associated support, although the pattern seems to be different between the 3 services with different impacts.
Other agenda items
Actions from last meeting
Event evaluation and future planning
The intention had been to use the Covenant legislation as a theme for the on-line event however this has not been progressed. ADES has asked the NTO to create guidance for LOs in LAs to help position the role.
SAFESG web page
Ideas for using the web page to share information. An update will be given at the next meeting.
Education Support Fund
NTO additional guidance has been circulated and posted on the uk.gov website. Reminders will be sent out after the school holidays. All encouraged to initiate conversations and discussions. The Secretary will coordinate a suitable date for the Scotland Regional Panel meeting in October.
Armed Forces Covenant
The consultation has slipped but it is hoped that the results will be available in Jun. The Chair and NTO will be participating in a feedback session.
RCET provided a comprehensive update on the Literature Review. This was a lengthy review, drawing on information over a long time period, and from other countries with a view to identifying what is relevant here. The Group will be kept updated on this work.
Scotland is the only nation incorporating UNCRC policy formally. This may have an impact on engagement with children who are mobile and moving across jurisdictions.
Any other business
Education Policy Institute (EPI) paper
The Education Policy Institute Paper had been circulated to Group members at the request of the ADES Adviser. The findings in this paper have implications for children moving between jurisdictions. Further work will take place on outcomes with a further report in the summer. The EPI report highlights several point of significance and assists understanding early years across jurisdictions, school systems and comparisons, governance and autonomy, and funding differentials per child across the UK.
Update from headteacher representative
The Chair will request an update from the Headteacher Representative to share with the Group. This will be a formal agenda item for future meetings.
Action: chair secretary
Date of next meetings
The next meeting dates are 1 September and 1 December, timings to be confimed.