UNCRC Embedding in Public Services Guidance Sub-group minutes: November 2022

Minutes of the group meeting on 8 November 2022.

Attendees and apologies

In attendance

  • Carola Eyber (Chair), Scottish Government – CE
  • Luiza Leite (Minutes), Scottish Government – LL
  • Lyndsey Saki, Scottish Government – LS
  • Nicola Hughes, Scottish Government – NH
  • Amy Kerr, Scottish Government – AK
  • Lesleyann Russell, Scottish Government – LR
  • Darren Little, Dumfries and Galloway Council - DC
  • Rebekah Cameron-Berry, COSLA – RCB
  • Sarah Rodger, SOLAR – SR
  • Rebecca Spillane, Improvement Service –RS
  • Tamar Jamieson, Police Scotland –TJ
  • Felicia Szloboda, Improvement Service – FS


  • Susan Revie, Scottish Government
  • Dragan Nastic, Unicef
  • Julie Williams, CCPS
  • Vicky Wan, Children’s Parliament 
  • Debby Wason, Public Health Scotland

Items and actions

Welcome, apologies and introductions of first-time attendees

CE welcomed members and introduced first-time attendee Felicia Szloboda from the Improvement Service.

Review of minutes and action points

CE highlighted the update on transitional reporting arrangements provided in writing by LR following the meeting held on 27 September 2022. The minutes would be updated to reflect the additional information.

Members approved the minutes from the meeting held on 27 September 2022 subject to this amendment which will soon be made available on the group page. There were no outstanding action points.

Update on remedial work on Bill (NH)

NH provided the following update verbally and also provided it in writing for clarity.

UK Government engagement

The Scottish Government (SG) are actively engaging with the UK Government over the proposed amendments, given the UK Law Officers’ power under the Scotland Act to refer a reconsidered Bill to the Supreme Court. This engagement will provide an opportunity to raise any issues in advance of the Bill being returned to Parliament.

Admissibility of amendments

SG are also engaging with the Parliamentary authorities to determine whether proposed amendments to the Bill are admissible at Reconsideration Stage. According to the Parliament’s Standing Orders, Reconsideration Stage is “for the purpose of resolving the problem which is the subject of the decision of the Supreme Court”. This limits the nature of amendments that can be made during Reconsideration Stage, and so, by using this route, Parliament is limited to addressing the judgment of the Supreme Court.

Once Ministers are content with final amendments a motion will be lodged with Parliament asking for the Bill to be reconsidered.

Statutory guidance consultation: update at December meeting

A fuller update on the planned consultation process will be provided at the December meeting. CE thanked members for the input they had provided during the last meeting in September and in writing since then, and assured members that their points are being included in the ongoing considerations. There will be further opportunities for inputting into the process when this will be discussed at the meeting on 13 December 2022, including further suggestions of who should be included in the consultation process if it were to be a targeted consultation.

Discussion on drafts circulated ahead of the meeting on the following topics:

  • introduction to the guidance (with some placeholders for remedial wording/Bill process)
  • sections from the child rights-based approach: awareness raising, participation and inclusive communication

CE noted that different parts of the guidance are being produced simultaneously and sections will be shared according to the timetable previously shared with members. Part 3 Guidance will be shared with the group ahead of the December meeting. Where placeholders need to be inserted due to ongoing remedial work, this will be indicated in the drafts.

The following discussion / comments were captured from members:

  • useful to see guidance sections made available as it emerges
  • introduction, history, inclusive communication sections are useful
  • wording around devolved and reserved matters may require further explanation as this is a complex area – will there be an easier way to identify how the requirements would apply to public bodies in regard to these matters? Will there be some case studies on how public bodies can decide what is within scope and what is not? CE confirmed there will be a longer and more comprehensive explanation of this topic under chapter six of the guidance which deals with the Compatibility Review Framework. CE also explained that case studies about devolved and reserved matters are unlikely to be in this guidance as the duties are new and therefore untested
  • glossary or key definitions section at the beginning of the document would be useful to provide clarity, especially for those who are new in this field, for example, use of the term “state parties” etc. CE agreed this could be included as a brief definition in a glossary with links to more in-depth explanations within other sections of guidance. Some terms are complex, such as “duty bearers” and will need more detailed explanations. It was noted that the ‘duty bearers’ for Part 2 and Part 3 guidance are different and this needs to be clarified as well
  • universal services are likely to require more input in terms of raising awareness and this adds a greater burden for public authorities. This may not necessarily go into the guidance but is a factor to consider
  • case studies on implementing a child rights-based approach throughout the guidance were welcomed
  • RS asked whether the guidance will focus on prioritising a particular group of children who are more likely to experience breaches of their rights. CE noted that some of the case studies focus on children who are furthest from having their rights fulfilled – we did this to highlight the complexity of the interplay between service provision, child rights and specific problems children experience. However, beyond this it is not a topic the guidance itself can address

Other comments received in writing ahead of the meeting were:

  • strengthening the reference to parents and carers: Together Scotland has a very useful briefing on the role of parents/carers within the UNCRC. The language used is ‘defenders of children’s rights’. It clearly explains the need for duty bearers to support parents in this.
  • the need to distinguish between child-friendly communication and easy-read versions of documents. In the recent GIRFEC guidance refresh consultation, several P6 children said they prefer an ‘easy read’ version – if a guidance uses plain English and good illustration, it should be acceptable to all including adults with additional support needs. There is a difference between communication with five year old children and 15-year olds and this needs to be reflected in guidance.

Action: Glossary of key terms to be considered for inclusion in the final guidance document.

Action: Consider distinguishing between child-friendly and easy-read communication in guidance.

CE noted we are open to receiving as much feedback as possible and encouraged members to keep sending feedback whenever they are able to, even after specific sections of guidance have already been discussed. CE also noted that verbal or written feedback is welcome.

The following sections are to be issued to members in November for discussion at the meeting on 13 December 2022:

  • draft guidance for part 3 reporting
  • child friendly reporting

Any other business

LS also noted that SG colleagues from the Embedding team attended the Children Services Partnership Planning meeting in September and gave an update regarding UNCRC implementation. There were three breakout sessions where three different points were discussed – lessons learned in children planning partnerships; working with bodies that are not directly working with children and discussion on experiences in relation to incorporating UNCRC. CE noted there was no focus on guidance during this session.

The next meeting will be held on Tuesday 13 December 2022.

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