UNCRC Implementation Embedding in Public Services Group minutes: 16 May 2022

Attendees and apologies

In attendance

  • Nicola Hughes (chair), Scottish Government – NH
  • Alison Sutherland, Social Work Scotland – AS
  • Carola Eyber, Scottish Government – CE
  • Darren Little, Dumfries and Galloway Council – DL
  • Deborah Davidson, ADES – DD
  • Eloise Di Gianni, Observatory for Children’s Human Rights Scotland – EDG
  • Fraser Gorn, Scottish Government – FG
  • Jane Donaldson, Police Scotland – JD
  • Lesleyann Russell, Scottish Government – LR
  • Lily Humphreys, Children’s Hearings Scotland – LH
  • Luiza Leite, Scottish Government – LL
  • Maria Doyle, Together Scotland – MD
  • Paul Gorman, Scottish Government – PG
  • Poppy Prior, Scottish Government – PP
  • Rebecca Spillane, Improvement Service – RS
  • Rebekah Cameron-Berry, COSLA – RCB
  • Susan Revie, Scottish Government – SR
  • Suzanne Brown, SCRON – SB
  • Eilidh Walker (minutes), Scottish Government – EW


  • Cathy Asante, Scottish Human Rights Commission
  • Debby Wason, Public Health Scotland
  • Dragan Nastic, UNICEF
  • Julie Williams, CCPS
  • Juliet Harris, Together Scotland
  • Liz Levy, Scottish Government
  • Shona Spence, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

NH welcomed the group and introduced new member Lily Humphreys from Children’s Hearings Scotland.

Minutes and actions from previous meeting

Minutes from the previous meeting have been circulated with members and made available on the group page shortly thereafter.

Actions from previous meetings

Actions from the meeting of 21 February 2022:

  • SG to facilitate a future meeting with members when the Theory of Change (ToC) report has been published
    • the ToC report will return to SG later this month, 19 May, and a final date for publication is being decided, it will be shared with the group at that point. SG previously agreed to have a facilitated session so this group could consider how best to make use of the ToC report, RS has had similar requests from Local Authorities (LAs). SG and the Improvement Service (IS) have briefly discussed facilitating something together with this group. If members are still keen to progress this, SG can look at what might be possible and come back to the group with plans
  • LR to share completed self-evaluation project paper with the group for feedback
    • covered in item 6 of the agenda
  • NH to pick up with Aidan Flegg re child rights budgeting (CRB) presentation
    • Aidan Flegg will be joining SG in June, on a temporary basis to support the arrangements for CRB within the Children’s Rights Scheme. We will provisionally hold a space for our August meeting for Aidan to deliver an input on CRB as previously requested

There are no further pending actions from the previous meeting of 21 March 2022.

Action: SG to share final ToC report once published.

Action: SG to share self-evaluation report with group once available.

Update on remedial work on Bill

There has been no update on remedial work on the Bill since the last meeting on 21 March 2022. SG are continuing to consider options for remedy, with the Deputy First Minister’s preference still being to return the Bill to the Scottish Parliament via the Reconsideration stage. SG will continue to update the group.

Action: SG to continue to provide updates on remedial work on the Bill at future meetings.

Local authorities (LAs) stock-take on implementation

Rebecca Spillane, Improvement Service, provided an update on work she has led to understand the needs of LAs to implement children’s rights (CR), in light of incorporation.

Key points of discussion included:

  • mixed levels of buy in from senior members of LAs to further invest in UNCRC work at this stage with competing demands on capacity impacted by COVID-19 – many are keen to take a collaborative approach with community planning partners
  • actions to progress CR locally, examples of which include: Cross Service Working Groups established; audit of current activity/state of readiness; leadership workshops; Impact Assessment work and integration and changes to HR policy to include UNCRC awareness
  • the alignment of CR with other important agendas including GIRFEC, The Promise, Equally Safe, Trauma Informed Practice, Child Poverty (Wellbeing Fund) and Equality work
  • case study of Angus Council’s work to implement the UNCRC
  • LAs’ concerns around implementation of the UNCRC
  • LAs’ ambitions to give further and fuller affect to the rights of children
  • examples of help and support needed to implement the UNCRC
  • overview of the Improvement Service UNCRC project

Questions from the group:

  • we are aware of a split between LAs that feel ready for commencement of the Bill and those who feel extra time is needed. Are you aware of what this split looks like?

RS noted that exact figures can’t be ascertained at this early stage. However, those that feel ready do so because they have capacity to implement or already have a heightened knowledge, understanding and interest in the UNCRC which is reflected in their work.

Update on Theory of Change project

Eloise Di Gianni provided an update on the ToC project and plans for future work.

The final report is nearing completion and will be published in late May 2022. EDG noted early feedback from stakeholders around presentation and practicality of the ToC was taken on board and implemented in the final document.

Plans for future work include:

  • Public Health Scotland (PHS) are in conversation with IS around how to take the ToC forward and are looking into using the ToC to create an action plan
  • a series of webinars to take forward next steps from learning around creating the ToC and providing a space for stakeholders to share their experiences of using the ToC in practice and to outline their next steps. This is currently in progress and EDG noted she can update the group at a future meeting with finalised plans
  • The Observatory for Children’s Human Rights Scotland is considering plans for future work around CR monitoring and creating CR indicators

NH noted it would be helpful to hear further about future plans for implementing the ToC and noted that ADES colleagues are looking into similar work around a tool to support LAs with readiness for commencement of the Bill. NH noted that EDG may wish to link in with ADES.

Action: EDG to update the group with finalised future work plans for the ToC project at a future meeting.

Action: NH to pick up with EDG around future plans for implementing the ToC.

Action: EDG to link in with ADES around their work to create a tool to support readiness for commencement.

Support to undertake self-evaluation

Lesleyann Russell provided an update on the key findings of the self-evaluation project conducted by the Improvement Service as part of the National Improvement Programme and set out next steps.

Key findings:

  • there is no self-evaluation framework within Scotland that addresses CR on a cross LA basis
  • noteworthy promising frameworks implemented outside of Scotland are UNICEF’s Child Friendly Cities (CFC) initiative, currently implemented by Aberdeen City Council, and the Welsh model developed by the Children’s Commissioner
  • to support the use of a self-evaluation framework of CR any framework adopted would benefit from being embedded in a broader self-evaluation structure such as How Good is Our Council (HGOC) or the Public Service Improvement Framework (PSIF)

LR noted there is still work to do to explore the two promising frameworks and the feasibility of incorporation in to HGOC or PSIF.

RS noted she is in the process of following up with Aberdeen City Council and invited LR to join the meeting once a date has been set.

RS also noted North Ayrshire Council has done a lot of work around child friendly resources.

Comments from the group:

  • where does this sit alongside the compatibility review model?

LR noted that the two do overlap and work together but dependent on where an LA is in the development cycle could dictate how they are used.

MD noted it may also be helpful to speak to Children’s Parliament as they were involved in some of the Aberdeen child-friendly cities work. The link to their work can be found here: Children's Parliament: Imagining Aberdeen.

Action: LR will share the finalised self-evaluation report with the group when ready.

Action: LR will circulate the link to the Welsh framework with the group.

Work on participation of children and young people and the UNCRC

Paul Gorman provided an update on work the Empowered Children and Young People Team are conducting regarding participation of children and young people.

Key points of discussion included:

  • The Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) are currently looking at what meaningful participation with children and young people (CYP) looks like in different policy areas in SG. An invitation went out within SG asking which policy areas would like to engage with CYP, looking at what participation looks like in their area
  • the two areas of interest being taken forward, chosen by CYP were gambling and the exchange programme, ERASMUS
  • the conversations with policy teams have looked at culture in which participation exists and how do you hold uncertainty and unknowns to take the work forward.
  • shadowing project whereby policy leads shadow CYP in meetings to open up the dialogue between policy and CYP
  • Cabinet takeovers where CYP are invited to sit down with members of the Cabinet and ET
  • publishing good practice and a guidance framework about participation of CYP in Spring 2023 that builds on the SG webpage about what involving children in decision making looks like
  • a Consortium of member organisations which will work with SG to ensure the meaningful participation of CYP is currently in its procurement process

Questions from the group included:

  • which policy areas are shadowing and how are you going to pull together the findings of this project?
  • which areas did CYP choose?
  • have conversations been had around the ethics in involving CYP in certain conversations and research around including CYP safely and appropriately?

The policy areas CYP highlighted as being of interest included mental health; violence against women and girls; economic recovery; infrastructure; island’s network and Scottish towns of culture There were 9 areas of interest and those that weren’t picked will work with SYP.

SYP will be looking at various ethical questions around participation.  We are using existing toolkits/models to help guide the work, i.e. Laura Lundy, and the Irish hub.  We will address questions to understand when to involve YP, how (methodology), and what our expectations are of them.

PG shared his email address for the group to contact him around any of the work he spoke to: paul.gorman@scot.gov

Action: The Empowered Children and Young People team will present their work around how they use networks to implement the UNCRC at the next meeting on 15 August 2022

Guidance sub-group

Carola Eyber provided an update on the work of the guidance sub-group.

Discussion points:

  • conversations with LAs around guidance:
    • LAs wish to use guidance as a routine reference point, there is therefore a need for it to be useful and accessible
    • child friendly complaints procedures: an update of this is to be provided at a future meeting
  • the differing awareness of LAs around existing support and guidance around CRWIAs. CE noted that whilst it is not mandatory for LAs to undertake CRWIA, SG recommend and support their use. SG will work to ensure guidance for CRWIAs is shared widely
  • the proposed content of statutory guidance for Part 2 of the Bill

CE noted that the SPSO are currently developing guidance around child friendly complaints. SG are in the process of securing SPSO to present to the group at a future meeting about the work they are undertaking around child friendly complaints.

Action: SPSO to present at future meeting about their work around child friendly complaints.

CE noted the guidance sub-group now has a webpage on the SG website that houses the meeting minutes and Terms of Reference for the group.


The next meeting is on Monday 15 August 2022.

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