UNCRC Implementation Embedding in Public Services Group minutes: 20 February 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 20 February 2023.

Attendees and apologies

In attendance

  • Liz Levy (chair), Scottish Government
  • Gita Sharkey, Scottish Government
  • Lesleyann Russell, Scottish Government
  • Eilidh Walker (minutes), Scottish Government
  • Alison Sutherland, Social Work Scotland
  • Colin Grant, ADES
  • Darren Little, Dumfries and Galloway Council
  • Eloise Di Gianni, Observatory for Children’s Human Rights Scotland
  • Lucinda Rivers, UNICEF UK
  • Felicia Szloboda, The Improvement Service
  • Jane Donaldson, Police Scotland
  • Laura Conachan, Children’s Hearings Scotland
  • Maria Doyle, Together Scotland
  • Rebecca Spillane, The Improvement Service
  • Rebekah Cameron-Berry, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Suzanne Brown, Quarriers


  • Lyndsey Saki, Scottish Government
  • Alistair Stobie, SOLAR
  • Cathy Asante, Scottish Human Rights Commission
  • Deborah Wason, Public Health Scotland
  • Deborah Davidson, ADES
  • Ian McKinnon, Police Scotland
  • Joanne Glennie, Right There
  • Julie Williams, Quarriers
  • Juliet Harris, Together Scotland
  • Kenny Meechan, Glasgow City Council/SOLAR
  • Morag Driscol, Law Society Scotland
  • Nancy Fancott, Coalition of Care and Support Providers Scotland
  • Nicola Hogg, SOLAR
  • Sarah Rodger, SOLAR

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Liz Levy (LL), Joint Unit Head for the Children’s Rights Unit, introduced herself as chair of the meeting, noting Lyndsey Saki’s apologies. LL welcomed Laura Conachan, the new member for Children’s Hearings Scotland.

Actions from previous meeting

Minutes from the previous meeting on 21 November 2022 have been circulated and made available on the group page.

There were two open actions from the previous meeting, they are as follows:

  • Lesleyann Russell (LR) to facilitate an item with the group on the recommendations from the self-evaluation report and plans to take this work forward. This is item six on the agenda.
  • LR to bring plans for how Scottish Government (SG) will share learning from children’s rights (CR) reporting to the group for discussion and to inform taking this work forward. This is item seven on the agenda.

Update on Remedial Work on Bill

On 7 February 2023 the Minister for Children and Young People, Ms Haughey, gave an update in Parliament, on progress with amending the Bill, as part of a Member’s debate.

Ms Haughey explained that there are ongoing discussions with the UK Government (UKG) about the amendments to the Bill and that these discussions are focused on what the Supreme Court judgement means for the application of the compatibility duty when a public authority is acting under powers conferred by UK Acts in devolved areas. The Scottish Government (SG) have been clear, since May 2022, that the Supreme Court judgment means that the compatibly duty can’t apply when a public authority is acting under powers conferred by a UK Act and that Act requires them to act in a way that’s incompatible.

The discussions with the UKG are currently focused on how the duty can apply where a UK Act in a devolved area gives a public authority discretion about whether or not to act in a way that’s compatible. Our hope has been that in those circumstances, the Bill could require a public authority to act compatibly. We’re considering carefully whether the Supreme Court judgement does indeed enable us to do this, and to do so in a way that doesn’t over-complicate the Bill.

While these considerations are underway, it is not yet possible to confirm the timetable for bring the Bill back to Parliament. We hope that stakeholders understand the importance of making the time to consider this issue.

Ms Haughey said she will endeavour to provide a further update around 16 March 2023 – the two year anniversary of the Bill being passed.

Improvement Service update on ongoing work with local authorities to support their readiness for UNCRC implementation

Rebecca Spillane (RS) and Felicia Szloboda from the Improvement Service (IS) introduced themselves. RS provided a presentation which gave an overview of the following topics:

  • a brief overview of the IS UNCRC project, including the local government peer network, Knowledge Hub and webinars
  • resources and tools such as a resource for Elected members; Getting Ready for UNCRC Framework Tool and a paper named Tackling Inequality Across the Lifespan
  • feedback from local authorities who have been through the Getting Ready for UNCRC process

Action: Eilidh Walker to share Rebecca Spillane’s presentation with the group after the meeting.

Colin Grant noted interest in the work being progressed by East Lothian Council, shown in RS’ presentation. He highlighted monthly meetings held by ADES with Directors of Education and will speak to the Executive Director for Education and Children’s Services at East Lothian Council about presenting at a future meeting. He also welcomed RS to join the next meeting.

Update on key programmes from the Embedding Team

Gita Sharkey (GS) introduced herself as Joint Unit Head for the Children’s Rights Unit. GS provided updates on the following key programmes within the Embedding Children’s Rights in Public Services team.

Statutory guidance and consultation

The team are driving forward the development of statutory guidance, whilst remedial work on the Bill continues. We have continued to work closely with and be informed by the UNCRC Implementation Guidance sub-group and are incredibly grateful for their insights and contributions. The February meeting of the guidance group took place on Tuesday 21 February 2023.

As shared in the Bill update, current discussions with UKG are focused on the compatibility duty under section 6 of the UNCRC Bill. Therefore, certain aspects of the guidance are dependent on the outcome of the remedial action. The guidance will be prepared to reflect any amendments made to the Bill provisions.

Plans are progressing for undertaking consultation on the guidance, including engagement with children and young people (CYP). Current planning is for this to take place concurrently with the consultation on the Children’s Rights Scheme.

Innovation Fund

A grant has been offered to the Corra Foundation to act as our delivery partner for the Innovation Fund. £500,000 will be available in grant funding for the financial year 2023/24. The purpose of the fund is to provide financial support for testing and implementing creative approaches to embedding CR in public bodies. Corra will commence initial project planning with a view to taking the fund live in Spring 2023.

The team have discussed with Corra how CYP will be involved in the design and delivery of the grant fund. Corra have worked with young people in a similar way on other projects. Therefore, they are keen to put together an exciting programme of work that meaningfully engages young people in a way that uses their skills and talents to maximum effect. We will share further information on this as the project develops.

Action: LR to invite Corra to the next meeting of the Embedding Group to discuss the Innovation Fund.

Skills and Knowledge Framework

Work is continuing on the Skills and Knowledge framework, being led by JRS Knowhow, Together and Children’s Parliament. Sessions, including in person events, of both the children and families panel and professionals panel have now taken place, and the work of these, alongside research on the needs of the workforce are informing the development of capacity building resources.

Discussion on work to embed child rights considerations into existing frameworks

LR facilitated an item building on previous discussion about self-evaluation and the report on current self-evaluation models prepared by the IS. The key recommendations of the report are:

  • to use content from the Inverclyde Rights of the Child (IROC) award to build a self-evaluation framework annex
  • to consider the adoption/adaptation of the Child Friendly City checklist for Scottish public authorities
  • to use content of Wales’ CR approach to help build any recommended self-evaluation framework or annex for public authorities
  • potential to work with the Public Sector Improvement Framework (PSIF) to develop a “Children’s Rights Approach Annex”

The group were asked four questions:

  1. do they feel that these are still the right actions?
  2. is there scope to refine proposed actions?
  3. is the emphasis in the right place to achieve impact?
  4. are there any easy wins we are missing?

Eloise Di Gianni (EDG) asked what the timeline for this work is; what the next steps are in terms of deadlines; who is driving this forward and how is self-evaluation being looked at alongside the Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy?

LR replied that the immediate priority of the work is around public authorities’ readiness for commencement of the UNCRC Bill. The various evaluation frameworks have different impacts on the change process. To maximise impact, we need to sequence them properly and to some extent that drives development timelines and prioritisation. Some of the suggested frameworks such as PSIF need to hang off legislation and guidance and as such will fall later in the sequencing/prioritisation.

Lucinda Rivers (LRI) noted that there is a lot of ongoing work in line with the Child Friendly Cities (CFC) initiative, highlighting work in Aberdeen. LRI noted she is happy to share more information around CFC. LRI also advised there may be some funding to support further work on Child Friendly Cities. Expressions of interest should go to LRI at UNICEF UK.

Discussion on sharing learning from CR reporting

LR led a discussion around shared learning from CR reports. The discussion relates to reports under the UNCRC Bill not the current legislation (Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014). As new reports will be required to be submitted to Scottish Ministers under the Bill, it is important that we take learning from both full reports and those designed for children.

The session drew on the discussion had with the guidance sub-group in August 2022 on the use of reports and the work SG have done since, including adding a short chapter to the Part 3 Guidance.

Action: Eilidh Walker to share reporting paper with the group after the meeting.

EDG suggested it would be helpful to see a range in the age group of CYP supporting with the work to analyse the easy read reports.

EDG noted that the Observatory for Children’s Human Rights Scotland (The Observatory) worked with the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland to submit a Freedom of Information request (FOI) to all local authorities to submit their reports. The outcome of the FOI will be to publish existing CR reports on The Observatory’s website.

EDG noted they hope initial analysis will enable them to feed into the consultation on statutory guidance. The Observatory are currently scoping plans to secure further support for deeper analysis of the reports.

LL asked what the purpose of publishing the reports on The Observatory’s website is? EDG noted that the FOI request originated from a want to make it easier for third sector organisations to understand activity in their local area in relation to CR.

Darren Little (DL) suggested it would be useful to gain feedback on CR reports, having reflected on the process for receiving feedback for Children’s Services Plans. He highlighted that Dumfries and Galloway Council produced a joint report with their Health Board. Plans are currently underway to include community planning partnerships in their report.

Jane Donaldson (JD) noted interest in having a conversation around themes that are taken from reporting, for example, violence against women and girls.

LR responded that one of the things the Children's Rights would like to use analysis of reports for is to draw out thematic issues, such as JD referenced, to understand how different bodies are responding to similar rights issues.

RS asked if SG are aware of other organisations that would be interested in analysing the reports, for example, the Children’s Commissioners Office. LR noted we are not currently aware but would expect that there will be interest from academics and PhD students.

DL noted it would be useful to reflect on what indicators are currently used in reporting and what bodies are already reporting nationally against the National Performance Framework, education, social work and health. LL highlighted an initial analysis mapping exercise has taken place to look at such indicators. LL agreed to share the paper that includes the findings from this work.

Action: Eilidh Walker to share paper on initial mapping exercise to identify existing sources of data that could be used to assess the extent to which each of the articles in the UNCRC are embedded in Scotland, with the group after the meeting.

Any other business

LR highlighted an event hosted in partnership between SG and IS around CR reporting. The event will be held online on 27 February 2023. There has been a strong uptake, with the event now sold out and over 100 participants attending.

The date of the next meeting is Monday 15 May, 10 AM to 12 noon.

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