UNCRC Implementation Embedding in Public Services Group minutes: 15 August 2022

Attendees and apologies

In attendance

  • Nicola Hughes (chair), Scottish Government
  • Aidan Flegg, Scottish Government
  • Carola Eyber, Scottish Government
  • Caroline McMenemy, Scottish Government
  • Fraser Gorn, Scottish Government
  • Paul Gorman, Scottish Government
  • Lesleyann Russell, Scottish Government
  • Lyndsey Saki, Scottish Government
  • Andrew Sheridan, Scottish Public Services Ombudsmen (SPSO)
  • Cathy Asante, Scottish Human Rights Commission
  • Deborah Davidson, ADES
  • Dragan Nastic, UNICEF
  • Eloise Di Gianni, The Observatory for Children’s Human Rights Scotland
  • Josh Barnham, SPSO
  • Lily Humphreys, Children’s Hearings Scotland
  • Lucinda Rivers, UNICEF
  • Rebekah Cameron-Berry, COSLA
  • Rosemary Agnew, SPSO
  • Suzanne Brown, SCRON
  • Tamar Jamieson, Police Scotland
  • Eilidh Walker (minutes), Scottish Government



  • Luiza Leite, Scottish Government
  • Poppy Prior, Scottish Government
  • Rachel Nicholson, Scottish Government
  • Shelly Coyne, Scottish Government
  • Alison Sutherland, Social Work Scotland
  • Alistair Stobie, SOLAR
  • Darren Little, Dumfries and Galloway Council
  • Deborah Wason, Public Health Scotland
  • Joanne Glennie, CCPS
  • Juliet Harris, Together Scotland
  • Julie Williams, CCPS
  • Kenny Meechan, Glasgow City Council
  • Maria Doyle, Together Scotland
  • Nancy Fancott, CCPS
  • Nicola Hogg, SOLAR
  • Sarah Rodger, SOLAR

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Nicola Hughes welcomed the group and introduced guests Josh Barnham, Rosemary Agnew and Andrew Sheridan from SPSO; Aidan Flegg, Children’s Rights Budgeting Policy Officer; Paul Gorman and Caroline McMenemy from the Empowered Children and Young People Team and Lyndsey Saki, Programme Lead for the Embedding Children’s Rights in Public Services Team, who joined SG in June.

Minutes and actions from previous meeting

Minutes from the meeting of 16 May 2022 have been circulated with members and were made available on the group page shortly thereafter.

There was one outstanding item from the meeting on 21 February 2022:

  • Nicola Hughes to pick up with Aidan Flegg re children’s rights budgeting (CRB) presentation. This is covered in item six on today’s Agenda

There were seven open actions from the meeting on 16 May 2022:

  • SG to share final Theory of Change (ToC) report once published. This was circulated with papers
  • SG to continue to provide updates on remedial work on the Bill at future meetings. Standing item – covered in item three on the agenda
  • Eloise Di Gianni to update the group with finalised future work plans for the ToC project at a future meeting. This is covered in item four of the agenda
  • Lesleyann Russell will share the finalised self-evaluation report with the group when ready. Covered in AOB. The report will be shared with the minutes from this meeting
  • Lesleyann Russell will circulate the link to the Welsh framework with the group. This was circulated with papers
  • 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. This is covered in item seven on the agenda
  • SPSO to present at future meeting about their work around child friendly complaints. This is covered in item five on the agenda

Update on remedial work on Bill

Nicola Hughes (NH) provided an update on remedial work on the Bill, noting that we are currently drafting amendments to the Bill to resolve the legislative competence issue and engaging the parliamentary authorities about the timetable and process for Reconsideration Stage. We would ideally like to have the Bill returned to Parliament for Reconsideration Stage and hopefully passed (we cannot pre-empt Parliament though) before the end of calendar year, but the timescales will depend on whether the relevant Committees would like to schedule time to scrutinise the amendments. Additionally, given the UK Law Officers’ power under the Scotland Act to refer a reconsidered Bill to the Supreme Court, we are engaging with the UK Government on the nature of our amendments to assess and try to address the risk of another challenge.

Update on Theory of Change (ToC) project

Eloise Di Gianni (EDG) provided an update on plans for future work following the publication of the Theory of Change for Making Children’s Rights Real in June 2022.

There were seven ToC project outputs published in June 2022. They are, a PDF summary outlining the key principles of the ToC, the full report and four evidence papers, one for each of the four change process highlighted in the ToC.

The ToC has been developed to be used as a high-level framework that can be applied to members’ work. The full report includes guidance on how to do this. For example, tailoring the ToC to organisations’ work and context and drawing from evidence papers to build concrete actions for change.

The Improvement Service is trialling a framework adapted from the ToC for local authorities. The Observatory will publish best practice resources on child participation in CRWIA in early autumn. The Observatory are exploring work on children’s rights (CR) indicators as well as on CRWIA at the moment and have approached SG about this.

EDG welcomed members to contact her directly if they wish to speak further about the ToC or plans for work stemming from it.

SPSO child friendly complaints procedure

Josh Barnham (JB) and Rosemary Agnew (RA) provided an overview of SPSO’s child friendly complaints procedure. SPSO are co-designing and implementing a public sector complaints model that meets the needs and rights of children and young people (CYP). This is produced in co-operation with CYP, public bodies and wider stakeholders.

RA explained the statutory duty that SPSO have in relation to complaints procedures, noting that language and accessibility are of high importance when drafting the model to ensure parents, carers, families and advocates have a framework that supports them.

A draft model of the complaints handling procedure is due in October, from which a formal consultation will take place from October to December 2022. Implementation of the procedure is due to happen from January to April 2023.

A range of research has taken place including stakeholder mapping and analysis, landscape analysis (looking at existing progress and procedures) and output analysis (areas for exploration for co-design in groups). JB noted the ToC has been very useful when undertaking landscape analysis.

Stakeholder engagement will take place throughout the process, for example, engaging with CYP by visiting schools and support groups, with parents, carers and families and advocate organisations, frontline staff, teachers and the Scottish Government (SG).

Full knowledge of CR is key for all public sector workers. There are nine requirements of particular relevance covering a range of articles, including articles 1 (definition of the child), 2 (non-discrimination), 3 (best interests of the child), 12 (respect for the views of the child) and 16 (right to privacy).

JB noted that areas for further exploration include, provision of information; channels of communication; reducing formality; timescales for resolving complaints; advocacy; assessment of capacity and balancing of children’s and parents’ rights and consent.

RA noted that the SPSO would like to be involved in discussions around CR indicators. EDG mentioned that the work on CR indicators is in discussion at present, but she would like to talk further when work progresses.

RA noted that SPSO’s powers don’t cover the police and judiciary. SPSO are working on taking forward how they would get scrutiny and oversight of child friendly complaints across the whole of Scotland.

Questions from the group included:

  • to what extent is the SPSO’s work covering the full spectrum of feedback? RA noted SPSO’s feedback route would often be through the public body, they also give feedback of good and poor practice. There are a number of forums that would be interested in child friendly processes in different contexts. Health Improvement Scotland chair a group, the Sharing Intelligence for Health and Care Group, which looks at data about NHS boards. RA noted this board is helpful and might be replicated in child friendly terms, looking at things on a more holistic level with less detail
  • how much guidance and support around a strict definition of complaint is SPSO giving? The definition of complaint includes the expression of dissatisfaction. SPSO are progressing work around the definition of complaint in the context of a child friendly complaints system, as a child may raise an issue without expressing dissatisfaction. Currently, SPSO’s statutory duties only apply to complaints

NH noted interest in the data surrounding the work on child-friendly complaints, suggesting it may be of interest to public authorities.

Action: Nicola Hughes, Josh Barnham and Andrew Sheridan to meet to discuss data around child-friendly complaints

Child rights budgeting (CRB)

Aidan Flegg provided a presentation on CRB and ongoing work in this area across SG.

Aidan discussed the need for all human rights realisation to be underpinned by resources. All human rights should be respected, protected and fulfilled.

The presentation outlined how the framework of respecting, protecting and fulfilling rights can be applied by public authorities throughout the budget cycle.

In relation to economic, social and cultural rights, there are four principle factors to aid our understanding of the progressive realisation of CR. These are: maximum available resources; non-regression; minimum core obligations and cross-cutting principle of non-discrimination.

Throughout the yearly budgetary cycle the core areas of practice to embed are contained in the PANEL principles (participation, accountability, non-discrimination, empowerment and law). In addition, it is important to be mindful of the following key considerations throughout the cycle:

  • budget formulation – for example, utilising CRWIA on budgetary proposals
  • budget approval – ensure adequate assessments of budget proposals are made with reference to children’s rights outcomes
  • budget execution – continuous process throughout the year not a one off event
  • budget scrutiny and oversight – has scrutiny been made available transparently?

The following are examples of steps taken to support and deliver CRB in Scotland: the Children’s Rights Scheme; inclusion of sections on CRB in statutory guidance; inclusion of materials within the Skills and Knowledge Framework and ongoing budgetary improvement across Scotland, including a fiscal framework as well as understanding where improvements can be made in understanding and transparency.

Comments from the group:

  • UNICEF is keen to support SG’s work in this area and have a number of resources that can be shared – please contact Lucinda Rivers when exploring this work further
  • this appears to be the general measure of implementation that has been most scarcely implemented – a lot of progress has been achieved by Spain recently
  • will there be space for reflection in guidance around how public authorities fulfil reporting duties, with space for thought around how PAs are looking at CR and CRB? The Guidance for Part 2 will contain a section on elements of a child rights-based approach and this will also include a section on CRB

Using networks to implement the UNCRC

Paul Gorman (PG) from the Empowered Children and Young People team presented on how his team uses networks to implement the UNCRC.

UNCRC Parents, Carers and Families Network

PG noted that parents’ organisations raised questions around how SG are reaching parents, carers and families in relation to CR and the UNCRC. It was identified that we need to understand how we raise awareness to parents, carers and families to ensure they are empowered and not worried about the new Bill. The network began by looking at the data from the IPSOS/Mori Parents’ Survey, then reflected on the lived experiences brought by the parents’ organisations, and finally conducted qualitative research as a deeper dive. This process guaranteed a collective approach to clarify the current understanding and opinions within the system.

The team are creating a new UNCRC booklet, the template of which was created by the Parents’ network and will include five sections, with key messages and real life examples of the UNCRC and CR in practice throughout.

The final booklet will be published in early October 2022, with a formal launch in November 2022 for World Children’s Day.

Questions from the group:

  • how will the leaflets be made available? 2,000 physical copies will be printed and shared with parents’ organisations. A digital PDF will be on the Parents Network section of the SG website and the Parents Club website. We will also promote it though the UNCRC Programme Updates and will ask the Improvement Service to post it on their Knowledge Hub

UNCRC Comms Network

PG outlined the key strengths of this network as being: the diversity of its members; specialist knowledge within stakeholder groups; looking at problems, not solutions and making sure there is connectivity amongst organisations and in the work created.

PG noted work is happening within complex systems and that this requires a different way of working. Creating networks provides better knowledge of what’s happening within these systems.

Update on a number of key projects

Lyndsey Saki provided a brief update on a number of key projects led by the Embedding Children’s Rights in Public Services Team.

Skills and Knowledge Framework

The contract for the Skills and Knowledge Framework has been awarded. The supplier for this work will be a partnership between JRS Knowhow, as the lead organisation, Together Scotland and Children’s Parliament.

The organisations involved are planning to convene and work closely with two groups of coproduction partners – a Children and Families Panel and a Professionals Panel to support the development of this work. Planning work is underway, and we are working to arrange a time for the project leads to attend a future group meeting to share more on the development process.

Children’s Rights Reporting

We are currently looking at the transition of duties from the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 Act to the UNCRC Bill. We engaged in a targeted consultation which closed on 5 August and are currently analysing responses.

Innovation Fund

The Innovation Fund failed to attract a Fund Administrator in the tender process. The team have reviewed learning from the exercise and have started to scope out a plan to reissue tender with a view to starting the contract at the beginning of the next financial year.

Animation project

A short animation to support the UNCRC Introductory guidance is now in the post-production phase and expected to be with SG week commencing 15 August.


Since the last Embedding in Public Services Group meeting two meetings of the Guidance Subgroup have taken place: one in June and one in August. At the June meeting two papers were reviewed: Paper 1 on the Purpose and Scope of the Compatibility Review Framework and Paper 2 on the Skeleton Outline of Part 2 and Part 3 Statutory Guidance. At the August meeting an early draft of some sections of the Draft Compatibility Review Framework were shared with Guidance Group members. This draft is not intended to be shared beyond the group. This document is a work in progress and many sections will depend on the exact wording of the remedial fixes to be proposed. At the August meeting a further paper on the options for how SG may wish to use the reports that are to be submitted by listed authorities was also shared and discussed.

Carola Eyber also reminded the meeting that the work with the Guidance Subgroup is not intended as a substitute for formal consultation on Guidance which will still be undertaken if the Bill is passed and Royal Assent is granted.

The next edition of the UNCRC Implementation Programme Update will be distributed towards the end of August.

Any other business

Lyndsey Saki provided an update on the self-evaluation project conducted by the Improvement Service.

The purpose of this report was to undertake a review of self-evaluation frameworks across the public sector in Scotland and the UK, to understand how these are currently being used to evaluate progress in delivering a children’s rights-based approach.

Five self-evaluation frameworks stood out as worthy of particular consideration and reflection to help support local authorities in Scotland: Inverclyde Council’s Rights of the child award; Children’s Rights approach Wales; The Finnish Model of UNICEF’s Child Friendly Cities Initiative; The Child Friendly City Governance Checklist and the Irish Government participatory framework.

The Embedding Team are considering next steps for how to best take forward the recommendations in the report. Lyndsey Saki invited members to contact her with further questions or note interest in working with the team on this project. The finalised paper will be shared with the minutes from this meeting.

Action: Eilidh Walker to share finalised self-evaluation report with members.

The next meeting is on Monday 21 November 2022.

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