UNCRC Strategic Implementation Board minutes: 25 November 2021

Minutes from the UNCRC Strategic Implementation Board meeting on 25 November 2021.

Attendees and apologies

Board attendees

  • Michael Chalmers, Chair, Scottish Government
  • Michael Cameron, Scottish Housing Regulator
  • Laura Caven, CoSLA
  • Jennifer Davidson, Institute for Inspiring Children's Futures
  • Jaci Douglas, CALA Childcare
  • Gayle Gorman, Education Scotland
  • Juliet Harris, Together
  • Louise Hunter, CCPS
  • Kay McCorquodale, Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service
  • Donna McLean, Healthcare Improvement Scotland
  • Craig Morris, Care Inspectorate
  • Dragan Nastic, UNICEF
  • Carol Potter, NHS Fife
  • Clare Simpson, Parenting Across Scotland
  • Gina Wilson, Children and Young People's Commissioner's Scotland

Other attendees

  • Colin Convery, Police Scotland
  • Daniel Garraghan, Human Rights Bill Policy Manager in Scottish Government
  • Liz Levy, Joint Unit Head for the Children’s Rights Unit
  • Sarah Morton, Matter of Focus
  • Natalie Nixon, UNCRC Programme Officer (minute taker)
  • Andrew Preston, UNCRC Programme Assistant
  • Billy Pugh, Scottish Government
  • Kay Tidsall and Eloise DiGianni, University of Edinburgh, associated with the Observatory of Children’s Human Rights Scotland


  • Kavita Chetty, Scottish Human Rights Commission
  • Ben Farrugia, Social Work Scotland
  • Louise Halpin, Scottish Government
  • Will Kerr, Police Scotland
  • Angela Leitch, Public Health Scotland
  • Fi McFarlane, The Promise
  • Lesley Sheppard, Scottish Government, Deputy Director: Children’s Rights, Protection and Justice
  • David Wallace, Social Security Scotland

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies, Michael Chalmers

Michael Chalmers (MC), Chair, welcomed everyone to the sixth meeting of the Strategic Implementation Board, especially new attendees and guests:

  • Liz Levy, new joint Unit Head for the Children’s Rights Unit
  • Billy Pugh from the Empowering Children and Young People Strand (observing for professional development purposes)
  • Laura Caven, CoSLA’s new lead for children and young people
  • guests involved in the Theory of Change work, attending to observe- Sarah Morton, Kay Tidsall and Eloise DiGianni

Minutes and actions from 28th October 2021, Michael Chalmers

MC invited comments on the 28th October minutes shared ahead of the meeting. There were no comments.

MC gave an update on the action point from the last meeting:

  • Dragan Nastic (DN), Gayle Gorman (GG) and Michael Chalmers attended the last meeting of the interim consortium
  • Paul Gorman (PG) and Juliet Harris (JH) are working together on ensuring there is an ongoing strategic relationship between Board members and the children and young people at the consortium
  • CoSLA will provide an update on their readiness for United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) Strategic Implementation Board Incorporation at a future Strategic Implementation Board (SIB) meeting under the Member’s Reflections item

UNCRC implementation update- highlight report, Liz Levy

Liz Levy (LL) highlighted the package of publications and communications published ahead of World Children’s Day on Saturday 20 November.

The overall purpose being to:

  • reassure public authorities and children and young people of our shared commitment committed to children’s rights and to UNCRC incorporation
  • showcase the work being already being done to support implementation even before legislative incorporation
  • to provide direction for public authorities in fulfilling their existing reporting duties and embed children’s rights into their work

LL confirmed that the Scottish Government published two reports on progressing children's Human Rights that were compiled in accordance with our duties under the 2014 Children and Young People Act. One of these reports set out how the Scottish Government has worked over the past three years to take forward children's rights and the other report - our action plan for 2021 to 2024 - set out our four strategic priorities for the next three years. We also published an updated template and guidance for Children's Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessments and introductory guidance on Children’s Rights and the UNCRC in Scotland.

An accompanying email to public bodies was also issued, explaining the impact of the announcements on their organisations, and actions they should take in response. Deputy First Minister (DFM) also issued a short video message reassuring children that we remain committed to incorporation of UNCRC.

Action: Liz requested board members’ help in disseminating DFM video message.

Proposals for targeted engagement on legislative response to the Supreme Court judgment, Liz Levy

LL confirmed that the Scottish Government are currently considering the most effective way forward to address the Supreme Court's judgment on the Bill. The Scottish Government remains committed to delivering UNCRC incorporation to the maximum extent possible but that has to be whilst also addressing the areas found to be outwith competence and avoiding further challenge.

The Scottish Government’s intention is to seek views on the proposed approach on the way forward through targeted engagement with stakeholders to inform advice to be put to ministers. It is not anticipated that this will be a lengthy engagement process and the Board were asked to prioritise these discussions. 

LL invited advice on who we should be engaging with and whether we can streamline engagement in any way.

This item generated some discussion:

  • some concerns about timescales with a clear appetite to do this properly, as soon as possible
  • MC confirmed that, although we would not be engaging on the precise wording of any amendment, this will focus on the technical means by which we propose to effect incorporation to the full extent possible, in light of the judgment, and we will not be revisiting the broader principles of the model of incorporation
  • a request for reassurance that the technical solutions would come from the Scottish Government as the Board does not have legal expertise
  • when this engagement is likely to start and whether the paper will be shared with the Board to discuss. The timescale for this engagement could not yet be confirmed. LL asked whether the Board would like to provide feedback during a meeting or individually as members. The Board confirmed that they’d like the opportunity to meet to discuss

Collective leadership group was suggested as another group to involve in the targeted engagement. Other suggestions for bodies to engage with were: Education Scotland; Parents Groups; ADES and SOLAR (Society of Local Authorities Lawyers & Administrators in Scotland).

Action: Secretariat to arrange an extra-ordinary meeting of the SIB, unless the timing of engagement coincides with a regular scheduled meeting of the Board.

Introduction to Theory of Change work and role of SIB in supporting this, Jennifer Davidson and Sarah Morton

Jennifer Davidson (JD) and Sarah Morton (SM) discussed the development of a collective Theory of Change for the implementation of the UNCRC in Scotland. A paper was shared earlier this week on the objectives of this work along with an invitation for members to attend a series of workshops.

JD mentioned that they were very keen to have the Board play a central role in the development of the theory of change. The Observatory recognises that UNCRC implementation is world leading, ambitious and complex.

This will be driven by assumptions about change so it will be important to create a common understanding together, by creating an evidence-based road map. It is important to think about sequencing, activities, actors and resources and how they will all come together to realise our ambitions. This will allow us to close the gap between ambitions and delivery. We need to increase everyone’s readiness and understand from outset our assumptions about change.

SM introduced Matter of Focus’s process for Theory of Change, highlighting that this work will not use an attribution system but a contribution system. They know that often in complex systems change relies on empowering, educating and influencing people. SM raised the four themes the TOC work is focusing on initially:

  • policy adaptation, coordination and administrative integration
  • building cross sector capacity and capability to integrate rights-based ways of working
  • changing attitudes, norms, values and everyday actions
  • creating a system of information, advocacy, complaints, redress and remedy for children

Matter of Focus will be facilitating workshops in the coming weeks and their outputs will be used to draft the Theories of Change, which will be widely consulted on in early 2022. The CYP interim consortium will also take part in a workshop on the draft TOC. A strand of the project is looking at evidence and being led by Public Health Scotland.

SM then asked the Board a few questions:

  • what is the outcome we are all working together to achieve?
  • what are the things we can do to help us get there?
  • what are they key mechanisms that might be considered as part of this systems change process? Is there anything missing? Are they too simple or too complex? Ideally they would be in the middle
  • what do we need to do to change people’s attitudes towards change?

This generated some discussion around the importance of bringing everyone on board and engaged, the importance of parents as the agency of change and building the trust and knowledge of parents, especially those from the most vulnerable populations, the importance of embedding the UNCRC general principles in the TOC, the need to work across all sectors and not just public authorities.

Questions were raised with how this fit in the existing workstreams and it was clarified that the aim of the TOC is to take a step back and create a common evidence-based vision and roadmap to ensure all the work being set in motion is on course.

Update and feedback from the Interim Consortium, Juliet Harris and Jane Miller

Juliet Harris (JH) and Jane Miller (JM) updated the Board on the work of the Interim Consortium and their feedback. Two papers were shared ahead of the meeting, one an update on the November meeting of the Interim Consortium and the ‘Top Tips for Working with Children and Young People’.

Last month’s update from the Interim Consortium focused on the Children’s Rights Action Plan and the four strategic priorities. JM highlighted the key themes that emerged from the discussion including the importance of engagement, advocacy, rights awareness and culture change. Children and young people were clear that action needs to take place once they have shared their views.

Based on what they said, key principles have been identified. These principles need to underpin the four strategic actions and considered at every stage of activity. Key principles for meaningfully participate with children and young people were summarised as follows:

  • respected: A culture shift is needed to ensure that the rights of children and young people are being respected in all aspects of their lives
  • informed: Children and young people need to know about the things that are happening to them in their lives
  • listened to: Children and young people need to have their views listened to and acted upon
  • supported: There needs to be greater awareness and training around children’s rights so adults can better respect, protect and fulfil them
  • protected: Children need to feel adults are protecting and upholding their rights across all of society

The next meeting of the Interim Consortium will focus on the clear goals that children and young people want to work towards.

There will be an additional meeting to focus on Theory of Change which children and young people can feed into in a really informed way. Together are also consulting with Partners about the possibility of extending the Interim Consortium until March. This includes understanding the financial support needed for children’s participation and staff time.

The Board was reminded about the paper that was shared on ‘Top Tips for Working with the Children’s Consortium’ and were asked to think about how to embed these in their practice. The Board were asked if they would feel comfortable sharing a video in advance of attending the Interim Consortium along the lines of ‘You Said – We Did’ as this would help to create a space where the children and young people felt empowered.

JH mentioned that currently MC and Lesley Sheppard (LS) were down to attend the next meeting, meaning there was space for another member of the Board to attend.

Action: JH asked MC if he could produce a video ahead of the next Interim Consortium meeting, by Monday 29 December.


Date for next meeting – the next meeting will take place in the new year. Once Scottish Government are ready to engage on way forward for addressing the Supreme Court judgment an extraordinary meeting will quickly be scheduled.

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