UNCRC Strategic Implementation Board minutes: 28 October 2021

Minutes from the UNCRC Strategic Implementation Board meeting on 28 October 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Michael Chalmers, Director for Children and Families, Scottish Government
  • Michael Cameron, Scottish Housing Regulator
  • Jennifer Davidson, Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures
  • Gayle Gorman, Education Scotland
  • Louise Halpin, Human Rights Bill Team Leader in Scottish Government
  • Juliet Harris, Together
  • Louise Hunter, CCPS
  • Donna McLean, Healthcare Improvement Scotland
  • Fi McFarlane, The Promise
  • Craig Morris, Care Inspectorate
  • Dragan Nastic, UNICEF
  • Lesley Sheppard, Deputy Director for Children’s Rights, Protection and Justice, Scottish Government
  • Clare Simpson, Parenting Across Scotland
  • Gina Wilson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland

Other attendees

  • Teja Bapuram, UNCRC Programme Manager, Children’s Rights Unit, Scottish Government
  • Luis Felipe, Scottish Human Rights Commission
  • Amy Haron, Joint Head of Children’s Rights Unit, Scottish Government
  • Gavin Henderson, The Promise
  • Nicola Hughes, Programme Lead – Embedding Children’s Rights in Public Services, Scottish Government
  • Maxine Jolly, Education Scotland
  • Katy Kelman, Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service
  • Anne Lee, Public Health Scotland
  • Natalie Nixon, UNCRC Programme Officer - Minute Taker
  • Andrew Preston, UNCRC Programme Assistant
  • Gary Ritchie, Police Scotland
  • Lauren Sorrell, UNCRC Programme Lead, Scottish Government


  • Kavita Chetty, Scottish Human Rights Commission (Luis Felipe deputising)
  • Jaci Douglas, CALA Childcare
  • Eddie Follan, CoSLA
  • Ben Farrugia, Social Work Scotland
  • Will Kerr, Police Scotland (Gary Ritchie deputising)
  • Angela Leitch, Public Health Scotland (Anne Lee deputising)
  • Kay McCorquodale, Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service (Katy Kelman deputising)
  • Grace Vickers, SOLACE
  • David Wallace, Social Security Scotland

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies

Michael Chalmers, Chair, welcomed everyone to the fifth meeting of the Strategic Implementation Board, especially new attendees and guests.

Minutes and actions from 30 september 2021

Michael invited comments on the 30 September minutes shared ahead of the meeting.


  • Michael invited Board members to provide any comments by contacting the Board secretariat

Michael gave an update on the action point from the last meeting. Helen Fogarty and Nicola Hughes were to share a paper ahead of this meeting (paper six). This was shared with the Board ahead of today’s meeting and Michael informed Board that this would be discussed in item seven.

Supreme court judgement

Lesley provided an update to the Board on the 6 October Supreme Court judgment.

Lesley informed the Board that the Supreme Court judgement became public on the 6 October 2021. This found that specific parts of the UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill were outwith the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament.

Since then there has been very detailed scrutiny across the Scottish Government on what this means and what should be the appropriate response to the Supreme Court judgment.

Preliminary advice has gone to Minister’s who are considering the options. We are planning for a short period of targeted stakeholder engagement, including engagement with children and young people in the coming weeks.

Update and feedback from the interim consortium, Juliet Harris, Together

Michael introduced Juliet to give a further update on the interim consortium, following on from the progress update provided at the September meeting of the SIB.

Juliet’s update spoke to and expanded upon a paper previously circulated to members (27 October) and is attached as paper four.

Juliet informed the Board that Together has recruited six partner organisations for the Interim Consortium.

The first meeting of the Interim Consortium was attended by 10 young people, Michael Chalmers, Gina Wilson from the Office of the Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland and Craig Morris from the Care Inspectorate. As this was the first time the group came together, the priority was to set up a safe online space for the group. There was a group agreement that everyone listens to each other, take a team approach, keep language informal and avoid acronyms.

A discussion on some key issues that were important for children and young people showed:

  • a strong focus on equality and the need to support all children and young people to achieve their potential
  • the need for adults to understand children and young people's rights

With regards to strategy, the children and young people attending spoke about:

  • the importance of advocacy, to have their rights respected and to be able to claim them
  • the ‘Empowered children and young people’ workstream, for this to work adults would need to understood the rights of children and young people
  • that we need to do further work to address issues such as racism, climate change and child poverty

Juliet discussed how best to ensure really effective communication between the CYP and the Board. Juliet asked how the Board will work with the consortium to make sure children and young people’s views are being brought back?

It was suggested that focusing on a single issue, may be a good way to test the relationship between the CYP and the Board. This would also be a good way for children and young people to see actions from their input.

It was also suggested that SIB members attend the consortium meetings based on the agenda for those meetings, with consideration given to which members had a close connection to topics being discussed. Michael agreed that this would be a good way to make sure the discussions were most effective.


  • to have about three to four SIB members attend next Interim Consortium meeting – 11 November 2021

  •  Jane from Together and Paul from Scottish Government to work together to ensure an ongoing strategic relationship between SIB members and the children and young people at the consortium

  • SIB members and Consortium to explore how best to communicate developments from respective meetings (for example video updates, briefings etc)

Member’s reflections

Michael invited Maxine Jolly from Education Scotland and Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie from Police Scotland to present to the Board on how they are getting ready for UNCRC incorporation.

Michael asked the both to cover the following questions:

  • what preparations and activities is your organisation doing
  • how is that going
  • what are the challenges

Maxine Jolly presented on the work Education Scotland is undertaking to ensure readiness. She discussed both the internal and external preparations.

With regards to internal preparations, some aspects of this work are:

  • a Children’s Rights and Participation Strategy
  • UNCRC Champions Group, this will look at aspects such as how to produce a good Children’s Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment
  • internal professional learning sessions, these will focus on what the UNCRC means for professionals in their roles and how to weave the UNCRC throughout the curriculum
  • the inclusion of UNCRC objectives to Personal Learning Plans and appraisals

Some of the external activities are:

  • professional learning sessions, including introduction to the UNCRC sessions for parent groups
  • large scale engagement with teachers, head teachers and local authority leads
  • setting up a subgroup of the Curriculum and Assessment Board, this is to review the Curriculum for Excellence with regards to upholding the UNCRC
  • a Young Leaders of Learning Programme; this will allow young people from age 8 can get involved in improving their schools

Maxine highlighted some things that are going well, such as:

  • colleagues having a much stronger understanding of the UNCRC more likely to link it to their own work
  • greater confidence to engage with children and young people and seek their views
  • high attendance in the professional learning sessions, with positive course evaluations
  • the ability to make good connections and network
  • all Regional Improvement Collaboratives (RICs) identified the UNCRC as an area for action

Some of the challenges highlighted were:

  • the need for greater awareness about how the UNCRC can and should underpin all work with children and about what a rights-based approach is
  • often rights are discussed in terms of ‘rights and responsibilities’ rather than being understood as inalienable and unconditional
  • a need for strategic planning for children’s input and participation; this will require time to plan

Gary Ritchie presented on the work Police Scotland have been doing around COP26 including:

  • undertaking Children’s Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessments
  • engagement with youth groups before and throughout the event to ensure the voices of children and young people are heard

Gary said that Police Scotland are currently considering what an evaluation strategy may look like. This will be fed back to the Board at a future date.


  • CoSLA will provide an update at a future meeting

Michael Chalmers had to leave the meeting and the Chair was taken by Lesley Sheppard.

The Promise

Lesley Sheppard invited Gavin Henderson to provide an introductory update on The Promise.

The Promise is a ten year implementation plan to make changes to the care system and look at how the system will support people in the future. Gavin explained that The Promise was the report from the Independent Care Review that ran from 2017 until early 2020.

The Promise has set out an initial three-year outcome based plan for 2021 to 2024 of changes that need to happen. The expectation is that this will continue for the following and final three year period. Some announcements are being made about changes needed such as:

  • reducing the number of children and young people in care, supporting them to stay at home where possible
  • creating advocacy services for children and young people, and their adults, this should provide the resources and information to ensure their rights are enforceable
  • a redesign of the hearing system so that it works better for children and young people

The Scottish Government’s ambition is to set out plans for The Promise up to 2030 in 2022. There will be engagement on UNCRC for this. Questions from the Board will be welcome.

UNCRC implementation update

Lesley provided an update on UNCRC implementation through the sharing of some papers:

  • UNCRC Implementation Highlight Report (paper five)
  • budget and resourcing (paper six)

Lesley asked whether sharing the Highlight Report in advance was helpful for Board members. This would allow general UNCRC updates to shared ahead of time, leaving the meetings for discussion.

There was some discussion from the Board on paper five on:

  • an ask for the interim consortium to be engaged on the Skills and Knowledge Framework, Nicola Hughes agreed to follow-up with Juliet
  • query on whether the Children’s Commissioner was involved in the SPSO project to develop a child-friendly complaints process, Gina from the Children’s Commissioner’s office confirmed discussions were ongoing

Lesley informed the Board that the Scottish Government would be publishing some documents for World Children’s Day on the 19th November. This will include:

  • our three-yearly Children’s Rights Report and Action Plan, this is part of our reporting duties under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014
  • refreshed Children’s Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment guidance
  • introductory, non-statutory guidance on the UNCRC
  • it is possible that partnership support for the Programme will be announced on this date as well

Some comments from the Board on paper six were:

  • that it would have been good to see parental awareness and engagement included in this, Nicola confirmed that this is a priority area, Lesley said that there are plans for awareness raising campaigns, the questions are currently around how to get this right and when to do it
  • it is worth considering how to involve young people in budget decisions
  • it is great that rights awareness is being funded but it is worth considering what to do when rights are breached


Lesley asked Jules what would be the most effective way for the Board to feedback to children and young people.


  • SIB members and Consortium to explore how best to communicate developments from respective meetings (for example video updates, briefings etc)

Dragan reminded the Board of the Rights of the Child UK event taking place on the 3 November, ‘Incorporation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child - Lessons from Scotland’.


  • details of this event to be shared with Board

Lesley thanked everyone for their attendance and reminded Board that the next meeting would be on Thursday 25 November.

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