Attendees and apologies
Attendees, Scottish Government
- Liz Levy (Chair), Joint Head of Children’s Rights Unit
- Amy Kerr, SGLD
- Caroline McMenemy, Senior Policy Officer
- Dean Snape, UNCRC Project Manager
- Kaylie Shaw, Policy Support Officer
- Lyndsey Saki, Embedding Children’s Rights in Public Services Programme Lead
- Michael Chalmers, Director for Children and Families
- Nicola Hughes, Joint Head of Children’s Rights Unit
- Paul Gorman, Empowered Children and Young People Lead
- Shona Spence, UNCRC Bill Lead
- Eilidh Walker (minutes), UNCRC Programme Assistant
Attendees, members of the Board
- Ben Farrugia, Social Work Scotland
- Claire Dobson on behalf of Gary Ritchie, Police Scotland
- Des Murray, SOLACE
- Dragan Nastic, UNICEF
- Gina Wilson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland (CYPCS)
- Juliet Harris, Together Scotland
- Katy Kelman on behalf of Kay McCorquodale, Scottish Courts and Tribunal Services (SCTS)
- Kay Tisdall on behalf of Jennifer Davidson, Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures
- Laura Caven, Coalition of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
- Laura Pasternak, Coalition of Care and Support Providers (CCPS)
- Michael Cameron, Scottish Housing Regulator
- Richmond Davies on behalf of Angela Leitch, Public Health Scotland
- Andrew Preston, UNCRC Programme Assistant
- Angela Leitch, Public Health Scotland
- Chloe Riddell, The Promise
- Clare Simpson, Parenting Across Scotland
- Craig Morris, Care Inspectorate
- David Wallace, Social Security Scotland
- Donna Maclean, Healthcare Improvement Scotland
- Gary Ritchie, Police Scotland
- Gayle Gorman, Education Scotland
- Gayle Devlin, Social Security Scotland
- Jennifer Davidson, Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures
- Kay McCorquodale, Scottish Courts and Tribunal Services
- Lauren Sorrell, UNCRC Implementation Programme Lead
- Norma Reuttimann, Care and Learning Alliance (CALA)
- Tom McNamara, Deputy Director, Children’s Rights, Protection and Justice
- Andrew Sheridan, Scottish Public Services Ombudsmen (SPSO)
- Josh Barnham, SPSO
- Rosemary Agnew, SPSO
- Frances Bestley, UNICEF
- Gerry McMurtie, UNICEF
- Jo Laycock, UNICEF
- Lucinda Rivers, UNICEF
Items and actions
Welcome and apologies
Liz Levy (LL), standing in for Michael Chalmers as Chair, welcomed the Board and noted apologies. LL welcomed Claire Dobson, joining on behalf of Gary Ritchie for Police Scotland and Kay Tisdall, joining on behalf of Jennifer Davidson from the Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures.
Minutes and actions from last meeting
Minutes from the meeting of 27 September 2022 were shared with members on 5 October 2022 and no amendments have been requested. Dean Snape (DS) noted that a request had been received for an amendment to the minutes for the meeting of 25 August 2022, which had been actioned and the minutes reissued.
There were four actions from the meeting on 27 September 2022, which have been completed, and one outstanding from the meeting on 25 August 2022. They are as follows:
- Programme Office to ensure the forward planner is updated
- Paul Gorman (PG) to follow up with Juliet Harris (JH) around inclusion of younger children in participation after the meeting
- Lyndsey Saki (LS) to provide an update within the minutes offering more information around the Innovation Fund
- LS and Laura Caven (LC) to discuss communications around transitional arrangement for reporting duties for public authorities
- JH to share developments from conversations with the Chief Economist and Director General Economy with the SIB once the meeting has taken place in November
LL noted that we have already received five responses in relation to the Monitoring and Evaluation Framework. JH noted in the chat function that Together’s feedback is still outstanding and will be submitted by Thursday 27 October 2022. LL requested that others whose feedback is outstanding submit this by Thursday 27 October 2022.
LL asked that comments in relation to the highlight report be submitted in the chat function and shall be replied to by correspondence within a week.
Following discussion under item three of the minutes of 27 September 2022, Kay Tisdall (KT) asked for an update on how the Participation Guidance will include advice on engaging with younger children.
PG noted a meeting is taking place next week around this work and agreed to share the invitation and follow up with KT by email. JH noted the meeting is between Together members who work with younger children, Chair of the Infant Mental Health Implementation and Advisory Group and a representative of the Parent-Infant Mental Health Service. The meeting was set up following an introduction from PG to discuss the resources they have developed for early years and their relevance to the Participation Guidance. The meeting will take place from 10.30 to 11.15 on Tuesday 1 November 2022.
Action: Paul Gorman to send invitation to the meeting on Tuesday 1 November 2022 to Kay Tisdall and follow up on her ask around participation of children and young people (CYP) by email.
Update on the Bill
LL invited Shona Spence (SS) to provide an update on the progress of the UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill (the Bill).
SS noted that we are continuing to engage with the Scottish Parliament over the admissibility of the amendments and with the UK Government (UKG) to reduce the risk of another referral to the Supreme Court. In relation to engagement with Parliament, it was noted that Parliament are looking carefully at the Standing Orders and are considering whether the amendments are in scope. There is still ongoing conversation as this is the first Reconsideration stage but we expect to hear from them soon. The UKG are asking appropriate questions in relation to the approach being taken to amending the Bill and we will continue to engage with them. At this stage we do not know if they are broadly in support or not but they are actively considering the amendments. We therefore have no timeline as yet, everything is being done that can be in the meantime to prepare in the event that they respond favourably. It was also noted that the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) are preparing a leaflet in relation to the Reconsideration Stage itself and we plan to get a child-friendly version of this ready too.
Dragan Nastic agreed that that it was essential to make adequate time for engagement with the UK Government. Ben Farrugia (BF) also noted engagement with the UKG is essential. He requested an update on what plans are in place with respect to ministerial engagement to ensure UKG engage, to enable us to proceed. SS noted SG were reassured as they came back constructively. LL added that the nature of the engagement is narrowly focussed on legislative competence and that the engagement is currently with legal advisors rather than at official or ministerial level.
Gina Wilson (GW) asked if there is a parallel planning process, should the proposed reconsideration process not be agreed by Parliament. LL noted we are fairly confident that the amendments we have proposed will address legislative competence. We don’t have another approach at present. We know from our targeted stakeholder engagement on the proposed fixes, that reconsideration stage is the approach stakeholders want us to pursue.
Support for commencement
LL invited Nicola Hughes (NH) to provide an update on plans for support offered to public authorities as we approach commencement of the Bill. NH explained support for public services has largely focused on producing materials which will have a universal application. For example, the suites of introductory and statutory guidance, the Skills and Knowledge Framework and the Innovation Fund. In some instances this has included more specific or tailored support: such as for Local Authorities (LAs) through our work with the Improvement Service; our work to support child-friendly complaints through work being progressed by SPSO; education through our support of UNICEF and their RRSA programme; and a range of other, smaller initiatives such as the animated guidance and quarterly newsletter.
NH noted that during the course of delivering this support, there has been a call from public services for more tailored support to work in collaboration to address potential issues of incompatibility. NH noted we are keen to understand member’s views on what additional, potentially more targeted and intelligence led support could look like in that regard.
NH explained early conversations with some stakeholders suggest a need to ensure we get key messages, audiences, and the sequencing of inputs right to avoid confusion and unnecessary challenges. NH stressed the importance of this work being viewed accurately, and that any potential issues discussed cannot be viewed as absolute incompatibilities, as that is for a court to decide. There is great enthusiasm for showing collective leadership across sectors to improve practice, where possible, and to work together more effectively to ensure we’re giving the fullest regards to the rights of children – the key will be timing and getting expert support on board.
NH welcomed members views on the work to enable arrangements to be put in place to further scope and define what might be possible, saying it will be important to ask ourselves the following questions:
- which sectors should we prioritise?
- what is the key messaging and sequencing of that to take account of the Bill and commencement?
- how do we frame potential issues of incompatibility?
- what support would be needed to provide a collective and collaborate approach to working together to address these issues?
- what role could children, their families and representatives safely play in this work?
Feedback from the group was positive. Notes of interest and offers of support were offered from Together, the Observatory, UNICEF, Social Work Scotland, the CYCPS, Police Scotland, the CCPS and Who Cares? Scotland.
JH noted that Together welcome this work and are keen to be involved, particularly around legislative incompatibilities. Once legislation is addressed, the Children’s Rights Scheme is the way to identify ongoing incompatibilities in practice.
KT offered that a University being involved may provide a neutral space for conversation and would be pleased to consider this further as plans progress.
Dragan Nastic (DN) welcomed the work and suggested either UNICEF UK or Global provide support depending on the topic. For example, UNICEF Global have an expert on children’s rights budgeting so this individual could be involved. DN asked that UNICEF be kept informed.
BF noted his interest around areas of acute incompatibility and also stressed the importance of addressing challenges strategically, and how that may involve difficult conversations around prioritisation of issues, e.g., concentrating on issues which affect large groups of children or concentrating on issues which have an acute impact on a small group of children. BF would be keen to be involved in giving further thoughts to this work.
Laura Pasternak (LP) offered support around how these requirements will be tailored for the third sector, and particularly what guidance will be developed for third sector, and offered to pick up with NH separately.
NH thanked the group for their support, particularly noting interest in the concept of having a neutral space, as suggested by KT. NH will pick this up with KT and colleagues.
Action: Nicola Hughes to speak with Kay Tisdall around utilising University support to provide a neutral space for conversations around support for commencement.
NH noted she will be in touch with members within the week beginning 31 October to begin conversations and will bring this item back to the Board at a later date.
Action: Nicola Hughes to contact members around plans for support for commencement in the week beginning 31 October.
Action: Eilidh Walker to add support for commencement to the forward tracker.
LL welcomed Lucinda Rivers (LR), Frances Bestley (FB), Gerry McMurtie (GM) and Jo Maycock (JM) from UNICEF to present on their work to support the UNCRC Implementation Programme.
Rights Respecting Schools Award (RRSA)
FB outlined the three strands to the child rights education section of the RRSA programme. These are teaching and learning about rights; teaching and learning through rights and teaching and learning for rights (emphasis added).
FB spoke to the objectives of the funding UNICEF receives from SG for the RRSA programme and outlined UNICEF’s plan for use of the funding. GM noted that the RRSA programme had 307 new registrations since 24 May, meaning 67% of all schools registered in Scotland are involved – this includes both primary and secondary. There are five LAs without an RRSA strategic lead, however, there are schools in all LAs signed up to the programme. UNICEF are working to ensure there is a RRSA strategic lead in each of the 32 LAs.
Child Friendly Cities (CFC)
The seven principles of a child rights-based approach are dignity, participation, life, survival and development, non-discrimination, transparency and accountability, best interests and interdependence and indivisibility. JM noted the CFC initiative works to grow child rights knowledge, expertise capacity and culture; develop a local child rights-based strategy and deliver meaningful change with positive outcomes for CYP. The CFC has six badges: co-operation and leadership, child-friendly services, communication, participating, culture and place.
GW asked in the chat function if UNICEF has adapted RRSA and CFC for Scotland and whether there were plans to if not, given the binding nature of the UNCRC post incorporation.
FB responded that RRSA is flexible so UNICEF will continue to adapt the programme as required given incorporation. She is looking forward to seeing the work being developed for schools around redress as that is something they know they could strengthen. Scottish schools make up about a third of the total schools registered in the UK, UNICEF are also being funded by SG so they need to have something that works for Scotland. Her hope would also be that we can strengthen our outcomes for all schools too so Scotland would be leading the way.
JH thanked FB for her response on this, noting, it is definitely a question that comes from Together members as well – making sure there's real information for teachers about the binding nature of rights post incorporation and the need for children and parents to know what they can do to seek remedy and redress if rights are breached
GM shared a link for more information on the RRSA with the group.
LL welcomed Josh Barnham (JB), Andrew Sheridan (AS) and Rosemary Agnew (RA) from SPSO to present on their work to support the UNCRC implementation programme.
RA began the presentation with an overview of the powers and duties to set complaints handling standards within her jurisdiction. She noted that child-friendly complaints is an approach rather than a process, focussing on rights to family life and CYP’s rights to have their opinions heard. SG are funding SPSO to develop resources and training specifically relating to child-complaints handling.
JB provided an overview of the project aim which includes co-design to implement a public sector complaints service that meets children’s rights and needs, working in co-operation with CYP, public bodies and wider stakeholders. He spoke to the key engagement topics of reassurance and confidence building (i.e., the fear that CYP have in complaints processes) – to give children the confidence and comfort to complaints, channels of communication; formality, timescales, advocacy, assessment of capacity, balancing rights and consent of parents
JB outlined the current timeline of the project. Final testing will take place over the coming weeks which will be followed by a formal public consultation. The publication of the process will happen in early 2023 year with a soft launch in April 2023.
KT noted the General Comments on Article 12 and early childhood respectively were very helpful in outlining children’s capacity. For example, "A child should be presumed to have the capacity to form his or her own view… it is not up to the child to first prove his or her capacity” quoted from paragraph 20, the importance of providing information to support a child to form a view.
DN asked for more information about SPSO’s collaboration with the Children's Commissioner in developing the resources for complaints handling but also, more generally, the "division of labour" and their respective roles in supporting children. AS noted SPSO are in contact with the Children’s Commissioner who have been and will be key in the discussions about the resources, language and roll out of the child-friendly complaints project. GW noted the Children’s Commissioner isn’t an Ombudsmen, which is an important distinction to make. There isn’t a ‘function overlap’ between both parties on complaints.
LC noted COSLA had a recent discussion with ADES around this work. ADES are keen to engage with SPSO given school level and LA level arrangements. LC suggested arranging a meeting between COSLA, ADES and SPSO. AS said he would be happily involved in the work.
Action: Laura Caven and Andrew Sheridan to arrange a meeting between COSLA, ADES and SPSO around the child-friendly complaints project.
LP noted in the chat function that she is keen to see if SPSO are considering advocacy using an independent advocacy framework, which should always be relationships-based. She agreed with KT’s suggestions around capacity and General Comment 12, also thinking about disabled children and considering how to provide support so they can exercise capacity on an equal basis to non-disabled children, in order to uphold the PSED as well as UNCRC and CRPD.
RA agreed to share the presentation with members and noted she is happy to take questions in writing.
Action: Eilidh Walker to share SPSO presentation with the minutes after the meeting.
Any other business
LL updated the group on interim plans for communications for World Children’s Day (WCD). LL indicated that we will not be publishing a Progress Report on the Action Plan but will be publishing the Scottish Position Statement to coincide with World Children’s Day. This will include our responses to a list of issues the UN Committee has submitted to the UK as a whole. LL noted the revised Bill will not be debated and passed by WCD, stating that it may be possible to have the motion and amendments to the Bill published by this date but this depends on when we hear back from Parliament on admissibility and from the UK Government.
The Parent, Carers and Families booklet will be launched online and then updated into paper form once the Bill is passed. Young Scot is also running a co-created comms plan and we are scoping the possibility of publishing a blog post every week day in the week leading to WCD. We will update SIB on these plans by correspondence.
DN asked whether SG will be sending their position statement to the UN Committee in Geneva? LL noted she was unaware of this opportunity and will follow up with Agnes Rennick who leads on the work around the position statement.
Action: Liz Levy to speak to Agnes Rennick about submitting the Scottish Position Statement to the UN Committee in Geneva.
The Children’s Parliament will present at the next meeting on the work they are undertaking to support UNCRC implementation.
The next meeting is on Tuesday 22 November 15:30 to 17:00 PM.
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