UNCRC Strategic Implementation Board minutes: September 2022

Attendees and apologies

Members of the board

  • Ashleigh Pitcairn on behalf of Kay McCorquodale, Scottish Courts and Tribunal Services
  • Ben Farrugia, Social Work Scotland
  • Chloe Riddell, The Promise
  • Claire Dobson on behalf of Gary Ritchie, Police Scotland
  • Clare Simpson, Parenting Across Scotland
  • Craig Morris, Care Inspectorate
  • Des Murray, SOLACE
  • Dragan Nastic, UNICEF
  • Gina Wilson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland (CYPCS)
  • Laura Caven, Coalition of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Laura Pasternak, Coalition of Care and Support Providers (CCPS)
  • Jennifer Davidson, Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures
  • Juliet Harris, Together Scotland
  • Michael Cameron, Scottish Housing Regulator
  • Norma Reuttimann, Care and Learning Alliance (CALA)

Scottish Government

  • Michael Chalmers (Chair), Director for Children and Families
  • Amy Kerr, SGLD
  • Andrew Preston, UNCRC Programme Assistant
  • Carola Eyber, UNCRC Capacity Building Manager
  • Dean Snape, UNCRC Project Manager
  • Kaylie Shaw, Policy Support Officer
  • Liz Levy, Joint Head of Children’s Rights Unit
  • Lyndsey Saki, Embedding Children’s Rights in Public Services Programme Lead
  • Paul Gorman, Empowered Children and Young People Programme Lead
  • Rachel Nicholson, SGLD
  • Shona Spence, UNCRC Bill Lead
  • Eilidh Walker (minutes), UNCRC Programme Assistant


  • Miriam McKenna, Improvement Service
  • Rebecca Spillane, Improvement Service


  • Angela Leitch, Public Health Scotland
  • David Wallace, Social Security Scotland
  • Donna MacLean, Healthcare Improvement Scotland
  • Kay McCorquodale, Scottish Courts and Tribunal Services
  • Gayle Gorman, Education Scotland
  • Lauren Sorrell, UNCRC Implementation Programme Lead
  • Nicola Hughes, Joint Head of Children’s Rights Unit
  • Tom McNamara, Deputy Director, Children’s Rights, Protection and Justice
  • Victoria Morton, SGLD

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies

Michael Chalmers (MC) welcomed the Board and noted apologies. MC welcomed Claire Dobson who was deputising for ACC Gary Ritchie, Police Scotland.

Minutes and actions from last meeting

Minutes from the meeting of 25 August 2022 were shared with members and no amendments have been requested.

There were seven actions from the meeting on 25 August 2022 and three carried over from previous meetings. Five have been completed and two are ongoing. They are as follows:

  • Nicola Hughes (NH) to come back to a future meeting to set out proposed eligibility criteria and scoring framework for the Innovation Fund
  • Programme Office to refresh paper on programme alignment with Theory of Change
  • Ashleigh Pitcairn (AP) to forward letter send from Lord President’s Private Office (LPPO) detailing what courts are doing to make processes as child friendly as possible
  • Juliet Harris (JH) to share developments from conversations with the Chief Economist and Director General Economy with board members
  • Chloe Riddell (CR) to speak to colleagues at The Promise about their recommendations to Ministers and provide an update

Liz Levy (LL) noted action two would not need to be delivered until well into 2023 as the SIB considered a paper on programme alignment at a recent meeting. It was agreed that this can be removed from the action tracker but added to the log of future agenda items as a reminder.

Action: Programme Office to ensure the forward planner is updated.

AP noted, in relation to action three, that although the Judicial Institute have mentioned in broad terms a training pack for the judiciary post Royal Assent, judicial training is a matter for the judiciary and the Judicial Institute. Action to be closed.

Action: Programme Office to update the action tracker.

JH noted the meeting with the Chief Economist and Director General Economy has been postponed to November so there would be no update on action four until that has taken place.

In relation to action five, Chloe Riddell (CR), noted that the deadline of the end of 2023 for recommendations to Scottish Ministers is the final aim, but if work is progressing faster, they may be in a position to report earlier. In addition, the intention of The Promise Scotland is to produce recommendations, which include a fully costed model to identify how to deliver this in practice and what resources will be required. Finally, as an interim measure, The Promise Scotland is working alongside the SG to share some of the mapping work that has already been undertaken so that children, families and care experienced adults and professionals are able to easily identify advocacy and support services that are available. CR noted she will keep the Board updated and is happy to answer any additional questions in writing.

UNCRC Programme Board update

JH noted that the minutes of the meeting on 25 August 2022 stated that SG are working toward including the UNCRC Booklet in the Baby Box in the future. JH asked how soon this would be. Together’s members also suggested the UNCRC Booklet be included in the Scottish Book Trust’s Bookbug bag.

Paul Gorman (PG) noted that that SG are exploring the inclusion of the UNCRC booklet in the Baby Box but that no firm commitment has been made. The decision was taken to delay the printed publication of the booklet until such time as the UNCRC Bill receives Royal Assent to ensure the information included on the Bill is up to date. However, a digital copy will be made available in time for International Children’s day in November.

JH noted Together members continued to stress the importance of including younger children in participation and that gaps have been identified in the inclusion of 8-14 year olds in participatory activities. Together members would like the national participation guidance to include younger children. PG noted that we are looking at ways to include guidance around participation for infants and younger children.

Action: PG will follow up with JH around inclusion of younger children in participation after the meeting.

JH asked what work is ongoing around mapping of advocacy services for children who aren’t care experienced e.g. children with disabilities. Ben Farrugia (BF) reiterated this, noting, that Social Work Scotland have flagged in a few recent consultation responses that the landscape is getting very confused, and with development of the National Care Service (and powers available to Ministers) could get even more so. He is concerned about the disconnect between child and adult systems. LP asked when SIB are likely to see the SG's advocacy mapping work and that her understanding was this mapping went beyond Care Experience.

PG clarified that the Children’s Rights Unit are in discussions with Promise colleagues to understand the reach of the external advocacy mapping work. 

Laura Pasternak (LP) asked if SG had an idea of timescales in relation to UK Government feedback on the proposed amendments to the UNCRC Bill?

In response to question about progress with the Bill, Liz Levy (LL) noted we are actively engaging with the UK Government but that Shona would provide more information on this during the next item.

LP asked for more information on the Innovation fund.

Action: Programme lead to provide an update within the minutes offering more information around the Innovation Fund.

Laura Caven (LC) asked for more information, specifically around communication of the transitional arrangements for reporting duties for public authorities from the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 to the UNCRC Bill and on how COSLA will be engaged on this.

Action: Programme lead to set up a meeting with COSLA to provide more information if needed.

Lyndsey Saki (LS) noted that the Coronavirus Extension provisions expire on 30 September 2022. A letter will be distributed to listed authorities in relation to this and will include details around communications going forward. At present, we are not able to clarify the timescales for new reporting duties under the Bill. However, reports covering the period April 2020 to March 2023 should be prepared in accordance with the reporting requirements of Part 1 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) 2014 Act, and will become due as soon as is practicable from 1st April 2023.

Action: LS and LC to discuss communications around transitional arrangements for reporting duties for public authorities.

Dragan Nastic (DN) noted UNICEF would be interested in seeing the training resources for the judiciary so that it can be used by other countries around the world. AP noted she would have to direct this to the Judicial Institute.

AP noted Scottish Civil Justice Council (SCJC) don’t have finalised court rules requests at present, explaining that the sooner they get these the more time they have to draft. AP noted mention of a six month timeframe for developing court rules, adding this would be the very minimum timeframe.

AP noted the Criminal Court Rules Committee (CCRC) are meeting in November and would appreciate anything to take to that meeting. In addition, AP requested an indication of time, noting the highlight report states the intention that rules requests will be sent after the Bill receives Royal Assent. AP asked if this will be the end of December or January?

LL noted our understanding that the Court Rules Council won’t formally consider a paper until the Bill is passed. However, the Children’s Rights Unit are engaging with the secretariat to the councils to share draft papers and received feedback to ensure that they are fit for purpose and ready to go to the councils as soon as the Bill secures Royal Assent, which we hope will be at the end of January.

Update on the Bill

UK Government engagement

SS advised that we continue to engage with the UK Government (UKG) and are now discussing the detail of the amendments. This engagement will, we hope, allow us to work through any issues that may still concern the UKG in advance of the Bill being returned to Parliament.

We are also engaging with the Parliament to determine whether proposed amendments to the Bill are admissible at Reconsideration Stage. Standing Orders limit the nature of amendment that can be made during Reconsideration Stage, Parliament is therefore limited to considering amendments that address the judgment of the Supreme Court.

Once Ministers are content with final amendments a motion will be lodged with Parliament asking for the Bill to be reconsidered at a reconsideration stage debate. If Parliament passes a motion to proceed, the amendments will then be shared with Committee and shared on the Committee’s page of the website.

We are still on track to have the reconsidered Bill passed before the end of the calendar year, but that will depend on whether the relevant Committees would like to schedule time to scrutinise the amendments.

JH noted that she had hoped the motion would be introduced by 6 October 2022 as that marks a year since the Supreme Court judgement and questioned whether this would be the case.

SS noted that had been our hope but due to the passing of Her Majesty The Queen and suspension of parliament timescales have had to be readjusted.

CR asked whether the motion will still be put forward even if the UK Government hasn’t given absolute confirmation they have no concerns?

MC noted that we won’t necessarily get a firm confirmation from the UKG. LL added that if the UK Government do indicate they have comments and need more time to provide those, we’d be unlikely to proceed until those are received and considered.

Improvement Service

MC welcomed Miriam McKenna and Rebecca Spillane (RS) from the Improvement Service to present on the UNCRC Implementation Project and the current approach and future ambitions for children’s rights within local government.

RS provided a presentation including information on leadership commitment to children’s rights within local authorities; action to progress children’s rights locally; the alignment of agendas between children’s and human rights; concerns raised by local authorities in implementing a child rights-based approach; local authority ambitions for implementing a child rights-based approach and an outline of help and support requested by local authorities.

DN noted that many of the concerns being raised by local authorities are being addressed by ongoing work, for example, children’s rights budgeting. DN noted RS may be interested in UNICEF’s Child Friendly Cities programme as a model of implementation used across the world.

Draft evaluation and monitoring strategy for UNCRC implementation

LL introduced a paper that makes some proposals about how we deliver our commitment to monitor and evaluate the UNCRC Implementation Programme and do so in a way that is manageable and sustainable for those supporting the delivery of the new duties. As well as considering the burden on public authorities, the paper also reflected on what would allow us to draw meaningful conclusions and point us towards clear actions.

The paper outlines five possible components to a monitoring and evaluation framework:

Checking that children’s rights are being met by developing child rights indicators to monitor UNCRC implementation

The paper included the results of an initial mapping exercise that was undertaken by our analysts to identify existing sources of data that might be used to assess the extent to which each of the articles are being realised in Scotland. LL highlighted that there are not precise measures of the rights in the articles and that there are inevitable data gaps.  The paper argues that to develop a comprehensive and meaningful set of indicators would require too many new national data collections to make this feasible, affordable and manageable to public authorities and our partners. It suggests we focus of the development of any indicators to monitor progress on the rights that we know need most attention.

Identify where there are recurring rights breaches that require changes to policy or practice

Our intention is to work with our strong children's rights sector to identify children’s rights issues that need attention - those where we know there are recurring rights breaches.  In addition to engaging with these key organisations we could also:

  • ensure that there's regular engagement with organisations that represent children and young people who are likely to be furthest away from their rights
  • pay close attention to the UN Committee’s Concluding Observations
  • explore if and how we could use data on complaints that are escalated to the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman and data on cases pursued by specialist child law centres to find out if there are recurring themes
  • use our regular engagement with public authorities and sample their statutory reports to identify any compatibility issues that are highlighted there

Assessing the extent to which embedding children’s rights has improved outcomes for children and young people

The paper points out that, with the range of other significant policy developments that impact on children and young people, it would be impossible to assess the extent to which embedding children’s rights alone has improved long term outcomes for CYP. It suggests looking for evidence of improvement in outcomes through existing indicators (e.g. Core Wellbeing Indicator Set in the Children, Young People and Families Outcomes Framework) designed to measure the combined impact of our policies.

Checking that the drivers of change for embedding a children’s rights-based approach are in place in Scotland

The paper recommends that, with relevant partners, we develop evidence that will allow us to assess whether we have in place each of the drivers of change identified in the Theory of Change for Making Rights Real.

Case studies of policy making and/or practice development

This could be used to explore the extent to which children's rights are being considered in policy making and driving decisions. This would allow us to identify good practice and barriers to implementing the UNCRC and make recommendations for improvement.

LL invited initial reactions at the meeting and further written comments after the meeting.

Clare Simpson noted that where children are furthest from their rights, it is often parents who will be advocating for them and therefore it is important to take into account the views of parents and carers in developing this strategy.

JH noted the importance of measuring the extent to which children’s rights are realised and that wellbeing measures don’t capture this. She also agreed that establishing that we have the necessary structures and processes in place is key.

LP noted that we need to think about ways to stratify data to identify where in Scotland children’s rights are being met. It is important to look at local and national drivers and ensure that data is informing ambition and action setting objectives.

The group welcomed the return of this item at a future meeting and asked for a timeline to provide responses to the monitoring and evaluation paper in writing. A 2-week deadline was agreed.

Any other business

MC noted that UNICEF and the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) will present at the next meeting on the work they are undertaking to support UNCRC implementation.

The next meeting is on Tuesday 25 October 2022 from 15:30 to 17:00.

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