Skills and Knowledge Framework

a paper with a wrench and two connected dots

About the Framework

Page Contents

Purpose of the Framework

The Scottish Government is giving children’s rights the highest possible protection in Scotland by incorporating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into Scottish law via the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Act 2024. Children’s rights are already central to law and policy in Scotland and progressing them is a key part of the roles of many workers. Incorporation of the UNCRC means there is a legal duty on public authorities (this includes organisations that are performing “functions of a public nature”) not to act in ways that are incompatible with the UNCRC requirements. This includes failures to act that would result in incompatibility with the UNCRC requirements. This means action could be taken by a court against a public authority in respect of a breach of its duties if it acts in incompatible ways when the duty applies.  

This Framework (and its Training Plan) are important tools for implementing the UNCRC and fostering the necessary culture changes to fully respect, protect and fulfil rights for children and young people in Scotland. It has been developed to improve and consolidate the workforce’s understanding of children’s rights and increase their confidence to implement the UNCRC in their everyday work. It sets out the essential skills and knowledge the workforce will need to grow their children’s rights practice and use a progressive approach, so that workers can start with the basics and gradually reach new levels of understanding. It includes useful resources for workers to engage with to further develop their skills and knowledge.  

The Framework was developed in partnership with two panels, comprising over 20 workers and 12 families from across Scotland. The skills and knowledge statements have been created and prioritised with both the workers and the children and families. They are inspired by the principles of a Children’s Rights Approach from the Observatory on Human Rights of Children Wales and informed by the General Comments of UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The quotes throughout the Framework are direct quotes from children between the ages of 3 and 17.  

The Framework is for the whole public authority workforce across Scotland. Some people, such as teachers and health workers, work more closely with children and young people. However, to recognise the breadth of people who make a difference to the lives of children, young people and their families, this Framework uses the term workers in the widest sense. It includes anyone who works for a public authority or for an organisation commissioned by the public authority to deliver a public service on its behalf. Respecting, protecting and fulfilling children’s rights is the responsibility of all these workers. 

Why children’s human rights are important

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Human rights exist to ensure that people are treated fairly and with dignity, and are given the freedom to develop their full potential. Human rights are a list of things that everyone, including children and young people, needs to live a healthy, happy and safe life. Children and young people have the same human rights as adults, and, have special rights that recognise their need for additional protections. 

These specific human rights for children and young people are set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The UNCRC helps to safeguard the dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all children and young people. 

For all children and young people in Scotland to live a healthy, happy and safe life, everyone has a responsibility to ensure every child or young person is treated with dignity. This means that: 

Children and young people should be “fully prepared to live an individual life in society, and brought up in the spirit of the ideals proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, and in particular in the spirit of peace, dignity, tolerance, freedom, equality and solidarity.”UNCRC Preamble 

The Framework and Training Plan will support individuals and organisations to adopt a children’s human rights approach. The term ‘a children’s human rights approach’ is used to emphasise that children’s rights are human rights, and to highlight that children and young people have broader human rights as well as those specific to children. 

Children’s rights are already a key part of law and policy in Scotland (for example, the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014) and the UNCRC is central to the roles of people working across public authorities in Scotland. It is therefore also important to reflect on the connections between children’s rights and wider policies, frameworks and duties. This will include, for example, Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) (1); Keeping the Promise Implementation Plan (2); the Fairer Scotland Duty (3); and the National Performance Framework (4). 

Section 6 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation)(Scotland) Act 2024 places a new duty on public authorities not to act in ways that are incompatible with the ‘UNCRC requirements’ as defined by section 1 of the Act. The adoption and implementation of a children’s human rights approach by public authorities, and their workforce, will support workers in preparing for these new duties. 

Framework Approach

The Framework is designed to be used by individual members of the Scottish public authority workforce, and by organisations planning learning and training activities. It aims to build the capacity of the workforce to use a children’s human rights approach alongside the associated Training Plan. Public authorities, and organisations commissioned by public authorities to deliver public services, should use the Framework and Training Plan alongside the non-statutory guidance On taking a children’s human rights approach (5). It takes a flexible and progressive approach. 


The Framework acknowledges that every learner is unique in how they like to learn. Workers all have different aims when they learn, and what they need to know will vary in each role or context. Everyone comes to the Framework with individual and varied experiences. 


The aim of the Framework is to help workers to grow and improve their practice over time. It is designed to be used at inductions and annual appraisals, to help with specific tasks, and to guide continuing professional learning and development plans. 

It also acknowledges the need for a progressive, cumulative, approach to using rights in our everyday work. Progressive realisation means rights are increasingly fulfilled over time. Learning about rights is a continuous journey. It is not a one off or tick box exercise. 

How to use the Framework ​

The Framework’s Skills and Knowledge requirements are presented at three levels: Informed; Skilled; and Enhanced. Those with no knowledge of the UNCRC should first work through the introductory materials independently. Each level describes the skills and knowledge needed to reach those levels. All workers should aim to reach at least the Informed level. Workers who work directly with children and young people or have a direct impact on their lives should aim to reach the Skilled level in areas relevant to their work. Reaching the Enhanced level is for those who want to further develop their children’s rights practice from the Skilled level. Workers who have additional responsibilities, such as providing support for others, should also aim for the Enhanced level in areas relevant to their work. 

Everyone should start at the Informed level after they have accessed the introductory materials to gain a foundational understanding of the UNCRC, and then progress over time through the levels. The Framework will support workers to take a progressive approach to their rights learning journey as part of their ongoing development. 

Some skills and knowledge elements have been tagged as #Leadership. Not everyone has high level decision making powers, the #Leadership tag will be relevant to workers who manage people, budgets, policy, planning or commissioning. Workers who do not have these responsibilities can still look to gain those skills or knowledge, but they are unlikely to be able to apply them in their current role. 

Children’s voices and experiences are at the heart of a children’s human rights approach. The development of the Child Rights Skills and Knowledge Framework embodied the children’s human rights approach by involving children, young people and families at every stage. 

learn childrens rights! made of clay
learn childrens rights! made of clay
two paper figures
two paper figures, artwork by the Children and Families Panel


In this Framework, the term children and young people is used to refer to all people under the age of 18. Infants is used when there is a specific need to refer to very young children. 

Throughout the Framework, people involved in public service delivery in Scotland are referred to as the workforce or workers, and organisations who we wish to support to take a children’s human rights approach are referred to as public authorities. It is important to note that, in line with section 6 of the UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill, this includes those who are commissioned to deliver public services by public authorities.   

Further definitions including the definition of public authority contained in the UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Act 2024 can be found in the Glossary in Annex A.

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