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Childhood and Youth Studies

Childhood and Youth Studies

Contributing to realising children and young people’s human rights through research, teaching, policy and practice in childhood and youth studies

Launch of ground-breaking project to develop a Theory of Change for Making Children’s Rights Real in Scotland

Image of Theory of Change for Making Children’s Rights Real in Scotland
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Author: Eloïse Di Gianni, Senior Policy Officer, Observatory of Children’s Human Rights Scotland


The Observatory of Children’s Human Rights Scotland is pleased to launch a ground-breaking new project to develop a Theory of Change for implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in Scotland. The project is a partnership with Matter of Focus and Public Health Scotland (PHS).

Since the historic adoption of the UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill in March 2021, individuals and organisations across Scotland have been busy developing plans to prepare for UNCRC incorporation into Scots law and its impact on everyday life. The enthusiasm for UNCRC incorporation has been widely expressed; it is highly ambitious, as we all look for transformative change to truly ensure children’s rights are realised – and ultimately, to ensure that children’s human dignity is respected and all children are supported to thrive and reach their full potential.

Despite the temporary setback to the Bill from the UK Supreme Court’s decision, work is still very much continuing at pace on this front. Accordingly, the Theory of Change project has been established to facilitate greater coherence across sectors and to develop a common vision and agenda for effectively delivering the complex work to implement the UNCRC.

A Theory of Change is about turning words into actions. This project will lead a process of setting out how change will happen – in this case how all our work can best improve outcomes for children. It will explore how different policy, practice, awareness-raising and legal changes can make the biggest difference, and will create a framework for all of us involved in the work to track progress towards these ambitious outcomes for all children.

The Theory of Change will be developed collaboratively with experts in the field, and with input from the wider sector and children and young people themselves. Alongside this work, an evidence team will be identifying useful existing evidence of what will best make children’s rights real in Scotland, and thinking about useful indicators as the implementation of UNCRC is taken forward.

The Observatory is keen to engage widely on this work with a range of stakeholders from diverse backgrounds and sectors, in order to enable a truly collective vision to develop. We will also be working closely with the UNCRC Strategic Implementation Board – which has national strategic oversight for the implementation programme – and the Scottish Government, as well as children and young people through Together’s Children and Young People’s Interim Consortium.

This is a short project, due to be completed in spring 2022. We see the Theory of Change project as the start of a longer journey with further activities – to be identified as part of the work – to be taken forward in 2022-23 to address evidence gaps, strengthen implementation, and work at different levels and with different sectors.

Through the process of developing the Theory of Change, we will look ahead 10 years to how collectively we want to transform Scotland to realise children’s human rights, and how to get there. This work is ground-breaking and visionary, and once again puts Scotland at the forefront of children’s rights. We hope that you will join us on this journey.

For any questions on the work and aims of the project, or if you wish to be involved in engagement opportunities, please contact Eloïse Di Gianni at

Updates about the project will be published on the Observatory’s website

About the Observatory

The Observatory of Children’s Human Rights Scotland is a collaborative of Scottish organisations working to drive implementation of children’s human rights in Scotland, with local impact and global learning.

The Observatory seeks to add value, rigour, support and capacity to further children’s human rights implementation in Scotland.

Our vision is that children’s human rights are fully implemented in all areas of children and young people’s lives in Scotland, in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and broader international human rights treaties, in order to ensure that children’s human dignity is respected and all children are supported to thrive and reach their full potential.

The organisations working together to develop the Observatory’s strategy and agenda are: CELCIS, the Childhood and Youth Studies Research Group (MHSES, University of Edinburgh), the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, Children’s Parliament, Inspiring Children’s Futures (University of Strathclyde), the Scottish Youth Parliament and Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights).

Visit the website of the Observatory of Children’s Human Rights Scotland

About Matter of Focus

Matter of Focus is a B Corp company led by Dr Sarah Morton and Dr Ailsa Cook who have developed an approach to outcome and impact tracking that builds on contribution analysis. The approach is held within their innovative cloud-based software OutNav, which facilitates a collaborative approach to understanding pathways to outcomes, and making effective use of data and information to learn, improve and tell an evidence-informed story of contribution to change.

Visit the website of Matter of focus

About Public Health Scotland

Public Health Scotland (PHS) is Scotland’s lead national agency for improving and protecting the health and wellbeing of all of Scotland’s people.

Our vision is for a Scotland where everybody thrives. Focusing on prevention and early intervention, we aim to increase healthy life expectancy and reduce premature mortality by responding to the wider determinants that impact on people’s health and wellbeing. To do this, we use data, intelligence and a place-based approach to lead and deliver Scotland’s public health priorities.

Our values of respect, collaboration, innovation, excellence and integrity is at the heart of our work.

Visit the website of Public Health Scotland

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