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Leadership Framework - Inspiring Scotland

Leadership Framework

Leadership Framework

The Leadership Framework is the term used for a new way of doing things at a national government level.

In March 2021 the Towards Transformation Plan said that:

“We will put in place plans for everyone to work together through new leadership arrangements and for this work to be led by autistic people and people with a learning/intellectual disability. National and local organisations need to be involved in this. We want the voice of autistic people, people with a learning/intellectual disability, and unpaid carers to be at the centre of work going forward.”

This work will involve people with learning disabilities and autistic people more closely and actively in policy development in Scotland.


The Leadership Framework delivery team is made up of people in the Scottish Government Autism and Learning Disabilities team, The Assembly and Inspiring Scotland.

The autistic and learning disability participants for this stage are members of The Assembly and the Autism Advisory Forum at Inspiring Scotland. It also involves other people such as staff in the Scottish Commission for People with Learning Disabilities and the National Autism Implementation Team.

We work with relevant professionals and researchers nationally and internationally to create an environment of learning and collaboration amongst people with research and policy expertise and people with lived experience of autism and learning disabilities.

Our goal

Our main goal is to actively engage autistic people and people with learning disabilities in the development of policy that concerns them and directly impacts their lives. We hope to create a community of individuals and organisations committed to meaningful participation and collaboration.


Drivers are the people with lived experience who are at the centre of the work. They are autistic people and people with a learning disability.

The Autism Drivers are members of the Autism Advisory Forum. The Learning Disability Drivers are members of The Assembly.

The Drivers have an advisory role and they inform all recommendations to the Scottish Government and COSLA.

Allies are people who have an interest or experience in championing the human rights of autistic people or people with a learning disability.

They are committed to working together with people with lived experience to highlight the issues affecting them and support them to make real, lasting change in their lives.

Engineers are either local or national decision makers or people who are connected to those. They will work as a bridge between the Drivers and Engineers by hearing the results of the engagement and consultation work and the suggestions of the Drivers. Engineers will support the partnerships between Drivers and Allies to make sure the solutions become a reality.

The Engineer group will work together to help create and implement the essential parts of the solutions informed by lived experience knowledge, evidence and research. Engineers sessions will focus on how the changes can be made. Decision making will still rest with the Scottish Government Ministers, COSLA and with local authorities but there will be a clear and different process for reporting in to inform those decisions.

Meet our Drivers

In this video, you will hear from some of our autism and learning disabilities Drivers talking about their involvement in the Leadership Framework and reflecting on their personal experiences supporting this work.

Meet our Allies

In this section, our Allies talk about the involvement of their organisations within the Leadership Framework, discussing how they support our work, and talk about their motivations and experiences in supporting the Leadership Framework.


‘I decided to become an Ally in the Leadership Framework because the principles behind this important initiative match the ambitions of Enable for people with learning disabilities, and other people with lived experience, to be their own champions for the change there needs to be in society so their rights are fully respected and achieved.

‘Enable can support this work by sharing the learning and information resources which have been developed through the leadership framework, and by encouraging and supporting more people with learning disabilities to become involved in self-advocacy and peer support.’

 – Richard Baker from Enable


‘The Scottish Commission for People with Learning Disabilities (SCLD) is delighted to be involved in this piece of work. We are totally committed to the involvement of people with learning disabilities in the co-production of all the work and we think it’s great that the Scottish Government are doing so much to make this a reality. Charlie, our Chief Executive and other members of our team have been involved in the planning and development of this work and are pleased to see the outcomes that have been identified. We will make sure that SCLD and all of our contacts are aware of the work and contributing to the delivery of the outcomes.’

–  Charlie McMillan from SCLD


‘A key principle underpinning the work of the National Autism Implementation Team is ‘nothing about us without us’ and we are committed to taking the lead from neurodivergent people and being allies in all the work we do. It is exciting to see the opportunity provided by the Scottish Government to put the perspectives of a wide range of neurodivergent people at the forefront of policy and practice development.

‘NAIT can ensure that our cross sector practitioner networks are aware of the work and as an implementation team, we can research and practice information linked to priorities identified and we can provide mechanisms for new ways of working to be applied in practice.’

–  Marion Rutherford from The National Autism Implementation Team

Meet our Engineers

In this section, our Engineers talk about the involvement of their organisations within the Leadership Framework, discussing how they support our work, and talk about their motivations and experiences in supporting the Leadership Framework.


‘COSLA are the Membership organisation for Scotland’s 32 Local Authorities. COSLA and the Scottish Government jointly produced the Keys to Life and the Scottish Strategy for Autism and more recently the Learning Disability and Autism Towards Transformation Plan. Our Members are committed to taking the Plan forward and a big part of that is providing greater opportunities for those with lived experience to discuss and raise issues. This has led to establishing the groups of Engineers, Allies and Drivers and we are happy to be part of this ongoing process.’

–  John Urquhart from COSLA


‘PAMIS are led by people with a profound learning and multiple disabilities and their families. We have listened to them, worked on their ideas and solutions and been educated by them for over 31 years. As an organisation we have developed resources and approaches that enables their voices to be heard, and through our services and projects we are able to share the issues, aspirations and solutions that this group raise. We can bring this priceless data into the wider group and also take back the key messages to this community. PAMIS have resources, expertise, insights, patience, persistence and passion – all core ingredients if we are to make a difference to the lives of people we seek to empower.’

–  Jenny Miller from PAMIS

What are we currently working on?

In September 2022, the Drivers and some Allies had a meeting to discuss the future priorities and actions for the Leadership Framework. After research was carried out, it was agreed that accessing mental health services was a top priority for both autistic people and people with learning disabilities. Three working groups were set up to focus on different aspects of this issue. Our current working groups are focusing on:

1. Training for GPs and health care staff (learning disability)

2. Training for GPs and health care staff (autism)

3. Autism Informed Services (autism)

Contact us

We work with experts from the voluntary, public, private and academic sectors. Get in touch if you want to help us build a better Scotland.

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