Commission for the Land-Based Learning Review: terms of reference

Terms of reference for the Commission for the Land-Based Learning Review group.

Scope and deliverables

The Commission for the Land-based Learning Review (the Commission) is a group that has been established to provide independent, evidence based advice to Scottish Ministers.

This is a short term advisory group that has been established to undertake a root and branch review of learning in Scotland’s land-based and aquaculture sectors - from early years to adulthood - to provide opportunities and qualifications through school, college, university and work-based learning, including apprenticeship, for more people, and specifically more women, to work with and on the land, particularly in green skills.

The work of the group will support the Scottish Government’s ambitions of delivering a just transition to net-zero, by ensuring our learning system equips people with the skills and knowledge needed to work in Scotland’s land-based sectors as well as any new and emerging green occupations in land-based sectors.


The review will consider the learning pipeline for the following sectors:

  • agriculture
  • aquaculture
  • biodiversity
  • environmental conservation
  • equine
  • fisheries management
  • food and drink processing
  • forestry, trees and timber
  • game and wildlife
  • horticulture
  • land-based engineering
  • peatland restoration

The scope of the review will not include:

  • nature-based tourism
  • outdoor recreation
  • renewables (wind, hydro, solar)

Learning pipeline

For the purposes of the review the learning pipeline is:

  • early Learning and childcare (up to school age)
  • curriculum for excellence (3 to 18 years)
  • learning for sustainability (3 to 18 years)
  • senior phase (S4 to S6 in schools)
  • developing the young workforce
  • further and higher education
  • continuing personal development
  • lifelong learning

All-age employability support

  • careers, advice and information
  • pathways
  • apprenticeships
  • work-based learning
  • employability support including formal volunteering opportunities
  • continuing personal development
  • upskilling and reskilling
  • skills alignment

Cross-cutting themes

The work of the review will be underpinned by the cross-cutting themes of:

  • equality and Inclusion
  • fair work
  • delivering a just transition to a net-zero and a climate resilient Scotland


Outputs from the review will include:

  • commission led stakeholder engagement to enable broad consultation on the content of the review
  • a final report with a set of recommendations that identify what interventions need to be applied across the learning pipeline to inform, promote and engage individuals in the employment opportunities available in the land-based sectors, with a view to encouraging more people into the sectors
  • specific attention will be given to providing recommendations that aim to redress inequality of opportunity in the land-based and aquaculture sectors


Potential outcomes resulting from implementation of actions arising from the review will include:

  • increased numbers of people, especially women and young people either considering careers or entering employment in the sectors
  • increased contribution of the land-based sectors to the rural economy
  • increased opportunities for meaningful employment in land-based and aquaculture sectors contributing to retaining more people in rural and island areas, supporting sustainable rural and islands communities


The Commission will be in place from 25 August 2021 until the end of December 2022. It is anticipated that approximately six quarterly Commission meetings will take place between the inaugural meeting in Autumn 2021 and the end of December 2022.

Key milestones will include:

  • stakeholder engagement from Spring 2022 to Autumn 2022
  • evidence collected by Autumn 2022
  • final recommendations report to be delivered by December 2022

Ways of working

Commission co-chairs

Meetings of the Commission will be co-chaired by Liz Barron-Majerik and Bernard Chisholm. The co-chairs are independent of Government and are responsible for determining the work of the Commission in consultation with Commission members.

The co-chairs are expected to:

  • prepare for and attend meetings of the Commission
  • attend other meetings and seminars on behalf of the Commission (as required)
  • assist in the development, approval and monitoring of the Commission’s work
  • identify and specify potential areas for research
  • establish good partnership working with other organisations and participate in reference groups, discussion forums and open meetings (as required)
  • provide effective leadership to the Commission, including chairing meetings and fostering sound decision-making and full participation by other members of the Commission in the exercise of their functions and in the work of the Commission
  • act as the principal spokespersons and public face of the Commission, representing it at meetings with other bodies, the Scottish Ministers and other members of the Scottish Parliament, and at conferences/events and in the media

Commission membership

All Commission members have been invited to sit on the Commission in an individual capacity rather than acting as representatives of particular groups or organisations. Commission members are expected to:

  • exercise their individual talents and areas of expertise by briefing and guiding the Commission and draw on networks to assist with this
  • participate fully in Commission meetings regularly and on time
  • prepare adequately for these meetings by, for example, proposing agenda items, reading papers in advance, preparing and presenting papers for consideration, participating in discussion, and helping to reach a consensus view
  • conduct themselves in an appropriate manner and to respect the views of other Commission members
  • as directed by the co-chairs, occasionally act on their behalf in representing the Commission at meetings with other bodies, at conferences/events and in the media, as required
  • act as Commission champion/lead as required (and agreed with the co-chairs) in relation to specific elements of the work plan
  • protect information received in confidence from unauthorised disclosure
  • identify and specify potential areas for research


Whilst every effort should be made to attend all meetings of the Commission, it is recognised that the co-chairs or Commission members may need to be absent on occasion due to annual leave, conflicting arrangements or other requirements outwith their control.

Once a co-chair or Member is aware that they are unable to attend they should notify the Secretariat at the earliest opportunity.


The agenda for each meeting will be decided by the co-chairs following discussion with the Secretariat for the group. If members wish to contribute agenda items, they are asked to notify the Secretariat by emailing no later than two weeks before the relevant meeting. The Secretariat will circulate the final agenda and all papers five working days ahead of each meeting.

Whilst time will be allocated for any other business, advanced notice should be given of any significant issues to be considered. These issues should be notified to the Secretariat as above.

Conflict of interests

As a standing item at the start of each meeting, the co-chairs will ask members to state any potential conflicts of interest that may arise through the course of the meeting. In this context, “conflict of interest” refers to specific bias or financial interest that other members of the Commission could not reasonably be expected to be aware of. Members are also expected to declare interests as they arise during discussions. In these circumstances, it would be for the co-chairs to decide an appropriate course of action. This may include, for example, asking the Member to leave the meeting for the specific agenda item which relates to the conflict of interest.

The Secretariat provided by Scottish Government (details at 4. below) will maintain a register of any conflicts of interest as a formal record which should be reviewed at each Commission meeting. 

Note of meetings

Notes of meetings, recording points of agreement or disagreement and actions arising will be made available through the Commission’s dedicated web presence on within 21 working days of the meeting. The Secretariat will circulate to members a draft meeting note recording points of agreement or disagreement and actions arising within 10 working days of the meeting. The note will reflect the discussion but will not make specific reference to Commission members by name. Points agreed/disagreed will be noted accordingly.

Meeting documentation and information sharing

In general, documentation considered by the Commission will be considered public, and will be made available online following meetings. However, it is acknowledged that there may be occasions where this default position is not appropriate, this will be at the co-chairs’ discretion. By way of example, relevant documentation for the Commission may contain information that is not in the public domain, contain issues of commercial sensitivity or raise copyright issues. Where possible, sensitive material will be partially redacted and published. Where the co-chairs consider that documentation should not be made available online, the minutes will include a record that they have been considered by the Commission.

The Commission is committed to being as open and transparent as possible, and will proactively share what information it can. Information to be released will be considered by the co-chairs and should not be released without their explicit consent. Reports, notes of meetings and other information will be made available through the Commission’s dedicated web presence on

Stakeholder engagement and information gathering

The Commission will agree a programme of stakeholder engagement which may include stakeholder events and a public consultation. The purpose of the stakeholder engagement will be to seek a wide range of views on:

  • any challenges and constraints in the current approach to learning across the sectors
  • skills gaps and future demand
  • current good practice
  • the Commission’s draft proposals and recommendations

Consultations will be designed to be inclusive, to capture a wide range of views including young people, women, under-represented groups, delivery and policy bodies, employers and industry bodies.

An evidence gathering/analytical group will be established to support the Commission’s work, drawing in expertise from stakeholders, academics and Scottish Government officials. The group will provide evidence, statistical information, research and background papers where required to support the Commission. It will have a key role in informing and supporting the Commission’s programme of stakeholder engagement.

Decision making

The Commission should, as far as possible, reach decisions by consensus. Where necessary, a vote will be taken where the Commission needs to make a decision. Each Member will be allocated one vote and, in the event that no clear decision is reached, i.e. equal votes, the Chair will have the casting vote. All decision outcomes and the numbers for and against will be noted.

Quorum for meetings

The quorum for any Commission meeting and vote must be two thirds of the complete membership. Full membership is 16, meaning the quorum for a Commission meeting is 10 members.


The Secretariat will be provided through the Scottish Government and will undertake the following functions as directed by the Commission co-chairs:

  • preparing and circulating agenda and related papers
  • arranging suitable locations and dates for meetings of the Commission and supporting any stakeholder engagement
  • inviting individuals and organisations to meetings of the Commission, as directed by Commission members
  • recording a draft meeting note including points of agreement or disagreement and actions arising
  • ensuring the availability of resource for drafting a report and any supporting documents as directed by the Commission
  • managing communications for the Commission
  • dealing with all enquiries in relation to the Commission’s work
  • maintenance of the Commission’s dedicated web presence
  • publicising work online and coordinating other online engagement, as required
  • drafting responses to press queries
  • commissioning and managing third party research and specialist input, as required
  • providing the Commission with updates on relevant areas of interest in the wider policy landscape, as required
  • notifying Commission members of any significant issues or events (within Scottish Government or otherwise) relevant to its work
  • supporting the Commission to engage with Scottish Government officials and Ministers as necessary

Relationships with ministers


The Commission will produce a final report to the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands and the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills. The co-chairs will also provide an update on work, current focus and outputs as required.

Requests for advice

Ministers may make formal requests to the Commission for advice via the co-chairs. The Commission will consider whether it is able to incorporate this into its work and provide a formal notification to Ministers advising of their decision.

Remuneration and expenses

This appointment is voluntary and non-remunerated. You are however entitled to be reimbursed by the Scottish Ministers for expenses that appear to be necessary or expedient for the proper discharge of your functions. Expense claims should be submitted to the Secretariat with receipts as required, and will be considered against the rates of expenses for civil servants employees of the Scottish Government. A copy of that scheme is available on request from the Secretariat, and may be subject to change from time to time.

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