Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advanced Learning Recovery Group minutes - 1 November 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 1 November 2021.


The chair (Jamie Hepburn - Minister for HE, FE, Youth Employment and Training) welcomed all to the meeting.

All agreed the minutes for the previous meeting (20 October 2021) are accurate.

Action: Minutes to be published on the SG website.

Presentation: COVID-19 modelling and projections William Wardrop, SG COVID-19 : Analysis Division

The presentation provided a high level summary of ‘modelling the epidemic’.

EAG update: Professor Linda Bauld - Chair of the Expert Advisory Group

Professor Bauld gave a summary of a university and college Advice Note on Winter Preparations for the 2021/22 Academic Year.

The discussion covered the following points:

  • an ask for trade unions to meet with the EAG members was re-emphasised - Action.
  • concerns that inconsistent communications may not convey ongoing seriousness of pandemic - were followed by a call for strengthened communications about covid mitigations over the winter and post-Christmas period . 
  • as institutions begin to show a desire for some relaxation on the voluntary mitigations, trade unions are concerned over the safe return to work for staff – at a time when infections may increase.  
  • there was an emphasis that should the pandemic deteriorate; there would be a tightening of public health measures before setting out any new/further restrictions.

Test before Travel: Keith Fernie – Advanced Learning & Science COVID-19 Recovery

Keith gave a summary on the change to advice on the test before travelling for (asymptomatic) domestic students, whichnow advises the more readily available Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs) for testing when there is travel to and from campus over the festive break. 

The discussion covered the following points:

  • it was emphasised that the twice-weekly LFD advice applies to the whole nation, not just the student population.
  • SG and HE/FE institutions should continue to work together to make provisions of tests and strengthen the message on the importance of regular testing, especially now as we approach the regular winter flu season. 

Winter Planning: Craig Robertson - Advanced Learning & Science COVID-19 Recovery

Craig gave an update on institutions plans for the post-Christmas period. He encouraged the FE/HE sector to reconsider increasing campus activity or any significant lift to voluntary restrictions.

The discussion covered the following points: 

  • concerns were shown over the continued potential of lost learning, especially for vocational courses and the longer-term impacts on those students.  
  • a welcoming by trade unions of the SG request of Institutions to reconsider lowering voluntary restrictions.
  • a generally positive view taken by trade unions regarding the hybrid teaching/learning approach, whilst recognising the issue of students' lost learning and experiences. 
  • a view from the college sector for a continued blended/flexible approach.
  • recognition  given to both students and staff who have shown incredible agility to ensure adequate learning. 
  • CLD sector reports concern about the significant loss of learning (particularly for a vulnerable population) and the challenge the CLD providers face in accessing facilities.
  • appreciation and a further acknowledgement of the agility shown by HE/FE staff members as their cooperation allows for sufficient forecasting in what is otherwise a complicated framework to plan around.

Any Other Business

Due to a request, the SG modelling division will include a 'percentage of peak' figure in their future presentations.

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