Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advanced Learning Recovery Group minutes: 2 August 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advanced Learning Recovery Group on 2 August 2022.

Items and actions


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


Members highlighted that mental health and wider harms issues are not sufficiently captured in the minutes of the previous meeting (5 July 2022).

Minutes and agenda are sent out in advance of the meeting. CRG secretariat will include any suggestions that members have on how discussions have been recorded or for specific agenda points to be included.

Action: specific points for inclusion to 5 July minutes to be provided by members for inclusion on minutes to be published.


Shifa Sarica (Public Health Scotland) presented the latest national public health data and Nabeil Salama (SG Central Analysis Division) updated the group on the latest COVID-19 modelling. Lucy Kennedy (SG Health Marketing) provided an overview of planned SG autumn/winter Covid comms.

The following discussion points were raised:

  • unions requested more detail on who in the working age population is still dying from COVID-19 and who is still disproportionately at risk of becoming seriously ill. Action: SG officials to follow up
  • CS queried whether there was any sector-specific guidance available on the particular risks associated with FE/HE settings. SG highlighted that the Guiding Principles have replaced the need for any detailed prescriptive guidance and that institutions remain best placed to respond to any local issues or concerns
  • Professor Linda Bauld emphasised that colleges and universities are not risky settings in terms of learning environments. There have been published studies relating to the risk in halls of residence
  • US highlighted that the majority of students do not live in halls of residence and that we should be cautious about singling students out
  • members queried whether an evaluation had been undertaken of the government’s autumn/winter comms campaign and if there were any particular lessons for institutions. Officials stated that, as a matter of course, SG evaluates all of its campaign’s but that point has not yet been reached with regards to the current campaign

Debbie Browett (SG Student Equalities and Wellbeing) gave an overview of the Student Mental Health Action Plan and Marion McCormack (SG COVID Ready Society Division) provided an update on the SG’s adaptation programme.

The following discussion points were raised:

  • there is a feeling that progress on the Student Mental Health Action Plan is too slow. SG emphasised that the aim is to be ambitious and for the plan to deliver on a long-term basis
  • important for SG to recognise the level of resource that will be required in order to implement the plan
  • concerns were raised about funding for mental health counsellors and the lack of urgency around this Prevention is especially important post-COVID and counsellors are a vital part of that. SG assured members that the action plan would feature prevention just as much as crisis intervention and that officials are fully aware of members’ concerns about funding for this provision
  • members expressed concern about legacy issues i.e. lost learning, digital poverty, mental health issues and how these were not sufficiently addressed in the adaptations work. Officials stated that they would be happy to discuss legacy issues at a future meeting
  • TUs asked as to when the report from the expert group on ventilation will be published. SG stated that they expect the group to report in January or February next year
  • Youth Link Scotland welcomed the implementation of the COVID Sense Signage Scheme. However, there were concerns that the enhanced cleaning requirements would be a barrier to access. SG reassured CLD members that the scheme is voluntary and that you do not have to have enhanced cleaning measures in place to display the signage

Any Other Business (AOB)

  • members commented that the timing for the meeting does not allocate enough time for detailed discussion of agenda points
  • suggestion that a review the remit of the various Covid Recovery meetings. Potentially delegating the more operational and short-term issues to the COVID Leads Groups and making the ministerial COVID Recovery group about the strategic initiatives to address the longer term impacts of COVID-19. Action: SG officials to follow up on this
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