Coronavirus (COVID-19) Learning and Evaluation Oversight Group minutes: February 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 8 February 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Linda Bauld, Chief Social Policy Adviser (Scottish Government), and Professor of Public Health (University of Edinburgh) (Chair)
  • Audrey MacDougall, Chief Social Researcher, Scottish Government
  • Jim McCormick, Chief Executive, Robertson Trust
  • Nick Watson, Professor of Disability Studies, University of Glasgow
  • Patricia Findlay, Professor of Work Employment and Organisation, University of Strathclyde
  • Sarah Skerratt, Director of Programmes, RSE
  • Steven Marwick, Director, Evaluation Support Scotland
  • Kay Tisdall, Professor of Childhood Policy, University of Edinburgh
  • Ruth McQuillan, Edinburgh University, Co-Chair of UNCOVER
  • Evropi Theodoratou, Edinburgh University, Co-Chair of UNCOVER
  • Emilie McSwiggan, Edinburgh University, member of UNCOVER
  • Paulina Trevena, formerly of University of Glasgow
  • Sara Cantillon, Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Nina Teasdale, Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Tom Lamplugh, Head of Social Policy Unit, Scottish Government (Secretariat for the Covid-19 Learning and Evaluation Group)
  • Graeme Wilson, Social Policy Unit, Scottish Government
  • Fran Warren, Social Policy Unit, Scottish Government
  • Marianne Robertson, Intern in the Social Policy Unit, Scottish Government

Apologies were received from 

  • Mary McAllan, Director for COVID Recovery, Scottish Government
  • Sarah Davidson, Chief Executive, Carnegie UK.
  • Vittal Katikireddi, Professor of Public Health, University of Glasgow
  • Richard Foggo, Director of Population Health, Scottish Government
  • Andrew Kerr, Chair of SOLACE
  • Nicola Dickie, Director of People Policy and Health and Social Care COSLA
  • Emily Lynch, Improvement Service
  • Claire Sweeny, Public Health Scotland
  • Gary Gillespie, Chief Economist, Scottish Government
  • Shirley Rogers, Scottish Government Director of Performance, Delivery and Resilience

Items and actions

The Chair welcomed everyone to the sixth meeting of the COVID-19 Learning and Evaluation Oversight Group.

There were no actions arising from the last meeting. 

The Chair thanked everyone who completed the feedback survey which was circulated to the group following the last meeting.

Facilitated discussion on the key findings from three of the COVID-19 Learning and Evaluation Oversight Group grant funded projects

The Chair welcomed the grant holders presenting at the meeting. The main focus of the meeting was an in-depth discussion of the final three expert reviews commissioned by the group.

The Chair welcomed Ruth McQuillan, Emilie Mcswiggan and Evropi Theodoratou to discuss ‘An Evaluation of International Pandemic Recovery Strategies and Identification of Good Practice Relevant to Scotland’. 

Key points covered within the discussion related to:

  • the lack of mental health policies for children and young people as part of international responses to Covid
  • the extent to which the needs of specific vulnerable groups were addressed through Covid Recovery strategies
  • the extent to which the work provided a snapshot in time
  • the importance of Fair Work dimensions and the need to draw out the cross-cutting theme of Fair Work more strongly within the report

The Chair welcomed Paulina Trevena to discuss ‘Addressing the needs of Scotland’s migrant and minority ethnic populations under COVID-19: Lessons for the future’. 

Key points covered within the discussion related to:

  • the need for disaggregated data for people whose rights are most at risk
  • geographical issues relating to the pre-existing issue of differing levels of provision in some areas than others
  • the variability in the preparedness of the statutory sector to share power with the third sector
  • the differing role and relationship of the third sector vis-à-vis the state during the pandemic. This has called into question the traditional roles and relationships
  • the real danger of losing some of the learning and the new relationships that emerged as a result of the pandemic

Lastly, the Chair welcomed Sara Cantillon and Nina Teasdale to discuss ‘COVID-19 and the Centrality of Care: Creating a Resilient and Equitable Society’.

Following the presentation the discussion focused on exploring rural/urban differences relating to the split between paid and unpaid work.   

The Chair thanked the three speakers for their presentations

Plans for finalisation, publication and dissemination of reports

Tom Lamplugh provided a brief update on plans for finalisation, publication and dissemination of the expert reviews.

Two of the reviews have been published alongside blogs and are on the Covid-19 Learning and Evaluation group website. To date the reports have been disseminated on a project by project basis.

The Scottish Government organised a seminar for Fraser of Allander Institute to present their work which was attended by around 80 Scottish Government Analysts. 

Ministers, Cabinet Secretaries, the Deputy First Minister and First Minister have been briefed on the grants and several of the grant holders will be disseminating findings at academic conferences and producing journal articles.

The secretariat will also be circulating the completed grant funded projects to the Scottish Leaders Forum, which is a grouping of around two hundred of the most senior public and third sector leaders.  

The group discussed the importance of drawing out more explicitly some of the themes that cut across these expert reviews, for example emerging themes around partnership working, power sharing, trust, the role of the third sector and how we prepare for future pandemics or crises and committed to spend some time thinking about how to do this most effectively at the next meeting. 

Update from group members

The Chair invite group members to share any news or developments relevant to the work of the group. 

Audrey MacDougall updated that the Data Evidence Strategy should be published in March or April. This is a three year strategy about improving the types of equality data that is available. Audrey encouraged group members to look out for that and would welcomed any comments or suggestions from the group on the Strategy. 

Tom thanked Gary Walsh (and Steven Marwick) from Evaluation Support Scotland for his work summarising evaluations on the impact of interventions for disabled people during the pandemic. This will feed in to and enrich the learning from the pandemic disability paper.  

Tom updated that the next in the series of ‘Learning from the Pandemic’ papers, on Person Centred Approaches will be presented at the next meeting. Marianne Robertson shared the four case studies that the paper will focus on: the Expert Review at Polmont, The Promise, Pathfinders, and Drug Deaths and gave an overview of the work. 

Date and agenda for next meeting

The next in the series of ‘Learning from the Pandemic’ papers, on Person Centred Approaches will be presented at the next meeting.  

The next meeting will also be used to talk about how we use the group’s remaining nine months to the best effect, reflecting on the findings from the feedback survey.

The Chair asked for as many members to attend as possible and reminded members that colleagues can attend in their place if members are unable to attend.

The next meeting will be held Wednesday 29 March at 9.00 – 10.30 am.

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