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

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 20 September 2023

Attendees and apologies

  • Linda Bauld, Interim Chief Social Policy Adviser (Scottish Government), and Professor of Public Health (University of Edinburgh) (Chair)
  • 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
  • Steven Marwick, Director, Evaluation Support Scotland
  • Kay Tisdall, Professor of Childhood Policy, University of Edinburgh
  • Tom Lamplugh, Head of Social Policy Unit, Scottish Government (Secretariat for the Covid-19 Learning and Evaluation Group)
  • Adam Hall, Programme Manager for Recovery & Delivery Programme, Improvement Service
  • Tom Andrews, Public Service Reform, Scottish Government (deputising for Mary McAllan)
  • Graeme Wilson, Social Policy Unit, Scottish Government
  • Fran Warren, Social Policy Unit, Scottish Government


Apologies were received from:

  • Alison Cumming, Director of Budget and Public Spending
  • Audrey MacDougall, Chief Researcher, Scottish Government
  • Gary Gillespie, Chief Economist, Scottish Government
  • Mary McAllan, Director for Covid Recovery, Scottish Government
  • Jennie Barugh, Director of Performance and Outcomes, Scottish Government
  • Michael Kellet, Director of Population Health, Scottish Government
  • Sarah Skerratt, Chief Executive, RSE
  • Vittal Katikireddi, Professor of Public Health, University of Glasgow
  • Nicola Dickie, Director of People Policy and Health and Social Care, COSLA
  • Pamela Smith, Public Health Scotland
  • Andrew Kerr, Chair of SOLACE
  • Adam Lang, Director of Change & Collaboration, Carnegie UK

Items and actions

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

There were no actions arising from the last meeting. 


Update on the Covid recovery work

Tom Andrews provided a brief update on Covid recovery work. 

Following the conclusion of the Covid Recovery Programme an ‘actions and next steps’ report is in the process of being drafted. The report will set out how the work of the Covid Recovery Strategy can inform Public Service Reform work moving forwards.


Update on Evaluation sub-group work

The Chair welcomed Graeme Wilson to present on the work of the Evaluation Sub-group, which was convened to review existing evidence from evaluations of COVID-19 measures. The aim of this work is to develop key principles for embedding evaluation more systematically into policy making during times of change or crisis, that can inform future decisions.

Graeme Wilson talked through provisional findings and recommendations from the two summaries of the themes drafted to date: Equalities and Evaluating emergency support measures.

Following discussion the group agreed to prioritise the following two themes for further work:

  • Scales and types of evaluation (to explore the extent to which design choices were driven by information needs, practical constraints, expectations etc.), and
  • Timing – to reflect on when evaluations were undertaken relative to the stages of the pandemic and to decisions on the measures they assess


Thematic Analysis and Covid Recovery Workshop Findings.  Presentation from Fran Warren and Tom Lamplugh followed by discussion.

The Chair welcomed Fran Warren and Tom Lamplugh to present on the findings from the thematic analysis report.

Fran Warren thanked the members of the sub group for their time and expertise with this work, and also for all the group members who attended a workshop.  Fran Warren talked through the thematic analysis and Tom Lamplugh then discussed the findings from the workshops. 

Tom Lamplugh clarified that the findings from the workshops would be incorporated into the thematic analysis which will be published on the Covid-19 Learning and Evaluation Oversight Group webpages.

Following the presentation a number of points were raised in discussion relating to:

  • the importance of the third sector
  • the value of public trust
  • the Verity House Agreement and the New Deal for Business
  • the value of incorporating lived experience into policy making

Tom Lamplugh said that he would be sharing the outputs with the Standing Committee on Pandemics and the Partnership for Pandemic Preparedness, and would discuss with them how some of that evidence can be brought into play.

The Chair thanked the group for all the valuable comments, which will be incorporated into the paper. The intention is to publish the paper and circulate the paper to group members shortly and invite any further feedback then.


Update from group members

There were no updates from group members. 


Discussion on next steps for the group

The Chair explained that the aim is to:

  • finalise and publish the thematic report
  • look for opportunities to disseminate the findings
  • progress the work of the Evaluation Sub-Group

The next meeting of the group will be used to agree the final outputs for the evaluation subgroup and to reflect and take stock on the range of work that has been conducted over the two year life frame for the learning and Evaluation oversight group.

The Chair encouraged members of the group to attend the final meeting and for members to use their shared expertise to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses in the work.


Date of next meeting

The final meeting of the group will be in late January, and the date will be confirmed.  It may be held as a face to face or hybrid meeting – this will also be confirmed. 


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