COVID-19 Education Recovery Group minutes: 1 October 2020

Minutes and papers from 1 October 2020 meeting of the COVID-19 Education Recovery Group.

Attendees and apologies


  • John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills (Chair) 
  • Councillor Stephen McCabe, Children and Young People spokesperson, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Sam Anson, Deputy Director, Scottish Government
  • Jane Brumpton, Chief Executive, Early Years Scotland
  • Alison Cumming, Deputy Director, Scottish Government
  • Greg Dempster, General Secretary, Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS)
  • Sheena Devlin, Executive Director, Perth & Kinross Council (ADES)
  • Andrew Drought, Deputy Director for Workforce, Infrastructure & Reform, Scottish Government
  • Fiona RobertsonChief Executive, SQA 
  • Larry Flanagan, General Secretary, Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS)
  • Eddie Follan, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • John Gallacher, Regional Manager (UNISON) 
  • Gayle Gorman, Chief Executive and Chief Inspector, Education Scotland
  • Carrie Lindsay, President, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)
  • Graeme Logan, Director of Learning, Scottish Government 
  • Mick Wilson, Deputy Director, Scottish Government 
  • Diane StocktonPublic Health Scotland 
  • Gillian Hamilton, Strategic Director, Education Scotland
  • Karen Reid, Perth and Kinross Council, Director of Education
  • Ken Muir, Chief Executive, General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS)
  • Malcolm Pentland, Deputy Director, Scottish Government
  • Matthew Sweeney, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Jim Thewliss, General Secretary, School Leaders Scotland (SLS)
  • Marie Todd MSP, Minister for Children and Young People
  • Maria Walker, Strategic Director, Education Scotland
  • Margaret Wilson, Chair, National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS)


  •  Elizabeth Morrison, Deputy Director, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome and Previous Actions

The Deputy First Minister welcomed the group.

Actions from the previous meeting were highlighted. On staffing an update was provided on the number of re-registration requests and the notes of interest received.

It was noted that a follow up item on shielding staff would be brought to CERG for further discussion at a later point.

Further work is also underway on ASN alongside ADES, EIS and PHS. This will also be brought to CERG for further discussion at a later point.

Weekly feedback/ongoing monitoring

The meeting then continued with a the routine update on the Management Information data. Trends suggested that attendance for both pupils and staff is stable. School closure impacts can now been seen in the data. Wider societal interactions regarding transmission were noted, as the tightening of the wider guidance is designed to protect health outcomes as well as minimise impacts on the rest of the four harms (e.g. by being able to keep schools open).

Further discussion with the Scientific Advisory group around the continuing adequacy of current school mitigations was requested in light of the increase in cases in wider society, particularly in relation to Senior Phase pupils.

There was also an ask for a version of the data pack to be provided in a format that can be shared by members externally going forward.

Exam diet 2021

There was then an overview provided on the progress of exam diet discussions. Thinking around the National 5’s, Highers and Advanced Highers was shared along with consideration for contingency planning. The operational viability of the options, workload for teaching staff, consistency and confidence and system capacity were all highlighted.

A question was posed on how the outcomes of the Priestly review would be incorporated into the thinking. It was confirmed that the recommendations from the Priestly review would be important to consider in determining the approach to be taken.

Members asked for guidance and advice around the 2020/21 exam diet to be shared as soon as possible, to allow everyone to understand the expectations for this year.

The group was assured that DFM would take the decision on the exam diet based upon consideration of all of the tensions including; workload, burden on pupils and staff, learning and teaching opportunities, operational viability, quality and consistency in assessment and marking and confidence in the. Further discussion will take place and all of these points need to thought through fully.


The group then considered draft guidance on ventilation within schools, which aimed to help local authorities and schools strike a balance between circulating air to combat transmission of C-19 and the provision of an appropriate temperature to work and learn. It was noted that there would be a SAGE sub-group paper produced on this issue shortly. Members felt that awaiting this publication would be a better way forward as the initial draft did not provide the detail required to manage ventilation in school buildings properly. One member noted the approach being taken in Germany, which involved opening windows between classes, which might deserve consideration when updating the draft.

The urgency of this issue was highlighted as the current temperature is dropping, and there is a risk of schools being required to close if they cannot sustain the legal temperature level. As such, it was agreed that there should be an additional meeting involving some CERG members early next week to consider a further draft of the guidance.


  • Items which will return to an upcoming CERG; item on shielding staff and item on ASN.
  • Management Information slides to be provided that can be shared publicly by members.
  • Further discussion and consensus building on the key discussion points relating to the 2021 exam diet.
  • The draft ventilation guidance will be updated in light of the SAGE sub-group advice when published. A further CERG meeting should be held to consider an updated draft early in w/c 5th October.

AOB & Next meeting

AOB: (by email): Some 83% of Secondary schools now have Careers Advisers back in school delivering our face to face service offer. Depending on the size of the school this can mean a Careers Adviser could be in that school 2,3 or even 4 days a week. We have about 4 – 500 plus school based CAs.

The amount of advisers back in school across Scotland  has increased dramatically over the last few weeks following the completion of the  Risk Assessments. As of today we are offering the full face to face service offer in every school in a total of 13 local authorities

Next meeting: To be confirmed, an opt-in meeting early week commencing 5 October to further consider Ventilation. The next CERG is planned for 10 am on the 8 October

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