COVID-19 Education Recovery Group minutes: 18 February 2021

Minutes and papers from 18 February 2021 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) 
  • Maree Todd MSP, Minister for Children and Young People
  • Graeme Logan, Director of Learning, Scottish Government
  • Alan Armstrong, Education Scotland
  • Jane Brumpton, Chief Executive, Early Years Scotland 
  • Craig Clement, Education Scotland
  • Greg Dempster, General Secretary, Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS) 
  • Craig Clement, Education Scotland
  • Sheena Devlin, Executive Director, Perth & Kinross Council (ADES) 
  • Andrew Drought, Deputy Director, Scottish Government 
  • Larry Flanagan, General Secretary, Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) 
  • Liam Fowley, Scottish Youth Parliament
  • Eddie Follan, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) 
  • Kay Sillars, Regional Manager, UNISON 
  • Gayle Gorman, Chief Executive and Chief Inspector, Education Scotland   
  • Carrie Lindsay, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES), President 
  • Gillian Hamilton, Strategic Director, Education Scotland
  • Janie McManus, Deputy Director, Scottish Government
  • Elizabeth Morrison, Deputy Director, Scottish Government 
  • Ken Muir, Chief Executive, General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) 
  • Jim Thewliss, General Secretary, School Leaders Scotland (SLS)
  • Pauline Stephen, General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS)
  • Lynda Fenton, Public Health Scotland
  • Matthew Sweeney, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)  
  • Eddie Follan, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Dr Grace Vickers, Solace
  • Margaret Wilson, Chair, National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS)

Items and actions


Part I: 5 minutes   

Welcome from DFM   

Minutes of previous meeting CERG 44 [Paper 1]   

Part II: 15 minutes     

Weekly feedback/ongoing monitoring    

  • MI data [Paper 2a]    
  • weekly feedback [Paper 2b]    

Part III: 30 minutes     

Update on Early Learning and Childcare [Paper 3] 

Return to in-person learning

  • responses to FM announcement

Update on Remote Learning [Paper 4]

PartIV: 5 minutes     

AOB and next meeting on 25 February     



Officials shared that the number of cases of COVID-19 amongst 2–17-year-olds had fallen for the sixth consecutive week. Measures from contact tracing on educational occupations and settings remain at low levels. 

The Deputy First Minister highlighted the importance of ensuring the data available provides the most appropriate picture of the current situation. 

Update on ELC settings 

Officials provided a current overview of the situation within ELC settings. The sector fully reopens on 22 February and a refresh of the guidance was published to support the return. There has been continuing work on financial and sustainability issues and the roll-out of the testing programme. Actions being taking forward will include education recovery and support for children and families who have had lack of access to ELC. 

Union representatives raised the importance of ensuring mitigations are in place to provide confidence and decrease anxiety in staff returning to settings. Communication channels and reinforcing positive messages around workplace safety at national and local level are vital. 

Update on return to in-person learning 

The Deputy First Minister reflected on the First Minister’s announcement on the full time return to ELC and first phase of the re-opening of schools on 22 February. Supplementary guidance was published to support the return to those settings. It was emphasised that there is a need to monitor the impact of changes, as well as taking account of the further clinical advice before moving on to the next phase. The refresh of the Strategic Framework will be published on 23 February and the return to full-time education for all children and young people will be identified as the highest priority. 

Action: Officials to engage with CERG members to gather feedback on application of mitigations within the guidance and consider what additional support can be provided to ensure that there is greater consistency of implementation across Scotland. To be discussed at next meeting.

Update on remote learning 

Education Scotland provided an update on the five national overview reports on the delivery of remote learning. A summary report will be published to set out the key recommendations and actions from those reports. There has been a strong commitment across the board in terms of the delivery of remote learning including evidence of different approaches and a focus on health and wellbeing. There are some issues around the breadth of the curriculum and supporting the needs of all children and young people. However, on the whole, there has been a significant improvement in the quality and quantity of remote learning since the first lockdown in March 2020.

Next meeting: 25 February 2021

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