COVID-19 Education Recovery Group minutes: 19 August 2021

Minutes from 19 August 2021 meeting of the COVID-19 Education Recovery Group.

Attendees and apologies


  • Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills (Chair)    
  • Councillor Stephen McCabe, Children and Young People spokesperson, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) (co-Chair)  
  • Clare Haughey, Minister for Children and Young People
  • Sam Anson, Deputy Director, COVID Education Strategy and Recovery, Scottish Government  
  • Jane Brumpton, Early Years Scotland  
  • Craig Clement, Education Scotland   
  • Greg Dempster Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS) 
  • Sheena Devlin, Executive Director, Perth and Kinross Council (ADES)   
  • Andy Drought, Deputy Director, COVID Education Strategy and Recovery, Scottish Government 
  • Larry Flanagan, Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS)  
  • Eddie Follan, CoSLA   
  • Liam Fowley MSYP, Scottish Youth Parliament 
  • John Gallacher, UNISON
  • Gayle Gorman, Education Scotland
  • Julie Humphreys, Deputy Director, Children and Young People COVID Recovery, Scottish Government 
  • Carrie Lindsay, President, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)    
  • Graeme Logan, Director for Learning, Scottish Government
  • Ben McKendrick, Scottish Youth Parliament 
  • Janie McManus, Education Scotland   
  • Eleanor Passmore, Deputy Director, Early Learning and Childcare, Scottish Government 
  • Fiona Robertson, Scottish Qualifications Authority   
  • Pauline Stephen, Chief Executive, GTCS  
  • Diane Stockton, Public Health Scotland   
  • Colin Sumpter, Public Health Scotland   
  • Matthew Sweeney, CoSLA  
  • Jim Thewliss, General Secretary, School Leaders Scotland (SLS)    
  • Grace Vickers, SOLACE
  • Margaret Wilson, National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS) 


  • Gillian Hamilton, Education Scotland 
  • Alison Cumming, Director for Early Learning and Childcare, Scottish Government

Items and actions


The Cabinet Secretary and Councillor McCabe welcomed everyone to the meeting, noting announcements made this week on the exam diet for 2022 and COVID recovery funding. 

Minutes of previous meeting  

The minutes of the last meeting were agreed.

Standing items, data and feedback 


Public Health Scotland (PHS) provided a brief update on data, noting that it will be a few weeks before it will be possible to determine the full impact of the start of the academic year and pupils returning to school. 

In line with expectations, and the request to secondary pupils and the workforce, there has been a significant increase in the uptake of testing ahead of schools returning. This has also led to an increase in positive case numbers, particularly in the 12-15 and 16-21 age groups.

Feedback from CERG  

The feedback paper was noted, and no additional points were raised.

The return to school

Members were invited to share feedback on the practicalities of implementing the updated guidance, and on the first few days of term from the perspective of groups they represent.

Feedback was broadly positive, with school leaders generally welcoming the timing and the format of the updated guidance. Some members shared that there is a feeling of optimism in the sector, with the workforce generally feeling well-rested after the summer break, and pupils enthused and happy. Union groups in particular welcome the six-week grace period before further changes to mitigating measures may be introduced.

Challenges included varying interpretations of the guidance in different local authorities, and potentially some difficulty in procuring CO2 monitors. The Cabinet Secretary raised the importance of ensuring effective and consistent messaging to all areas of the sector.

It was also raised that the uptake of vaccinations amongst 16-17 year olds is looking positive. However, members are keen that vaccinations are increasingly accessible to young people of that age. It was also confirmed that we continue to await JCVI advice on the second dose of the vaccine for this age group. A dedicated session on vaccination will follow at the next meeting. 

Education recovery

A brief verbal update was provided on the work underway on education recovery. This includes seeking case studies of how additional recovery funding is being used, and officials are working closely with colleagues to ensure alignment with wider COVID recovery plans for sectors outside education. 

Any other business  

None raised. 

Next meeting   

The next meeting will be 26 August 2021. 

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