COVID-19 Education Recovery Group minutes: 21 January 2021

Minutes and papers from 21 January 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 & Young People
  • Sam Anson, Deputy Director, Scottish Government 
  • Jane Brumpton, Chief Executive, Early Years Scotland 
  • Craig Clement, Education 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, Scottish Government 
  • Larry Flanagan, General Secretary, Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) 
  • Eddie Follan, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) 
  • Liam Fowley, Scottish Youth Parliament
  • John Gallacher, Unison
  • Gayle Gorman, Chief Executive and Chief Inspector, Education Scotland 
  • Gillian Hamilton, Strategic Director, Education Scotland
  • Carrie Lindsay, President, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES) 
  • Graeme Logan, Director of Learning, Scottish Government  
  • Ben McKendrick, Scottish Youth Parliament
  • Janie McManus, Deputy Director, Scottish Government
  • Elizabeth Morrison, Deputy Director, Scottish Government 
  • Ken Muir, Chief Executive, General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) 
  • Malcolm Pentland, Deputy Director, Scottish Government
  • Fiona Robertson, Scottish Qualifications Authority
  • Pauline Stephen, General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS)
  • Diane Stockton, Public Health Scotland
  • Matthew Sweeney, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) 
  • Jim Thewliss, General Secretary, School Leaders Scotland (SLS) 
  • 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 40 [paper 1]  

Part II: 50 minutes    

Weekly feedback/ongoing monitoring   

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

Update from CERG working group on return to in-person learning – SG [paper 3]

Update on Testing Pilots - SG [Verbal update]   

Part IV: 5 minutes    

AOB and next meeting on 28 January    



Surveillance and feedback

In comparison to the previous week, there are lower numbers of cases amongst 2–17-year-olds. This reflects the lower number of cases across the general population. 

Around 6-7% of pupils are currently attending school in person. Of those, from data shared by 16 local authorities, around 63% of those pupils are children of key workers. It is however important to recognise that there is huge variance in in-person attendance across schools.

An update was provided on the work underway to support and facilitate school placements for student teachers.
It was requested that staff in ASN schools be prioritised for vaccinations, particularly those in the special and complex sectors.

Updates from CERG working groups

Work continues on developing the options and practicalities for a phased return to in-school learning for all. This may involve full-time attendance for priority groups of pupils, or a move towards blended learning to ensure some contact time for all. It will be important to strike the right balance between ensuring standardisation, while allowing flexibility to account for local circumstances.

Some key issues for consideration were highlighted, including how priorities may change over time, workforce numbers and the employment of supply staff, the impact on senior phase pupils, and the need for further scientific data.

It was agreed that early priorities should include: i) early years/early primary, ii) the senior phase, and iii) children and young people with additional support needs.


Officials provided an update on two asymptomatic testing pilots that are underway in a small number of schools, and shared considerations on up-scaling options. There is hope that this work could, alongside other mitigating measures, provide reassurance on school safety.


Education Scotland provided an update on engagement with schools and local authorities on remote learning, with a first report due to be published the following day.

Next meeting: 28 January 2021

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