COVID-19 Education Recovery Group minutes: 25 February 2021

Minutes and papers from 25 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
  • Craig Clement, Education Scotland
  • Greg Dempster, General Secretary, Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS) 
  • Fiona Robertson, Chief Executive, Scottish Qualifications Authority
  • 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) 
  • John Gallacher, Regional Manager, UNISON 
  • Gayle Gorman, Chief Executive and Chief Inspector, Education Scotland   
  • Carrie Lindsay, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES), President 
  • 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
  • Professor Carol Tannahill, Chief Social Policy Adviser, SG 

Margaret Wilson, Chair, National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS)

Items and actions


Part I: 5 minutes   

Welcome from DFM   

Minutes of previous meeting CERG 45 [Paper 1]   

Part II: 15 minutes     

Weekly feedback/ongoing monitoring    

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

Part III: 35 minutes     

Return to in-person learning

  • feedback from members on first few days of phased return
  • short readout from CERG sub group- SG [Paper 3]
  • short verbal readout from SG from Advisory Sub Group -SG

Update on actions to promote and support compliance with mitigations in ELC/schools [Paper 4]

Part IV: 5 minutes     

AOB and next meeting on 4 March     



Management Information 

Officials shared that the number of cases of COVID-19 amongst 2–17-year-olds had risen from the previous week. There was also an increase in testing, 7 day rate and test positivity among child age groups.

Public Health Scotland are closely monitoring the situation and are investigating the potential reasons behind the increase in cases. They are also working with local health protection teams to gain extra intelligence on individual outbreaks which will be shared with CERG members in the following weeks. 

Update on return to in-person learning 

Members reflected on the first phase of the return to in-person learning. The feedback from schools and local authorities has been positive so far, with a huge amount of effort from the workforce in preparing for that return. Schools have also welcomed the testing programme and the strengthening of the comms messaging around compliance at school gates. 

Professor Carol Tannahill provided an update from the latest meeting of the Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s Issues. The sub-group have been considering the wider impacts on children and young people around their physical and mental health and the support that can be provided in terms of recovery. In addition, they have also been looking at surveillance and monitoring the impact on the data as a result of phase one of return to-in person learning. An additional short-term working group has been set up to look at the data in more detail. There is a recognition that decisions going forward on phase two and beyond will need to continue to balance clinical advice regarding public health outcomes and the wider harms on children and young people.   

Officials provided an update from the CERG working group on phased return to in-person learning, highlighting that the group had considered a range of potential options for phase two. The Deputy First Minister reiterated that Ministers are keen to see a return to face-to-face learning for as many children and young people as early as possible, for purposes of educational outcomes and also mental health and wellbeing, and that equity needed to be a focus of this. However, that must continue to remain in the context of that being safe and supported by clinicians.

Update on actions to promote and support compliance in schools/ELC settings 

Members offered a range of views following the first mitigations working group meeting. Feedback was mixed on whether local compliance issues were being escalated appropriately or at all. The Deputy First Minister and Councillor McCabe agreed that further, more details on the specifics should be brought to a future CERG meeting.    

Next meeting: 04 March 2021

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