COVID-19 Education Recovery Group minutes: 25 March 2021

Minutes from 25 March 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) 
  • Sam Anson, Deputy Director, Scottish Government 
  • Jane Brumpton, Chief Executive, Early Years Scotland 
  • Simon Cameron, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Craig Clement, Education Scotland
  • Alison Cumming, Interim Director of Early Learning and Childcare, Scottish Government
  • Greg Dempster, Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS) 
  • Sheena Devlin, Executive Director, Perth and Kinross Council (ADES) 
  • Andy Drought, Deputy Director, Scottish Government
  • Larry Flanagan, General Secretary, Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) 
  • Liam Fowley, Scottish Youth Parliament
  • Eddie Follan, CoSLA
  • Gayle Gorman, Chief Executive and Chief Inspector, Education Scotland   
  • Gillian Hamilton, Education Scotland
  • Carrie Lindsay, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES), President 
  • Graeme Logan, Director of Learning, Scottish Government
  • Ben McKendrick, Scottish Youth Parliament
  • Janie McManus, Education Scotland
  • Elizabeth Morrison, Deputy Director, Scottish Government 
  • Pauline Stephen, Chief Executive, General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) 
  • Fiona Robertson, Scottish Qualifications Authority
  • Kay Sillars, UNISON 
  • Pauline Stephen, General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS)
  • Diane Stockton, Public Health Scotland
  • Matthew Sweeney, CoSLA 
  • Professor Carol Tannahill, Chief Social Policy Adviser, Scottish Government
  • Maree Todd MSP, Minister for Children and Young People
  • Jim Thewliss, General Secretary, School Leaders Scotland (SLS) 
  • Margaret Wilson, Chair, National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS)


  • John Gallacher, UNISON
  • Dr Grace Vickers, Solace

Items and actions


The meeting focused principally this week on data and trends over time. PHS shared that the number of COVID-19 cases in schools remains in line with the previous week. However, data is also showing that a lower proportion of pupils testing positive are now asymptomatic, possibly due to increased testing.

Clinicians shared that the best way to reduce the number of cases in schools, is to reduce the number of cases in the local community.

Update from the Advisory Sub-Group

Local PHS teams are taking an ‘act early, act hard’ approach to outbreaks in schools, which is increasing the number of pupils and staff not attending school in person, but which is the recommended approach for outbreak management. It is important that lessons are learned from outbreaks and disseminated more widely.

It was acknowledged that the context in relation to data is expected to be fairly different after the Easter break. This is due to the increase in vaccination and testing, as well as the increased learning on outbreak management.

Mitigating measures in schools

CoSLA colleagues reemphasised the importance of staff and pupil safety, and their high expectations for guidelines to be adhered to. It was recognised that mitigating measures in terms of ventilation will vary across the school estate, and that partnership working remains key to supporting schools. It was highlighted that successful partnership work varies across the country, and that there is work underway at a local level to ensure staff are involved in keeping everyone safe. 

Next meeting: 1 April 2021

Back to top