COVID-19 Education Recovery Group minutes: 27 May 2021

Minutes from 27 May 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)
  • Sam Anson, Deputy Director, Scottish Government
  • Jean Blair, Scottish Qualifications Authority
  • Craig Clement, Education Scotland
  • Greg Dempster, Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS)
  • Sheena Devlin, Executive Director, Perth & Kinross Council (ADES)
  • Andrew Drought, Deputy Director, Scottish Government
  • Jamie Dunlop, Scottish Youth Parliament
  • Larry Flanagan, Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS)
  • Eddie Follan, CoSLA
  • Liam Fowley, MSYP, Scottish Youth Parliament
  • John Gallacher, UNISON
  • Gayle Gorman, Chief Executive and Chief Inspector, Education Scotland   
  • Gillian Hamilton, Education Scotland
  • Clare Haughey MSP, Minister for Children and Young People
  • Carrie Lindsay, President, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)
  • Graeme Logan, Director for Learning, Scottish Government
  • Janie McManus, Education Scotland
  • Elizabeth Morrison, Deputy Director, Scottish Government
  • Fiona Robertson, SQA
  • Pauline Stephen, GTCS
  • Diane Stockton, Public Health Scotland
  • Matthew Sweeney, CoSLA
  • Jim Thewliss, General Secretary, School Leaders Scotland (SLS)
  • Grace Vickers, SOLACE
  • Margaret Wilson, Chair, National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS)

Items and actions


The new Cabinet Secretary introduced herself to the group, expressing her hope for CERG meetings to continue to be purposeful and high value.

Councillor McCabe thanked the Deputy First Minister for his inclusive approach to chairing the group.

Minutes of the previous meeting

Any feedback from the draft minutes requested to be shared directly with the secretariat.


Public Health Scotland shared an update on data from across Scotland. This showed a continuing low rate of diagnosed infection among older age groups, but increasing numbers in age groups who have not yet been vaccinated.

There is also a continued increase in the number of tests taken by school-age pupils, particularly in the primary age group. This is also reflected in the number of positive cases identified in school pupils, but should be balanced alongside indicators that numbers of reported LFD tests are reducing.

The COVID-19 Antibody Survey of education Staff (CASS) was published last week, showing staff members who previously tested negative for antibodies, but are now positive (seroconversion). Seroconversion appears to be higher in younger staff, those living in more deprived areas, and those working in ELC and primary settings.

Members raised the importance of acknowledging asymptomatic transmission, and the unknown impacts of ‘long COVID’, as well as the need to stay focused on changing data when considering policy decisions.

Feedback from CERG members

Concerns were raised linked to the costs associated with school placement extensions for probationer teachers. This is expected to be funded through Government funding allocated to local authorities to support with wider staff recovery.

Update from the Contingency Planning Working Group

An update was provided by officials following the group’s second meeting. This covered ongoing work to further consider mitigating measures in schools as data changes over time, as well as an agreed approach to bring mitigating measures in schools in line with those in wider society and national protection levels.

Members highlighted the impact of vaccination rates amongst the education workforce as a key factor when considering mitigating measures.

Health and Wellbeing Census

Officials presented an update on the Health and Wellbeing Census, a part of the National Improvement Framework. This work had been delayed due to the pandemic and school closures, but there is an interest in gathering meaningful and purposeful data to show the picture at both a local authority and national level, particularly following the challenging year for children and young people. Group members are keen to support with the development and monitoring of questions where helpful.

Next meeting: 3 June 2021

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