COVID-19 Education Recovery Group minutes: 28 January 2021

Minutes and papers from 28 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 and Young People
  • Sam Anson, Deputy Director, Scottish Government 
  • Marion Bain, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, 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 and 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
  • Gayle Gorman, Chief Executive and Chief Inspector, Education Scotland 
  • Gillian Hamilton, Strategic Director, Education Scotland
  • 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
  • Kay Sillars, UNISON
  • Pauline Stephen, General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS)
  • Diane Stockton, Public Health Scotland
  • Matthew Sweeney, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)  
  • Carol Tannahill, Chief Social Policy Advisory, Scottish Government
  • 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 41 [paper 1]   

Part II: 50 minutes     

Weekly feedback/ongoing monitoring    

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

Phased return to in-person learning 

  • readout from the Advisory Sub Group meeting on 26 January    

Papers for information

  • mental health and wellbeing support for children and young people [Paper 3] 
  • supplementary guidance on supporting children and young people with complex additional support needs [Paper 4]
  • Education Scotland National Overview of Practice Report 
  • updated guidance on school trips [Paper 5]

Part IV: 5 minutes     

AOB and next meeting on 4 February     



Surveillance and feedback

For the third consecutive week, the number of cases of COVID-19 in 2-17 year olds has fallen. Cases within this age group represent around 7% of all cases in Scotland.

Around 7% of all pupils are currently attending school in-person across Scotland.

EIS provided an update on a survey currently with members, with early indications that there are supply teachers currently seeking work.

Updates on planning for a phased return to in-school learning

The Deputy First Minister updated that it is encouraging to see the numbers of cases reducing, but that we need to remain mindful of the pressures on hospitals.

An update was provided following a the most recent meeting of the Advisory Sub-Group. Current information shows that children do not transmit the variant any more than adults do, but further modelling is being carried out in order to further develop the advice on schools. 

It was advised that a return to in-school learning should be staggered to ensure data can be gathered at each stage, and it was emphasised that any changes to school opening should be considered in line with restrictions on wider society. It was also advised that, subject to further modelling - and there being no significant changes to the current evidence - ELC and lower primary pupils may be considered to be within the first groups to return to in-school learning on the basis of: lower levels of transmission and clinical disease; reduced ability to engage fully in remote learning; and to protect social and emotional development. Senior phase pupils were prioritised on the basis of enabling certification and, therefore, ongoing life chances. 

It was emphasised that any return to in-school learning will require staff to feel safe attending school in order to carry out their jobs well. Mitigating measures to ensure staff safety will remain important.

Next meeting: 4 February 2021


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