COVID-19 Education Recovery Group minutes: 4 February 2021

Minutes and papers from 4 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 & Young People
  • Sam Anson, Deputy Director, Scottish Government 
  • Fiona Robertson, Chief Executive, SQA
  • Jean Blair, SQA
  • 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) 
  • Carrie Lindsay, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES), President
  • 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) 
  • Eddie Follan, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) 
  • Gayle Gorman, Chief Executive and Chief Inspector, Education Scotland 
  • Gillian Hamilton, Strategic Director, Education Scotland
  • Graeme Logan, Director of Learning, Scottish Government  
  • 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
  • Michael Chalmers, Director of Children and Families, Scottish Government
  • Jim Thewliss, General Secretary, School Leaders Scotland (SLS)
  • John Gallacher, Regional Manager, UNISON
  • Diane Stockton, Public Health Scotland
  • Matthew Sweeney, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)  
  • Eddie Follan, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Professor Carol Tannahill, Chief Social Policy Advisory, Scottish Government
  • Professor Devi Sridhar, University of Edinburgh
  • 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 42 [Paper 1]   

Part II: 50 minutes     

Weekly feedback/ongoing monitoring    

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

Phased return to in-person learning including:

  • update from The Advisory Sub Group on Education and Children’s issues meeting on Monday 1 February
  • reaction to Cabinet decision/FM announcement on review of restrictions including schools on Tuesday 2 February
  • next steps, including development of necessary guidance and update from CERG working group on return to in-person learning meeting on Tuesday 2 February [Paper 3]

Update from C and F leadership group on February-April 2021 Action Plan [Paper 4]

Update on testing senior phase pupils to support school return

Part IV: 5 minutes     

AOB and next meeting on 11 February     

Surveillance and feedback

For the fourth consecutive week, the number of cases of COVID-19 in 2-17 year olds has fallen. Case levels are lower than in November 2020.

Around 7.9% of pupils across Scotland are attending school. This was 0.3% higher than the previous week. 

Among all cases in week 4, 2.9% reported having been in an educational setting within their infectious period.

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

A presentation was given to members following the most recent meeting of the Advisory Sub-Group providing context on the state of the pandemic (with particular reference to children and young people in ELC and school settings), updates to the advice and FM’s announcement on phased reopening of schools on 22 February (subject to review on 16 February). It was highlighted that any relaxation of measures should be phased, enabling time for the education system to plan for each step change and monitor impacts. It was confirmed that a blended-learning return for ELC-P7 had also been considered by the Sub-Group, including the impact of associated societal movements and possible infection bridges.  Wider impacts have also been considered with regards to reopening schools such as the importance of mental health and wellbeing, social and emotional development and safeguarding vulnerable children. Mitigations and testing will be discussed at the Advisory Sub-Group meeting on 9 February. 

An update was provided on next steps, including plans for updating the supplementary guidance, producing technical guidance on senior phase practical subjects and the schools and ELC asymptomatic testing programme. Work is being undertaken at pace and SG aim to publish these documents as soon as possible to allow schools to plan appropriately ahead of 22 February.  

There was also a further update on the schools/ELC asymptomatic testing programme. The testing kits will initially be available to all primary, secondary and special school staff (including school-based ELC and childcare staff) and all senior phase pupils in Scotland. Schools will be provided with packs of Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test kits for staff and senior phase pupils. The Scottish Government expect test kits for staff to be delivered to the majority of primary and secondary schools in Scotland during week commencing 8 February 2021. A factsheet will be circulated to CERG with further information following the meeting.

Next meeting: 11 February 2021

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