COVID-19 Education Recovery Group minutes: 8 April 2021

Minutes from 8 April 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 
  • Jean Blair, Scottish Qualifications Authority 
  • Jane Brumpton, Chief Executive, Early Years 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) 
  • Larry Flanagan, General Secretary, Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) 
  • Liam Fowley, Scottish Youth Parliament
  • John Gallacher, UNISON 
  • Gayle Gorman, Chief Executive and Chief Inspector, Education Scotland   
  • Gillian Hamilton, Education Scotland
  • Carrie Lindsay, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES), President 
  • Ben McKendrick, Scottish Youth Parliament
  • Elizabeth Morrison, Deputy Director, Scottish Government
  • Andrew Murray, Public Health Scotland
  • Eileen Scott, Public Health Scotland
  • Diane Stockton, Public Health Scotland
  • Matthew Sweeney, CoSLA 
  • Carol Tannahill, Chief Social Policy Advisor, 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)

Items and actions


Public Health Scotland colleagues shared that the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to fall in comparison to the previous week. However, there has also been a reduction in the number of tests being undertaken, likely due to the school Easter break.

The group agreed that further analysis of the transmission of cases identified within schools would be helpful, particularly as restrictions change in wider society too.

It was also noted that there are currently more cases in primary schools than in secondary schools. This could be due to an earlier return to in-school learning for many primary pupils, or could be linked to the use of greater mitigating measures in secondary schools, such as face coverings. 

Update from the Advisory Sub-group

The Sub-group shared that, as we return to in-school learning for all pupils, it will be important to monitor the cumulative impact of the easing of restrictions in other parts of society, as well as compliance with mitigating measures and the impact of new variants and international travel. 

The Sub-group recognised the benefits of removing the strict requirement for 2m physical distancing in schools, but also highlighted that this increases the importance of other mitigating measures across the school estate. This includes ventilation and the need for timely and effective responses to outbreaks. 


It was raised that we are now seeing some medium-term impacts of remote learning, as parents are supporting pupils to make subject choices, often without having been able to attend a parents’ evening this academic year. 

Next meeting: 22 April 2021

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