Education Reform Inspectorate and Agency Delivery Board minutes: November 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 14 November 2022.

This document is part of a collection

Attendees and apologies


  • Gillian Hamilton (Chair)
  • Patricia Watson
  • Sean Stronach
  • Greg Dempster
  • Tracy Reilly
  • Janie McManus
  • Magnus Hughson
  • Ken McAra
  • Laurence Findlay
  • Alison MacDonald
  • Tracy Manning
  • Jamie Petrie
  • Maureen Hamilton
  • Chris Preston
  • Andrea Bradley
  • Lesley Whelan
  • Peter Murray
  • Gillian Kierans
  • Lesley Whelan
  • Ann Cura
  • Cheryl Paris
  • Monika Kalinowska
  • Les Byle (PMO)


  • Kerrie Laird
  • Harold Hislop
  • Frances Douglas

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies 

GH opened the meeting and extended a warm welcome to the first face to face meeting of the Delivery Board. She thanked everyone for their time and effort in attending in person and welcomed those attending for the first time. She extended a thank you to Jamie Petrie, attending on behalf of Kerrie Laird.

GH advised the meeting duration has been extended considerably to allow Delivery Board members time to focus on and to help shape the work of the project teams.  

Apologies were noted as above.

Minutes and actions from 13 October 2022 Delivery Board meeting

The minute of 13 October 2022 was agreed as accurate. 

Actions and decisions log

GH confirmed that there are no outstanding actions on the actions & decisions log. 

Risk register

GH advised that, in order to provide enough time to discuss other substantive agenda items, the risk register would not be formally covered at today’s meeting. 

However, a brief overview was provided highlighting two additional risks in relation to the lack of a programme level communications and engagement strategy and the lack of clarity on the available budget in developing the two new agencies.

Specifically on budgets, GH reminded Delivery Board (DB) members that the recent Gateway Review had highlighted that further information on budgets should be provided by the 30 November 2022. 

An in-depth review of the risk register would take place at the next DB meeting on 19 December 2022.

Update on wider Reform work

GH provided an update on wider work that may be of interest to Delivery Board members including the National Discussion and the Hayward review, which was on schedule to report.

The Cabinet Secretary spoke at the AHDS (Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland)  and the ADES (Association of Directors of Education in Scotland) conferences recently and used these opportunities to build on her substantive messaging around reform. She was attending the SLS (School Leaders Scotland) conference later in the week. The conferences had generated a useful degree of constructive feedback and challenge from those attending.  

The most recent meeting of the Strategic Programme Board took place on the 8 November 2022. There was discussion about roles and responsibilities across the education system and the need to look at interfaces and relationships. In preparation for the meeting on 13 December 2022, the board also considered a paper which set out the Scottish approach to service design, the approach being used in the development of the three new organisations.  

Looking ahead, we were developing a business case for the next phase of the work associated with the reform. However, clarity from SG (Scottish Government) on future commissions was required to enable us to do this effectively. More information on this was expected shortly and a business case would be submitted to SG by the end of 2022.

In response to a question, GH noted that although no firm decision had yet been taken, it was hoped that there would be one Education Scotland (ES) Reform Delivery Board until June 2023. After this there would be two boards, one for each new organisation.

Highlight report - new Inspection Agency

On the commission for the new inspectorate, JMc advised that the project team are progressing through all deliverables.

She confirmed that there had been some engagement with headteachers and associate assessors in relation to the development of the new inspectorate in additional to a review of feedback from existing reports and consultations with stakeholders. Further engagement with stakeholders will take place in the new year following the development of the draft Target Operating Model (TOM).

Highlight report - the new National Agency for Scottish Education

PW gave a brief overview of the progress being made on the commission for the new National Agency for Scottish Education, highlighting that the team is on track to achieve each of the deliverables. As with the new inspectorate project team, an extensive review of feedback from existing consultations had been undertaken.  Additional engagement with stakeholders will also take place in the new year.

The board noted the importance of educational practitioners having the opportunity to engage in the reform process and it was suggested that some protected time should be made available, possibly through an in-service session, to allow all staff to contribute.

The progress the two project teams were making was noted by DB members.

Communications and engagements update

TR provided a short update on communications and engagement. She stressed that SG were the lead partner in this work at strategic level, although ES and SQA (Scottish Qualifications Authority) have an opportunity to input and inform the approach. A visual is currently being created which will illustrate the different elements of the education reform and how it all fits together.

Within ES, communications are focussing much more on providing information and updates on the work of the two project teams.

Introduction and context to ES commissions

GH provided a brief introduction and context in relation to the remaining agenda items. She reminded members of the broad vision of the education reform programme, which is much more than simply creating three new organisations. 
The importance of getting it right for Scotland’s learners is at the heart of the aspirations of the reform work.

The objective of the DB is to look collectively at designing and delivering the two new organisations that will be part of a national organisation structure for education in Scotland that more effectively supports the system as a whole.
The agreed design principles in creating the new organisations are that they will both be:

  • user centred
  • data focussed
  • flexible to change
  • learning organisations
  • digital by default
  • collaborative
  • operate in a sustainable way

When this comes together in the new organisations/system, that should result in significantly new ways of working and cultural shifts across the wider system.

These design principles, together with the commissions from SG and a target operating model “playbook”, outlining the key processes, policies and operating procedures for the new organisation will be used to design and develop the new organisations.

Each project team will provide DB members with an overview of the work undertaken to date, current thinking, an overview of the “As Is” state for the current organisation which should help to inform the thinking for developing a “future state” for each of the new organisations. Feedback and constructive challenge from DB members is essential over the course of the day.

New Inspection Agency

JMc circulated a confidential working document which provided an initial draft of the Target Operating Model for the new inspection agency. She provided a brief overview of the methodology that had been used, which was in line with the Scottish approach to service design and which put users’ experience and perspective at the heart.

She then outlined some thinking in relation to the function and value of the new inspectorate, together with a series of principles to underpin the new organisation.

There followed discussion, during which DB members noted that there needs to be considerable change in how the new inspection agency works to help support a culture shift across the whole education system. The value base needs to be right and to build on professional trust/dialogue. The empowerment agenda was also an important factor to consider whilst designing the new agency.

The board agreed there were too many principles and that it would be necessary to distil and combine them into four or five key principles.  

The need to consider the underlying philosophy of the approach to inspection, which was highlighted at the previous meeting, was raised again – it may not be necessary, and possibly not desirable, to stick with the existing model of inspection. An alternative model could involve the inspection agency only inspecting the organisations responsible for improvement, rather than all establishments. A new model, such as this one, could act as a lever for system change and reform.

Scotland’s commitment to fair work should also be borne in mind.

The project team then provided a high level outline of the draft target operating model for the new inspectorate, building on the design principles previously outlined. Some high level problems associated with the current approach were also identified, some of which were challenged by DB members, in particular the statement that learners wait too long to have their education experience evaluated.  

The following key points were noted prior to the discussion ending.

  • the presentation provided the building blocks for a new organisation but there was a need to consider alternative models of inspection
  • budget challenges may require a shared service approach to some corporate functions
  • the scale and size of the organisation was still to be worked up and would be dependent on budget
  • the importance of iterative discussions to take us to the final model
  • consideration to using the word “assurance” rather than “inspection”

Delivery Board members thanked the project team for all their work to date and looked forward to seeing the model developing over the coming weeks.

New National Education Agency

The project team outlined their approach to the development of the new education agency. They stressed they were aware of the need for reform and that the new agency would need to look and feel quite different to ES. Some of the key challenges facing ES in its current format were highlighted and it was agreed that there was a general lack of clarity amongst external stakeholders about what the organisation did, largely because of the way the organisation had evolved over time.

A stakeholder map was shared with DB members, who were asked to discuss who they saw as the key stakeholders for the new agency. The large number of stakeholders on the map was noted and DB members reflected that it would be important to focus on a small number of key stakeholders with whom to actively engage. This was noted by the project team.

The three key functions of the new agency, as identified by the Cabinet Secretary were then shared with DB members who were asked to consider which of the current ES services would continue to be relevant. This generated significant discussion and highlighted the need for clarity of purpose and the need to narrow the focus of the new agency. There was a view that its key purpose should be to support educational practitioners and to support them in learning, teaching and assessment, through the provision of targeted support and online resources and guidance.

The project team noted the feedback from DB members, who thanked the team for their hard work in developing the model for the new agency.

Conclusion and next steps    

GH thanked DB members and the project teams for a stimulating and thought-provoking day. She noted that there was still considerable work to do in the development of the draft Target Operating Models but that the feedback today from DB members would be of considerable help in taking this work forward.

Any further feedback could be sent directly to either Janie or Patricia.

Date of next meeting

The next meeting would be on 19 December 2022.

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