Education Reform Inspectorate and Agency Delivery Boards minutes: August 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the Education Reform Inspectorate and Agency Delivery Boards, held August 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Gillian Hamilton (Chair)
  • Maureen Hamilton, ES
  • Magnus Hughson, PCS    
  • Patricia Watson, ES    
  • Sean Stronach, SG    
  • Frances Douglas, ES    
  • Greg Dempster    
  • Tracy Reilly, ES    
  • Laurence Findlay
  • Harold Hislop
  • Chris Preston
  • Les Byle (BMO)    


  • Janie McManus
  • Kerrie Laird
  • Ken McAra, FDA    
  • Tracy Manning (SG)
  • Andrea Bradley
  • Ann Cura (PMO)    

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies 

GH opened the meeting and extended a warm welcome to attendees. Apologies were noted as above.

GH made the group aware that the term PMO used on the DB papers is shorthand for the Programme Management Office.

Minutes and actions from 7 July 2022 DB meeting

A number of points were highlighted in respect of the 7 July minute:

SS reiterated the point (Agenda Point 2, Noted 1 from 7 July minute) that although ES made the suggestion to amalgamate the separate delivery boards (one for the new inspectorate body and one for the new education agency) into one delivery board, SS clarified that it was a Programme decision to agree to do so.

GD raised a point about the language being used in drafting the minute, raising agenda point 3, noted three from 7 July minute as an example and the use of the words coherent and coherence.

Actions and decisions log

The three actions listed on the action log are all complete. 

Scottish Government (SG) Reform Programme Governance

SS gave a brief overview of the agreed SG approach to governance in terms of the education reform programme and emphasised some key points around the structure and work of the different boards and groups involved in this work. 

SS highlighted that the Cabinet Secretary has been very clear that there is a core role for users and stakeholders in the whole education reform process and that although the stakeholder reference group sits alongside and will feed into the Strategic Board, a user focussed and engagement approach will permeate the whole programme.

SS also spoke to the slide below. It is included here for reference as it was not issued along with the other papers for this meeting.

GH advised the group that both Gayle Gorman (Chief Executive of Education Scotland) and Fiona Robertson (Chief Executive of the Scottish Qualifications Authority) sit on the Programme Strategic Board.

She also advised the group that Gillian herself, as well as Mike Baxter (SQA), are both part of the Programme Director Group and have started meeting formally to ensure there is coherence across the commissions.

There was some discussion around Accreditation and Regulation, and where this might sit in the new organisations.

SS stated that whilst the Cabinet Secretary accepted the rationale (of the Ken Muir report) that A&R should be separate from the awarding functions of SQA, she did not agree it should sit in the new education agency due to the working relationship between the agency and Scottish Government. Further advice will be given to the Cabinet Secretary and a final decision around A&R is still to be made (by the Cabinet Secretary).

GD raised a point around the responsibility of this DB to ‘provide challenge and scrutiny on spend against budget and financial planning assumptions….’, as well as questions around the resourcing of the new agency and inspectorate, and any further information about any financial constraints. 

Action: Raise the question of financial constraints/budget assumptions at the next Programme Strategic Board.

Education Scotland’s approach to delivery

GH introduced the paper and spoke about Education Scotland’s approach to operationalising the Scottish Government’s Programme governance. She reiterated the point made by SS at agenda point 2, that Education Scotland are taking forward their work with one delivery board covering the new agency and new inspectorate at the outset, rather than two separate delivery boards. Otherwise there was a danger of lack of coherence and a risk of duplication of work. This may need to be reviewed as the work progresses.

GH highlighted that the work she is undertaking, as well as the work being led by Patricia Watson and Janie McManus, is on behalf of the Scottish Government.

GH advised the group that non-executives who already support Education Scotland will continue to play an important role in overseeing the current work of Education Scotland until the establishment of any new organisations.

Commissions update

CP gave an overview of the progress being made on the commission for the new inspectorate body. The key milestones achieved can be viewed within the paper provided for agenda point 9 - highlight reports.

SS made the point that the core of our endeavour is about establishing organisations which have the flexibility and capability to be able to develop and grow over time to deliver what the education system will continue to need.

GH recognised the need to determine the right point to bring work/projects to the delivery board and she will pick that up internally with ES colleagues.

PW gave an overview of the progress being made on the commission for the new education agency. The key milestones achieved can be viewed within the paper provided for agenda point 9 - highlight reports.

A Programme Manager for the new agency is not yet in place and so this piece of work has not progressed as quickly as the work of the new inspectorate.

Business case

Agenda point 7 was discussed immediately following agenda point 5 but the note of discussion has been included here for ease of reference.

GH highlighted to the group that capacity is an issue, given the ongoing work of the organisation as well as the work required for reform, and noted the continuing recruitment and budget challenges.

A business case was submitted to SG for additional funding for a small number of key staff to lead and support the reform work. 

SG have provided confirmation of some funding to support the business case, but not the full amount. This will enable recruitment for four posts, likely to be filled by internal ES staff. 

GH advised that ES are operating with tight budget constraints in this financial year and that ES are having to look strategically at work the organisation might need to pause or stop doing.

Linkages with other organisations was discussed. In designing the new education agencies, this DB needs to have a focus on how the new agencies could work and link with other organisations and bodies.

SS advised there is a cross cutting piece of work about the overall governance, accountability and relationships between the different bodies and this is now being picked up as a matter of priority by SG.

Group members recognised that this would be an opportunity to avoid / remove duplication across the education system. It’s also a good opportunity to be really clear about the roles, responsibilities and partnership working of the different bodies across the education landscape.

GH provided feedback on the terms of reference on behalf of Andrea Bradley who could not attend the DB meeting today.AB commented that ‘supporting, enabling and empowering teachers and other educational professionals in their professional endeavours’ could be stronger and that there may be an opportunity to link this to the Empowerment Agenda.

AB also wanted to flag the importance of aligning what is coming through the National Discussion to what is expected/being asked of the new education agencies.

On the responsibilities of board members, AB suggest changing the wording ‘resolving issues/blockers within their own areas of influence’ to ‘seek to resolve’.

Communications and engagements update

TR (ES internal comms) and FD (ES external comms) provided an update on comms activity. 

Communications to date have been largely focussed internally towards Education Scotland staff, keeping them informed of the progress of the reform work.

ES comms colleagues have regular meetings with colleagues in Scottish Government and in the Scottish Qualification Authority.

Key discussions thus far has been around how stakeholders will understand the different elements of education reform and comms are working on a joint narrative that summarises the whole picture. This will detail how, when and where stakeholders can contribute and how the different strands of work will align.

Early discussions have taken place to develop a ‘Programme Brand’ for education reform with the intention of making it more user friendly in an attempt to increase the likelihood of engagement in this work.

Highlight reports

Agenda Point 9 was covered as part of discussion at Agenda Point 6.

Risk register

MH explained that the risk register is in a transition stage as ownership shifts from the ES Change Team to this DB.

Resourcing was highlighted as a key area of concern.

A fuller discussion is needed to unpick which of these risks ES needs to manage itself in terms of delivery of its business as usual, while the reform programme is on-going, and what are the risks pertinent to the work of the DB.

Action: PMO to move the risk register further up the agenda for the 1 September 2022 meeting to allow a more in depth discussion.

Any other business

The date of the next DB meeting will be 1 September 2022 at 09.30 on Microsoft Teams.

There was general consensus that a future DB meeting should take place in a physical location. 

Decision: The duration of the 1 September 2022 meeting should be extended from 90 minutes to two hours.

Action: PMO to issue a revised calendar request to reflect the extended meeting duration.

GH thanked everyone for their time and contribution before bringing the meeting to a close.

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