Education Reform Inspectorate and Agency Delivery Board minutes: September 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the Education Reform Inspectorate Agency and Delivery Board, held in September 2022.

This document is part of a collection

Attendees and apologies

  • Gillian Hamilton (Chair)
  • Patricia Watson
  • Sean Stronach
  • Greg Dempster
  • Tracy Reilly
  • Janie McManus
  • Kerrie Laird
  • Ken McAra
  • Harold Hislop
  • Andrea Bradley
  • Les Byle (PMO)    


  • Ann Cura (PMO)
  • Maureen Hamilton
  • Magnus Hughson    
  • Laurence Findlay
  • Frances Douglas

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies 

GH opened the meeting and extended a warm welcome to attendees, particularly Kerrie Laird and Andrea Bradley, who were attending for the first time. Apologies were noted as above.

Minutes and actions from 28 July 2022 Delivery Board meeting

The minute of 28 July 2022 was agreed as accurate. No edits required.

Delivery Board members confirmed they are happy to be individually named within the minute.

Members asked for clarification regarding publication of minutes – both from the Delivery Board and the Strategic Programme Board. 

SS fully expects there to be a continued high level of interest across all of the reform work and Delivery Boards and the overall approach to publication is to be as open and transparent as possible.

Action – GH will ask if the minute of the Strategic Programme Board can be shared with this Delivery Board.

Action – GH to ask if the minute of Delivery Board meetings will be published.

Actions and decisions log

The three actions listed on the action log are all complete. Members agreed to move these to ‘completed actions’. No further updates required.

Risk register

GH highlighted that the current risks are largely internal risks that originated within Education Scotland. There is a requirement now for members of this Delivery Board to begin to think about additional risks that may not yet have been captured.

There are currently nine risks and two live issues.

It was agreed that CT-02 be transferred to the Education Scotland Corporate Risk Register. It was agreed that CT-03 be transferred to the Education Scotland Corporate Services and Governance Risk Register.

Action – PMO to take necessary action to move CT-02 and CT-03 to appropriate Education Scotland Risk Register.

A group discussion followed giving consideration to what risks may need to be included on the register. Thought was also given to risk topics that may be more suitably directed elsewhere.

There was broad agreement that the issue regarding rates paid for accommodation and travel expenses should be discussed within the current agency and not added to the DB Risk Register. However, it will be important not to lose sight of this as part of the planning for new organisations. This can also be picked up at the next ES Partnership Board meeting.

SS highlighted a possible risk of not designing a new agency/inspectorate that will deliver the user focused outcomes that have been envisaged through Ken Muir’s report and the SG response.

AB spoke about the real risk of insufficient support to schools if Education Scotland is trying to do too many things. She noted that some schools and teachers may already be of the view that they have not received the support that they have sought from Education Scotland previously, and this may be compounded if ES are stretched further trying to manage the transition to the new agency/inspectorate as well as providing continued system support.

PW suggested that CT-04 may be more appropriate for the ES Corporate Risk Register.

Board members discussed possible financial risk, given that there is no information regarding the financial envelope for the new agency or the new inspectorate. Therefore there may be a risk of over promising and under delivering if it turns out at a later date that the financial backing is not available in line with what is proposed as part of the TOM.

Staff wellbeing remains a concern if ES are not able to recruit and/or retain staff, which has implications for delivery in addition to staff wellbeing related to the reform process itself. GH reassured DB members that this is something ES Leadership Team are very conscious of, and discuss challenges and mitigations regularly.

SS suggested that a good next step may be to have a discussion with Chris Dunne (Programme Manager for Education Reform) who has been doing work on the overall programme approach to risk management. Some of the risks highlighted today have been raised across the whole programme, so need to ensure the risks are located in the right place within the programme governance.

Update on wider reform work

GH gave an update on the wider reform work taking place. She noted that the Strategic Programme Board took place on the 16 August 2022. Topics discussed included:

Risk Strategy – Chris Dunne shared the Risk Strategy for the overall approach to risk management across the whole programme. There was a good discussion around risk appetite and the need to ensure there is space for innovation and creativity in the reform work that is being taken forward.

Finance risk was also discussed in terms of available budget at this stage of reform work as well as for the new organisations. There should be more detailed information available in the next version of the Strategic Outline Case, which should be shared with the Strategic Programme Board in September.

Timelines for legislation was also discussed.

Work of the Strategic Programme Board thus far has focused on establishing the governance, getting the different boards in place and ensuring appropriate representation.

External communications/engagement will be a key agenda item at the next Strategic Programme Board. 

SS has confirmed that much of the additional analysis and data from the Ken Muir consultation will be made available, and that work is underway. This will help in efforts to avoid engagement fatigue and duplication, and it is expected that this will be available to the project teams by the end of September. Board members welcomed this approach.

Finance update

GH outlined the background to the finance update that was included in the meeting papers.

Education Scotland previously submitted a business case to the Scottish Government. Only part of the requested budget was approved, and the availability of this budget has now been confirmed in writing.

As a result of funding confirmation, Education Scotland have been able to make progress on recruitment. GH clarified that the roles recruited so far include:

  • senior lead officers for the commissions (2.5 staff members in total)
  • project managers for the commissions (two staff members in total)
  • business partners for the commissions (two staff members in total – still being progressed)

There is an expectation of further funding for future years. There is therefore a requirement to revise the business case and consider what further roles will be required as the work progresses.

GH advised the aim is to submit this revised business case by the end of 2022.

GH noted that Education Scotland are currently absorbing a lot of reform work from existing Education Scotland core budget, including senior staff roles.

GD stressed the importance of having an understanding of the budget available to take the work forward and noted the importance of including costings in what might at this stage be very draft target operating models.

SS highlighted the very tight financial position we are working in across Scottish Government. He suggested that we take at face value what we have been asked to do, which is to take a user focussed approach to design both of the new organisations.

Members felt that it was important to raise issues around finance/budget at Strategic Board level as well as in regular discussions with senior SG colleagues (as GH is already doing) as the correct forum for this to be properly considered. 

GH made the final point that there are parallel conversations taking place with the new qualifications delivery board regarding finance.

Highlight reports

PW gave an overview of the progress being made on the commission for the new education agency, confirming that work is moving at pace and a draft project plan is now in place. She will share this with DB members by correspondence ahead of the next meeting. Delays in filling the Business Partner role is causing some concern, though there is a contingency plan in place until this is completed. 

Action – PW to share draft new Agency project plan with DB members for feedback by correspondence before the next DB meeting.

PW was happy to receive confirmation that the further data/analysis of Ken Muir work will now be made available, stating that the time taken to receive this should have been highlighted as an issue previously. 

PW expressed some concern on how challenging it will be to meet the deliverables within the timeline. Given the tight timeframe for completion of the Commission, PW asked for clarity around the expectations for the Target Operating Model. What ‘product’ is the Strategic Board looking for? How much detail is being sought? What should the final product look like by the end of 2022? How much detail should her team provide on costings?

There followed a discussion around those points. 

SS confirmed that a fully developed target operating model is not what is expected by the end of 2022. What is envisaged by the end of 2022, is a TOM that looks at the strategic layer of the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ of the new organisations. It will be in 2023 that we take that high level TOM and start to look at ‘how’ it will be delivered. 

It was agreed that it may be helpful to invite colleagues who developed the ‘playbook’ (which essentially sets out some of the overall approach) to a future DB meeting to help understanding.

Action – GH to consider building in some time at future DB meetings for colleagues to discuss the ‘playbook’.

JMc gave an overview of the progress being made on the commission for the new inspectorate. This first stage has included gathering of information and a lot of engagement with staff teams to finalise the ‘as is’ aspect of the commission. 

The small team have also spent a great deal of time looking at legislation through three different lenses:

  • powers and duties sit with Scottish Ministers but are enacted by inspectors
  • duty sits with inspectors directly
  • legislation that requires inspectors to act on information

JMc advised that she will be able to present information to the next Delivery Board.

The project team will use existing user research and feedback which has already been gathered and references to the inspectorate, including reports such as the Morgan Review.

She made the point that we may need to consider bringing the DB together more frequently than just the scheduled monthly meetings if there is too much information coming together at the same time from the two commissions in line with the deadlines set out by the Strategic Board. 

Group members asked to be sighted on the ‘as is’ work (of both commissions), to allow them to be involved in the discussions about ‘what might be’. Group members also offered to provide feedback on early drafts of the work of the project teams.

PW and JMc welcomed that offer.

SS suggested it would be useful to map out what might be coming to the DB meetings and when in terms of papers/information.

GH agreed and advised this is part of the work underway in both commissions in terms of project planning and the need to ensure alignment with the cycle of board meetings.

Communications and engagements update

TR provided an update on comms activity. A dedicated staff engagement session will take place at least once a month with a focus on reform work. This month staff were provided with an opportunity to engage with the development of the new inspectorate.

There is a dedicated intranet space which is updated regularly with all aspects of the reform work, including the work of the reform delivery boards.

ES Comms colleagues have regular meetings with colleagues in Scottish Government and in the Scottish Qualification Authority, and there is a draft Communications and Engagement Strategy being developed.

ES Comms team have a first meeting today with new Project Managers to look at the draft project plans and think about the key communications that will be needed.

DB members raised concerns that there is confusion about sequencing and the relationship between the different pieces of reform work and different Board meetings that are taking place, and also what the reform work may look like in terms of workload for schools. They felt that the communications around the entirety of Reform work needs to be clearer, as does the clarity of the engagement opportunities and the intention to engage and to listen. 

DB members stressed the importance of highlighting that the work/engagement that has been done previously is being taken into account, and that the different Delivery Boards are talking to each other.

SS advised that the Scottish government are acutely aware of these concerns and pointed out that there are efforts being made to bring all of the pieces together in terms of communication and engagement.

It was noted that a number of professional bodies have conferences planned. These will provide a good opportunity to work pro-actively with these associations around progress updates and to organise sessions where members can actively contribute, where the profession will be listened to and their views/thoughts taken on board.

There is a need to ensure there are opportunities for Early Learning & Childcare staff to engage in the process. GH advised some discussions are taking place to ascertain whether or not ELC should be represented on the Delivery Board itself.

A number of DB members offered to listen to and provide feedback on any presentations/sessions that may be taking place.

Action – TR will e-mail her comms colleagues a readout of the points raised about communications work and will discuss in more detail at their next scheduled meeting.

Action – GH will raise Communications approach at the next Strategic Programme Board meeting.

Action – GH will scope out requirements for the next few Delivery Board meetings in an effort to ensure the best use of members’ time.

Action – GH to give further consideration to having ELC representation on the Delivery Board. 

Internal audit terms of reference

GH introduced the paper, advising its inclusion was for information purposes for DB members.

GH gave some background on the audit processes within Education Scotland, highlighting that ES are subject to both internal and external audit.

As part of this piece of advisory work being undertaken by IA on Education Scotland’s approach to reform, regular updates will be provided to management and the Audit and Risk Committee as the year progresses. Key areas of focus being:

  • staff communication/engagement
  • internal governance arrangements
  • how ES lead and manage change 

It was also noted that a Scottish Government Gateway Review on the Reform Programme is scheduled for WC 12 September. It is expected that GH, PW, SS and JMc will be approached to contribute to this.

Next meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for the 13 October 2022. As this falls in the middle of school holidays, DB members asked if this could be brought forward.

The meeting following that is scheduled for the 14 November 2022. DB members asked if this could be rearranged.

Action – PMO to work with Gillian Hamilton to agree suitable alternative dates and issue a doodle poll to DB members to ascertain optimal dates for attendance for Oct and Nov meetings, and whether they will be virtual or face to face. 

Any other business

No other business was discussed.

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

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