Education Reform Programme Board minutes: December 2022

Minutes of the meeting on 13 December 2022

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Attendees and apologies

Attendees and apologies 

  • Clare Hicks (CH)
  • Fiona Robertson (FR)
  • Gayle Gorman (GG)
  • Des Murray (DM)
  • Douglas Hutchison (DH)
  • John Wilson (JW)
  • Adela Mansur (AM)
  • Graeme Logan (GL)
  • Stephen Pathirana (SP)
  • Andrew Watson (AW)
  • Eleanor Passmore (EP)
  • Geoff Huggins (GeH)
  • Laura Murdoch (LM)
  • Stephen Kerr (SK)
  • Robert Malpass (RP)
  • Ken Muir (KM)
  • Louise Haywood (LH)
  • Lisa Bird (LB)
  • Liz McGrath (LMcG)
  • Gillian Hamilton (GH)
  • Chris Dunne (CD)
  • Robert Skey (RS)
  • Mathew Sweeney (MS)


  • Nicky Richards
  • Laura Cavan 
  • Peter Hookway 


  • Mike Baxter (MB)
  • Raymond Holloway (RH)
  • Sarah Widdall (SW)
  • Janie McManus (JM)
  • Patricia Watson (PW)
  • Alison Macdonald (AMac)
  • Lesley Whelan (LW)
  • Gillian Kierans (GK)
  • Sean Stronach (SS)
  • Chris Graham (CG)
  • Neil Cardwell (NC)
  • Jo Martin (JM)


  • Gill Winters

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

CH welcomed members to this Extraordinary Programme Board and noted apologies received. Welcome extended to Des Murray who will be joining the Board in place of Grace Vickers as SOLACE Scotland policy lead for Education. She noted and welcomed guests from Education Scotland (ES) and Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) who were in attendance to support the Delivery Directors with Target Operating Model (TOM) presentations.

Setting the scene 

LB took the Board through the TOM development journey so far, setting the scene for today’s meeting. She recapped on where the reform of public bodies sits in the wider context of education and lifelong learning, the opportunities presented by Professor Muir’s work, the decisions taken so far and the advisory role of the Programme Board to date. She described the purpose of the TOMs, making links to the forthcoming horizontal commissioning and finished on the 7 design principles which should be used as a framing device for the day.

She noted the following sessions would allow the Board to test the high-level representation of TOM development against these principles, and consider progress from the ‘as is’ to the ‘to be’ TOM. 

New inspectorate TOM development 

GH introduced JMc to lead the Board through the high level summary of the TOM development work for the new Inspectorate. She detailed the approach to the work reflecting on, the problem statement, the Muir report  recommendations, analysis and decision process, defining the benefits and opportunities against functions and services, linking back to the design framework.

The Board noted the progress made to date.  It was agreed that there is further work to be done to build upon this including developing the breadth and depth of options, budget and capacity. It was noted that the TOM will include options and costings which will be reviewed in line with budget for the programme in the Business Case.

New qualifications body TOM development   

MB introduced RH and SW to share progress on the TOM development for the new qualifications body. He noted that the work so far was high level with more detailed work to follow, highlighting that there remained some key dependencies and interdependencies that would impact the TOM development. The presentation covered the value proposition canvas approach looking at enablers, requirements and constraints. It highlighted the need for a joined-up approach to digital services that meet the needs of all system users.

The Board noted progress and agreed the need for an overarching digital approach across all three new bodies, aligning to Scottish Government digital strategy. The development of a clear digital strategy is reflected as a horizontal commission, which will draw on the digital elements highlighted in the TOMs to date.

It was also noted that current work rightly focuses on process and structure, and that the approach will need take on board developments that arise from the reviews of qualifications and assessment and the National Discussion.

The Board asked that in future iterations, it would be good to see more on how user voices will inform decision-making, and how reform will impact the experience of children, young people, schools and councils in interacting with national bodies.

The board commented that the design principles appear to be applied fairly flexibly, and there may be a gap emerging between the expectations in the Muir report and the plans at present.  This needs to be monitored carefully.

New agency TOM development  

GH introduced PW to lead the Board through the high level summary of the TOM development work for the new agency. She talked through the approach taken; mapping the ‘as is’, reviewing feedback, identifying what’s working well and opportunities for change. This identified areas of overlap, duplication of effort, unclear ownership, as well as inconsistency of service delivery. This has led to the consideration of the core purpose and development of three high level key functions, which would be supported by multi-functional skills-based teams to build flex within the new organisation.

The Board noted the need for strong links across the three new bodies. The roles and responsibilities work will help shape this. The Board also noted the need to ensure that further communication and engagement on the system change reflected in the design of the new bodies focused on clear articulation on the educational benefit which the reform will deliver.

The focus for Delivery Boards through to December has been on the strategic requirements (the ‘why’ and ‘what’) to help lay the necessary policy foundations and inform related legislation.

Overall, the Programme Board agreed that more work is needed to translate the opportunities identified in the Muir report into specific options for the future.

Summary and close

Overall, the Board noted that the presentations were more evolution than radical transformation and further work was needed to scope governance, leadership and the realities of the financial envelope available.  There was also a need to further articulate the impact on children and young people.

CH invited KM to summarise his thoughts on the presentations given today. He firstly offered his thanks to the teams who had presented today and the others who had been involved in TOM development work.

KM noted that the education system in Scotland was complex and change was not easy, but that radical reform is still possible. The system needs to fundamentally embrace change and become a change ready system. Change should not be seen as an event, but as something that supports continuous improvement. He also added that a shift to a collaborative mindset has to happen at all levels, and in all bodies, as well as directorates within the Scottish Government.

He acknowledged that the TOM development work is in early stages and the need to ensure that proposals are sufficiently forward looking. Governance, culture and leadership need to be fully considered in all, informed by experts and users.

Bodies need to be agile and designed to be change ready to respond to continuous improvement, understanding that reform is an ongoing process.

He noted that a cultural shift was needed to create a future proof, agile, listening system which embraced lifelong learning. Reform should not be seen as a rebranding exercise, or a variation on what we have. Services and how these are delivered need to change with focus on users being front and centre.


CH thanked the presenters and all those involved for all their hard work in getting us to this point. She thanked the Board for their contributions, noting she would welcome any further comment by correspondence.

She noted that next steps would be agreed following a review of today’s meeting and receipt of any further comment.

The next Programme Board will be moved from 17 January to 24 January 2023.

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