Education Reform Programme Board minutes: June 2023

Minutes of the meeting on 6 June 2023.

This document is part of a collection

Attendees and apologies


  • Clare Hicks (CH)
  • Gillian Hamilton (GH)
  • Matthew Sweeney (MS)
  • Michael Wood (MW)
  • John Wilson (JW)
  • Adela Mansur (AM)
  • Stuart Greig (SG)
  • Victoria Bruce (VB)
  • Geoff Huggins (GH)
  • Laura Murdoch (LM)
  • Ken Muir (KM)
  • Lisa Bird (LB)
  • Liz McGrath (LMcG)
  • Patricia Watson (PW)
  • Janie McManus (JM)
  • Chris Dunne (CD)
  • Sarah Hart (SH)


  • Fiona Robertson (FR)
  • Laura Cavan (LC)
  • Des Murray (DM)
  • Douglas Hutchison (DH)
  • Graeme Logan (GL)
  • Andrew Watson (AW)
  • Stephen Pathirana (SP)
  • Stephen Kerr (SK)
  • Jenny Stewart (JS)
  • Nicky Richards (NR)
  • Robert Malpass (RM)
  • Tibs Zaheer (TZ)
  • Louise Hayward (LH)
  • Mike Baxter (MB)


  • Sean Stronach (SS)
  • Jo Martin (JM)
  • Tracy Manning (TM)
  • Cheryl Paris (CP)
  • Lesley Whelan (LW)


  • Gill Winters (GW)

Items and actions

Summary of decisions and action points

  • SS to share final OECD report with Board members - PB06062023-AP80
  • Attendees to send in any additional feedback on Target Operating Model (TOM) presentations to Education Reform PMO mailbox by 16/06/23 - PB06062023-AP81

Welcome and introductions

CH welcomed members to the 12th meeting of the Programme Board and first in-person meeting. She noted apologies and welcomed guests.

She noted that this Programme Board would focus on a deep dive into the proposed TOMs for the New Inspectorate and New Agency, adding that an update would also be given on the progress on the New Qualifications body TOM.

CH updated the Board on wider reform, noting the recent debate on the National Discussion. She added that the new Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills was taking the opportunity to look holistically at Education Reform, including the Withers and Hayward reviews, and progress to date on the reform of the education bodie.

Minutes and actions from PB11

Minutes from the 11th Programme Board meeting were issued on 25 April 2023. Comments were received via correspondence and minutes will be now marked as approved. GW took Programme Board through actions in the log. Out of nine open actions, six have closed and four remain open/ ongoing.

New qualifications body – interim TOM update

LMcG gave an update on development of the New Qualifications Body TOM, confirming a draft TOM will be presented at the Delivery Board on 8th June for feedback and comment with final submission on track for 30th June. She added that the summary paper included details of dependencies, assumptions as well as an impact analysis of funding models, roles and responsibilities thematic work and the Hayward and Withers reviews. She noted the project status was red due to delays to finance decisions and progression of thematic projects.

CH noted that the proposed TOM would be submitted to her as SRO, following consideration by the Delivery Board as set out by LMcG.  It would go through the agreed approval process and then come to the Programme Board for consideration.

OECD peer learning

SS gave an update on the recent OECD led peer learning activity on Optimising multi-level support for school improvement. This was taken forward as part of work feeding into the thematic project on roles and responsibilities, a draft PID for which will be the subject of wider engagement shortly.

The OECD peer learning event focused on one important, but specific aspect of the roles and responsibilities project – support for improvement. The other aspects agreed with Programme Board – curriculum leadership; quality assurance and evaluation; data, evidence and record-keeping; and professional development - will be also addressed through the thematic project.

In relation to the specific school improvement focus, the events showed there was a key common core theme around the quality of relationships, and the importance of these being underpinned by a shared set of principles. These relationships need to operate with a clear understanding of organisational roles and responsibilities including Scottish Government, and alignment of priorities across the system.

It was noted that although the final OECD report will not have Scottish specific recommendations, it will be of interest to the Board and will be shared when available.

Action – SS to share final OECD report with Board members

Owner – Sean Stronach

Due by – Autumn 2023

TOM submission – new inspectorate

JM gave an overview of the proposed TOM for the New Inspectorate. This covered the approach taken to developing the TOM, the analysis of existing data and research that underpins it, alongside the identification of key strengths and current challenges which the TOM is seeking to address.

The proposed TOM focussed on three future services; to provide public accountability, support education providers and share evidence to improve and inform educational policy and practice. There was a strong focus on the use of associate assessors and a shift towards greater self-evaluation and peer review / learning, in addition to signalling how digitisation could improve both the process and methods of engagement.

The Board welcomed the updated proposals, noting good progress whilst recognising there were interdependencies to be addressed.  There needs to be a balance of what inspections provide in terms of assurance and for improvement. The model and methodology for inspection, and supporting frameworks will be crucial, and must be sufficiently agile to meet changing needs. It was noted that proposed user interest groups, which will go beyond leaders, will help ensure the voices of practitioners are heard and acted on. These groups will be different according to the sectors in which inspection is operating.

The Board noted that further consideration would be required as to how the new Inspectorate will sit in the context of wider reform, how the wider system will engage with the Inspectorate, and how the Inspectorate itself will engage with other scrutiny bodies.   As the work develops, proposals will need to be assessed in relation to the financial context, now and in the future.

The Board concluded that the proposed TOM provided a good degree of confidence regarding progress and thanked the teams for their hard work.

TOM submission – new agency

PW gave an overview of the proposed TOM for the New Agency, noting this has evolved from the first iteration and feedback received. The development of the TOM has focussed on understanding and addressing the case for change. This has involved assessing the ‘as is’, some self-evaluation and a strong focus on the problem statements that were identified at the outset.

The proposed TOM focussed on five high level functions: Curriculum, including curriculum design and review and curriculum innovation; Learning, Teaching and Assessment; Professional learning and system leadership; Research, evaluation and data; and Digital delivery

Within these functions, three options have been developed  with option one, the status quo with only the removal of the scrutiny function, being discounted. The remaining options were discussed in more detail.

Option 2 is where the new agency would operate at a strategic level within the system. It would engage with educators in many aspects of its work, for example curriculum design and review, and also with system leaders, including headteachers, where appropriate.  

Option 3 proposed a model that included all the functions and services within option 2 with the addition of the agency co-designing and co-delivering with the system, so with a greater focus on working at a more grassroots level.

In both options the new agency would be underpinned by an enhanced research, evaluation and data function which would inform the approach of the agency and also help it to prioritise services, policy development and improvement activity.

The Board welcomed the proposal, noting the progress that had been made.  In discussing options 2 and 3, it was suggested that this could be viewed as a single evolutionary option, moving from the current system through to an approach in line with option 3, and then based on the experience and intelligence, moving to an approach closer to option 2.  This could move a future education system to become a more empowered system where the capacity of the system is enhanced, with greater expertise to deliver improvements. This would then enable the new agency to shift to a more strategic role.  This initial phase of bottom-up approaches to engagement, data, research and evidence, could bring equity across the system for users and support greater regional collaboration.

A further variation on this theme was the suggestion that the approach could focus on an ‘option 2 plus’ with a strategic core and the flexibility to deploy targeted resource more locally on a strictly prioritised basis.

The Board acknowledged the work done on the TOM

LB noted that we would welcome additional thoughts and feedback on both the TOMs presented at the Board.

Action – Attendees to send in any additional feedback on TOM presentations  to Education Reform PMO mailbox

Owner – Board members

Due by – 16/06/23

Review and close meeting

LB thanked the Board for their contributions and ended the meeting, noting the next meeting date is to be confirmed.

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