Education Reform Programme Board minutes: March 2022

Minutes from the meeting on 15 March 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Clare Hicks (CH)
  • Graeme Logan (GL)
  • Stephen Pathirana (SP)
  • Elaine Lothian (EL)
  • Liza McLean (LMc), Laura Murdoch (LM)
  • Geoff Huggins (GH)
  • Helena Gray (HG)
  • Stephen Kerr (SK), Michael Chalmers (MC)
  • Louise Hayward (LH)
  • Ken Muir (KM)


  • Nicky Richards
  • Alison Cummings
  • Peter Hookway
  • Jennifer Bradley
  • Robert Skey


  • Jeni Laurent


  • Jill Robertson
  • Jaxon Parish

Items and actions

Summary of decsions and action points

  • PB150322 – AP13: SK and David Wallace (non-Board member) to lead Board item on setting up Social Security Scotland and embedding values at next meeting
  • PB150322 – AP14: SP and ALS team to meet with KM to discuss the SCQFP recommendation further
  • PB150322 – AP15: JR and LMc to have a follow up discussion on the Programme's risk strategy with SK

Welcome and introductions

CH welcomed new non-executive board members, Professor Louise Hayward and Professor Ken Muir, and acknowledged apologies.

Minutes and actions – PB2 (2 February 2022)

JP noted no issues or comments on PB2 minutes and are now approved. Noted outstanding actions points from PB1&2. Aims and Objectives (PB1) will be circulated for approval ahead of PB4, and a resource plan for risk ER20 will be developed and discussed at PB4.

Update on Decision Making Criteria workshop and advice to Cab Sec on Muir report

CH reflected on the previous week and the announcements around Muir report and SG response.

CH noted decision making criteria had been seen before by members, and the purpose of this agenda item was to explain its use in providing advice to the Cabinet Secretary.

LMc gave an overview of the process around assessment of Professor Muir’s recommendations (in the context of two other scenarios – do nothing, and a ‘maximalist’ approach) against the criteria, and the subsequent advice on SG response to Muir report, and shared summary of outcomes from workshop (included in Programme Board papers):

  • Acknowledged the discussion at the previous Board meeting which had influenced how criteria should be weighted and prioritised before analysis.
  • Highlighted the two scenarios Professor Muir’s recommendations were assessed against; do nothing and the proposal put forward by SQA (max change – one single organisation)
  • Emphasised the qualitative understanding driving advice, based on Professor Muir’s consultation and analysis, as well as SG’s own engagement activity.

SG response to Muir report and summary of recommendations

LMc gave an overview of recommendations and SG response (included in Programme Board papers), acknowledging administrative error that led to statement and publications being brought forward

CH highlighted Board members will have an interest in the national conversation recommendation. Interested in Board views on:

  • National conversation on vision for Scottish education;
  • Experience of Social Security Scotland culture and values work, including learning from its use of charters to deliver on expectations of learners and teachers in new education bodies;
  • Accreditation and regulation – linkages with other approaches.

CH flagged it is important to recognise the context we’re in, and that there is a wider context of education reform beyond the programme of work reforming our national bodies.

KM provided some further context to his recommendations:

  • Some recommendations were more tentative than others due to other ongoing education and wider programmes of work, such as National Care Service.
  • Disappointed Scottish Government decided not to move the SCQF as an organisation but glad it has been recognised as the glue that holds learner journey together, and how it can help address longer standing issues such as parity of esteem and recognition of prior learning;
  • Accept the issue with accreditation needing to be independent, but was alive to concerns about numbers of new public bodies;
  • Important part of the package is rebuilding trust and confidence particularly with qualifications, but across the wider system.

SK suggested an item on Social Security Scotland in terms of establishing the agency and process of values and culture being embedded.

Action - SK and David Wallace (non-Board member) to lead Board item on setting up Social Security Scotland and embedding values at a future meeting.
Owner - SK.
Deadline - 26 April 2022

GL highlighted the need for continuity and safeguarding delivery of current priorities, especially with current large list of actions sitting with Education Scotland. Also highlighted the need to take forward national discussion in a dynamic way and really motivate the broadest range of stakeholders to engage, recognising what the parameters and connections there are across other visions, such as in Children and Families.

SP happy for the opportunity to comment on the SCQF Partnership and requested to speak with Professor Muir to understand the recommendation further. Agreed with KM on interlinkages such as SFC, and highlighted the strategic intent for tertiary can be viewed as vision for this area – there is a need to articulate this across education and skills landscape.

Action - SP and ALS team to meet with KM to discuss the SCQF Partnership recommendation further
Owners - SP and KM
Deadline - by 26 April 2022

LH noted the relationship between the national conversation and qualifications review work – need to consider how work is presented and that it is not being seen as “cart before horse”. Flagged interest in the charter idea and relationship with SCQF –  noted that these thought through as part of qualifications work.

MC thanked GL for reference to wider children and families work in relation to the education vision and needing to be coherent with visions for children and young people. Highlighted it was important not to conflate with the vision for improving outcomes for children beyond education, and viewed the need for it to be complimentary but distinct.

Programme dashboard

JR summarised dashboard, key activities and actions presented on it – noting that current resource and budget risks gave the programme overall an amber risk rating.

SK pleased to see the dashboard being used as a tool, and pointed out that the work of the Board should be driven by the highest risks.

LH asked how cultural change might be signalled in relation to the various pieces of work.

  • CH responded that it will be important to build a positive vision of the future in terms of the culture and values of the new organisation, e.g. early adopters/champions, and balancing top down and bottom up drivers.
  • EL noted the importance of identifying key influencers early on and tipping the balance; behind the culture is the behaviours.
  • KM reflected on Naomi Stanford’s (Expert Panel Member) drivers of culture, relationships, attitudes, behaviours and values, and the culture that is set by politics and SG, for example, policy coherence.

Risk heat map

JR provided an overview of the risk heat map and highlighted the four highest risks, acknowledging the Board’s request to reframe risks after the statement/announcement and therefore how risk changes as we move into the next phase. Noted that the programme is closing the risk related to information and evidence.

LMc provided reflections on why the risk score in relation to Education Scotland had been increased given the context of the announcement.  

CH noted the relationship between this risk and business continuity.

Action - JR and LMc to have a follow up discussion on the Programme's risk strategy with SK
Owners - JR and LMc.
Deadline - by 26 April 22

Any other business

CH informed the Board of ongoing considerations in relation to the programme structure and role of the Programme Board as currently constituted, including to acknowledge the changing shape of the programme and to ensure appropriate representation of senior Education Scotland and SQA staff at the right levels.  CH noted that the Board would return to this in discussion in the near future.

CH thanked the Board for their contributions and ended the meeting – next meeting will be 26 April 2022.

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