Education Reform Qualifications Body Delivery Board minutes: April 2023

Minutes of the meeting held on 19 April 2023.

This document is part of a collection

Attendees and apologies

  • Mike Baxter (Chair) (MB)
  • Liz McGrath (LMcG)
  • John Booth (JB)
  • George Brown (GB)
  • Martin Campbell (MC)
  • Sharon McGuigan (SMcG)
  • Ken Thomson (KT)
  • Stuart McKenna (SMcK)
  • Andy Harvey (AH)
  • Julie MacDonald (til 3:30) (JM)
  • Lyndsay McRoberts (LMcR)
  • Steve Borley (SB)
  • Erin McCabe (EMcC)
  • Kieran Watson (KW)
  • Fiona Robertson (FR)
  • Liz Cunningham (LC)
  • Dawnne Mahmoud (DM)
  • Erin McCabe (EMcC)


  • Isabel Nisbet (IN)
  • Kieran Watson (KW)


  • Michelle Sharpe (MS)
  • Nicola Hutchinson (NH) (Admin)
  • Sarah Widdall (SW)
  • Raymond Holloway (RH)
  • Sharon Coyle (SC)
  • Lisa Bird (LB)

Items and actions

Please note JM was present for the first 30 minutes of this meeting.

Minute of previous meeting

All previous minutes agreed.


Please find a summary of today’s actions and decisions:

  • LB/KW to provide further update at next Delivery Board meeting on engagement that has taken place on legislative intent. - Action QBD-49 - Owner: Lisa Bird/Kieran Watson

The actions and updates from the previous Board on 16 March 2023 can be found in the board pack, titled “2. 20230419 - NQB (New Qualifications Body) DB2023 - Actions from the NQB Delivery Board V1.0”. Find below updates from today’s meeting.

  • amend the PID (Programme Initiation Document) to highlight that Accreditation and Regulation may now be considered a part of this Board’s objectives but a decision on future scope and function has not yet been made by ministers. - QDB-07. Update – 19/04/2023 PID update has now been received.
  • an impact assessment of the delay in funding regarding TOM (Target Operating Model) workstream which will be presented at the next New Qualifications Body (NQB) Delivery Board. - QDB-11. Update – 19/04/2023 – Propose to close.
  • PMO to add Education Reform - Programme Management - Code of Conduct for External Board Members V 0.1 as an agenda item for QBD Board 17/11. - QDB-30. Update – 19/04/2023 – Propose to close.
  • feedback to Scot Gov that the information pertaining to the reform is not up to date on their website, which is a risk and feedback the issue regarding the lack of communication regarding the decision on the location of A&R. - QBD-35. Update – 19/04/2023 – Propose to close.
  • MB to update SQA Colleagues on the Scot Gov resource bid. - QBD-37. Update – 19/04/2023 – Awaiting ministerial sign off on funding. We are able to prepare for recruitment.
  • KW to update the NQB Delivery Board members when the Scot Gov website is updated with recent minutes and papers. - QBD-40. Update – 19/04/2023 – Propose to close.
  • MB to draft a letter replying to the SRO’s Response to DB Letter/Cab Sec Letter, acknowledging the points noted by the Delivery Board and the proposal for moving forward. - QDB-46.Update – 19/04/2023 MB advised that the draft letter should be with colleagues by the end of the week.

New qualifications body (NQB) programme summary update

The programme has moved to amber. There are plans in place, we are moving with caution and we are progressing. Tasks that are within our gift, are underway and are making progress. Where we are able, we are progressing with the Thematic Projects (TP) and also with service improvement work.

It was asked if there is a scientific approach to moving the programme from red to amber. The Delivery Board was advised that the balance of items that are within our gift to change/ amend /implement versus those things out with project control e.g., interdependencies or ministerial sign off will influence status.

Workstream updates                                                                 

Target operating model (TOM) workstream

The focus is on preparing the interim TOM report for Scot Gov. This should be a short paper articulating the functions and services of the new body, where the team think Hayward etc will impact, and the operational challenges SQA are currently dealing with. It will contain high level analysis of where the team think the opportunities for transformative change are, including areas where the external environment needs to interact with the New Qualifications Body in a different way to achieve transformation. This will be collated based on the information gathered from the Customer Journey Maps, information and intelligence from our users and stakeholders. The interim report will be completed by the end of April and the actual model will be completed by end of June.

The paper will provide visibility of emergent thinking and enable a better understanding of the challenges SQA are dealing with as an organisation, as well as allowing the team to gauge what level of change is expected versus what they think is realistic and feed into programme planning.

The Delivery Board asked, how much information the interim Hayward report gives in terms of thinking going forward and the anticipated impact. It was noted that the report is light on detail so far, with more due in May. However, the Hayward review should have a material implication for what the NQB should look like. SQA will need to implement an iterative approach to this. The Withers review is also a material piece of work which will impact the NQB.

Unite noted they have not been consulted on the draft and LMcG advised that there was not yet a draft that was complete enough to sensibly share but that a draft would be shared for comment as soon as possible during w.c. 24 April.

Colleague engagement

The team are running four events - Connecting with Reform, two in Lowden and two in Glasgow. They will be interactive sessions made up of small groups who will engage groups with the Reform team, smaller groups so that people can get involve in discussions. They will focus on:

  • TOM and plan – what a TOM is and the process we are working through.
  • culture and engagement – what is our current culture, what do we want to keep and what do we want to change and how we will engage.
  • design principles – we are using Next Gen HN to showcase the Design Principles.
  • CJMs and pathfinders – focus on service improvement projects and visible outputs for day 1 of the NQB.
  • village – small exhibitions where people can interact on things like external engagement, learner at centre, cross cutting thematic projects.

The Delivery Board asked if there are any new or emerging concerns coming from staff now. It was noted that there are not any currently. The Connect with Reform sessions will have a graffiti wall which will be used to encourage people to share their thoughts and feelings.

Unite noted that they recently had a meeting with members whom they asked if they felt engaged around reform and if they had any issues or concerns. The feeling from that meeting was that they don’t particularly feel engaged, and that reform is being done to them. Also, that the language and jargon are difficult to work with and there is a feeling that when talking about reform in general not much content has been shared. There is hope that they will become more engaged with practical opportunities.

The Delivery Board noted that it is important to talk about substance and not just process but work needs to be done to get to that.

External communications and engagement

SQA continues to work with Scot Gov on the website that will support whole programme, user panels and round tables, to ensure the correct representation and content. Work with the Advisory Council will take place on 20/4/2023 and a discussion with Scot Gov on branding and culture thematic project are due to take place.

It was asked if Accreditation and Regulation will have a different brand to the NQB. The Delivery Board were advised that this is something that needs to be worked through. It is important to have a distinct brand for Accreditation and Regulation but for it to still be part of NQB. This must be given consideration and discussion with the Cab Sec will be required.

It was also noted that consideration must be given to SQA’s current branding outside of Scotland and internationally and the impacts of changes to brand.

Policy and legislation

Scot Gov provided an update that discussions on resolving the outstanding scope for Accreditation and Regulation were underway and that there is intent to have further discussion with SQA colleagues next week (W/C 24/4/2023). The Delivery Board were advised that once more information was available it would be shared as consultation and discussion will be critical.

Scot Gov also advised that they are working through the feedback received in relation to the Legislative intent for the Bill and that there is documentation that accompanies the Bill, including Policy and Memorandum, which will require comment from SQA, once made available.

It was also noted that the documents sent to SQA/Delivery Board for comment on legislative intent hold more information than would normally be shared, therefore it important that those documents are not shared more widely.

Members went on to discuss the content and process so far and asked if there has been any consultation with employers and training providers as the legislation needs college, employer, and training provider voice as schools are not the sole focus. LB advised there had been consultation, and she would be happy to check provide more information thereafter.

AH confirmed EIS would provide feedback on how the Bill could address the breakdown in trust between teachers and the system, and professional representation. Also, noting that in terms of A and R there is a danger that it appears that nothing has changed.

SMcG noted that Unite provided feedback on the legislative intent but have yet to have a response or discussion and LB advised of the intent to engage with TUs next week (W/C 24/4/2023) on their feedback.

The Delivery Board agreed on the importance of challenge, wide and appropriate engagement and also understanding the response mechanism from Scot Gov when feedback has been provided.

Accreditation and regulation

Planning and sub-programme boards continue with future state customer journey/service improvement work anticipated to begin in May. GB noted it was good to hear that work is ongoing on scope, and he was looking forward to engaging further on that,

It was noted that the final risk on risk register is out of date and needs to be updated.

Highlight report including risks, dependencies  and  issues update

The current overall status of the New Qualifications Body (NQB) project has moved from red to amber as, whilst risks and dependencies previously highlighted remain in place at this time, we continue to make progress on deliverables, have an agreed plan to end June 2023 and a commitment from the Programme Senior Responsible Officer for the resource bid made in January 2023.

We have received the interim Hayward report and SQA has responded, however, there hasn’t been much change to dependencies overall and the thematic projects continue to be worked through. The first Integrated Programme planning session with stakeholders from Scot Gov, Education Scotland and SQA which was productive. It has been confirmed that there will be 8 thematic projects. There are 3 key TP which will be focussed on Digital, Rles and Responsibilities and Organisational Design and Culture including branding.

SQA continues to make progress on deliverables and outputs. It was noted that due to the changes in personnel in Scot Gov there has been a delay on the   Ministerial approval of the resource bid. At this time there has been no indication that a review of the education reform work will occur.

Any other business                

No further points from the group.

The next NQB Delivery Board is scheduled for Thursday 11 May 10:00am.

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