Education Reform Qualifications Body Delivery Board minutes: December 2022

Minutes from meeting of the group on 15 December 2022.

This document is part of a collection

Attendees and apologies


  • Mike Baxter (Chair) (MB)
  • Liz McGrath (LMcG)
  • John Booth (JB)
  • George Brown (GB)
  • Liz Cunningham (LC)
  • Martin Campbell (MC)
  • Sharon McGuigan (SMcG)
  • Chris Graham (CG)
  • Ken Thomson (KT)
  • Stuart McKenna (SMcK)
  • Andy Harvey (AH)
  • Julie MacDonald (JM)
  • Lyndsay McRoberts (LMcR)
  • Steve Borley (SB)


  • Raymond Holloway (RH)
  • Fiona Robertson (FR)
  • Dawnne Mahmoud (DM)
  • Erin McCabe (EMcC)
  • Isabel Nisbet (IN)


  • Michelle Sharpe (MS)
  • Nicola Hutchinson (NH)
  • Sarah Widdall (SW)
  • Louise Wright (LW)
  • Hazel Porteous (HP)
  • Shannon Quinn (SQ)
  • Sharon Coyle (SC)

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

MB thanked members who made the additional time for last week’s extra New Qualifications Body Delivery Board 08 December 2022 to go over the presentation for the Programme Strategic Board on Tuesday 13 December. MB also welcomed Nicola Hutchinson, our new Reform Programme Manager. 

Minute of previous meeting

The previous minutes were reviewed, no comments or amendments were made. 

Previous actions

The actions and updates prior to the Board can be found within the board pack the programme admin support circulated 12 December 2022 titled “2. 20221215 - NQB (New Qualifications Body) DB2022 - actions from the NQB Delivery Board V1.0”. The below are updates suggested at today’s meeting. 

  • CG to amend the PID (Programme Initiation Document) to highlight that Accreditation and Regulation may be considered a part of this Board’s objectives but a decision on where these functions will sit has not yet been made by ministers. Update – 15 December 2022 – a revised commission with the feedback from CG is actively progressing and will be sent out in early 2023. QDB-07
  • LMcG to conduct a do ability assessment for the delay in funding regarding TOM (Target Operating Model) workstream which will be presented at the next QBR (Qualifications Body Reform) Delivery Board. Update – 15 December 2022 – currently the numbers and supporting narrative should be finalised tomorrow ahead of submission. The draft budget bill will be presented in parliament today. CG states the reform was mentioned in the budget agreement and has been considered. QDB-11
  • PMO to add Education Reform - Programme Management - Code of Conduct for External Board Members V 0.1 as an agenda item for QDB Board 17 November. Update – 15 December 2022 –LMcG has passed the amendments from EMcC and SMcG along to appropriate audiences, the code of conduct should be reviewed in the new year once re-evaluated. QDB-30

Action: QDB-31 - CG to check on timeframe regarding the horizontal commission in conjunction with updates provided for action QDB-07. Owner - CG

New Qualifications Body Programme summary update

The dashboard shows milestones and next steps over time in conjunction with the programme plan. There are some previously completed tasks now reactivated due to the addition of Accreditation and Regulation activity, for example, applying the process used awarding functions to the Accreditation and Regulation functions. Planning will continue and be reflected in the dashboard once complete.

Action: QDB-32 – PMO and LMcG will alter the format of the programme summary update to reflect the additional activity associated with Accreditation and Regulation. Owner – PMO and LMcG

A short discussion on the review landscape, the addition of Accreditation and Regulation to our plan, Hayward and Withers dependencies and horizontal commissions then took place. Members agreed these high-level factors suggested the overall programme sits at red, to reflect the current risks and issues discussed.

Workstream Updates

Target Operating Model (TOM) workstream by SW

The focus up till now has been on deliverables 2 to 6.1 (mission, purpose, organisational model, opportunities for improvement). We can now focus on the NQB detailed future state using the as-is blueprint and service evidence we have created to help confirm future services. There is reliance on Independent Review Group (IRG)/Withers for completion of the TOM. There is also work ongoing to confirm the mission and purpose and engagement with TUs (Trade Unions), staff and stakeholders. Work on new vision for new body and new culture will commence next year.

Colleague engagement by DM

A range of different engagement activity has taken or is ongoing including -
A new Reform area on the SQA intranet including introducing the reform team to colleagues
Reform team continue to attend departmental meetings and online meetings to discuss progress and next steps; these will continue in 2023. 

  • staff Information Presentations (SIPs) are planned for 2023 with both F2F and virtual sessions provided
  • there are also some directorate days already scheduled for 2023 to provide colleagues an overview on reform 
  • reform representative will also attend regular sessions with EMT (Executive Management Team) and internal sessions between directors and their teams

Immediate next steps include creating a formal engagement plan and inclusion of TU colleagues in planning the Accreditation and Regulation approach and D6.2 and 7 planning.

The group then went on to discuss the two updates given, and progress made. SMcK asked about the impact delay in the reviews will have on preparing NQB for the new products and services and if there was an assumption on the level of change. LMcG advised IRG work remains ongoing up until February 2023 when an interim report is due before the final report is produced in May 2023. 

The group discussed the work of IRG as several members are in CCGs (Collaborative Community Group) or subgroups and concluded even the delayed timeline is tight and also an unhelpful dependency for NQB especially if, as DB members indicated, they were expecting radical change from IRG. It was also noted that schools are not feeding into the Withers review yet and this may be an issue.
The group discussed risk and assumptions we could safely make especially around IRG outcomes and agreed assumptions would be limited and that the February interim report would be an important source of information. Our HLR (Highlight Report) should highlight that we are on track where possible and the delay in movement is due to dependencies including Accreditation and Regulation decision, IRG, Withers and the National Discussion outputs. The current pace/timeline also impacts on meaningful engagement and consultation. SMcG said that in previous months, due to need to continue at pace and meet deadlines, proper consultation has not taken place internally or externally and this should be recognised. Members agreed the time available for D6.1 did not reflect the amount of work needed and that consultation will be built into the next phase of the Reform timeline to ensure we have good outcomes. The next phase is being planned with appropriate end dates and discussions with SRO (Senior Responsible Owner)/ER PMO (Education Reform Programme Management Office) will follow.

All agreed we need to understand how dependencies will impact decision making as SQA can progress with ‘no regret’ activity but need to avoid wasted effort or causing confusion in the sector. The next phase of planning for NQB TOM, our future state and roadmap needs to be realistic and well informed. However, CG advised the expectation is to continue at pace and commit to the timeline already given whilst being flexible/adapt to change. 

Action: QDB-33 - MB will contact ScotGov to discuss their expectations from SQA in relation to the delay of the Hayward Review and the interdependencies, risks and issues that accompany this. Owner: MB 

External comms and engagement by JB

JB gave an update on progress made in agreeing joint engagement and communication approaches across the Programme. He noted the that whilst the Accreditation and Regulation decision was good to have there was external commentary specifically playing into perception that nothing is changing. 
There is an agreement in principle for a neutral non-branded online platform for shared comms that will be fronted by SG (Scottish Government) but shared content. 

Action: QDB-34 - JB will share a link with the NQB Delivery Board members to the SQA website dedicated to the replacement of SQA communications. Owner - JB

SMCG would like further discussion on how the feedback on the decision regarding the location of Accreditation and Regulation was made. There may be lessons to be learned for future use that avoid the adverse impacts experienced by Accreditation and Regulation team during the wait to confirm location.

Action: QDB-35 - MB to feed back to ScotGov 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 Accreditation and Regulation. Owner - MB

Legislation by CG

The team continue to engage with solicitors and are drafting within the parliamentary office and progressing well. SB acts as a SQA representative at the ScotGov Policy and Legislation Board meetings. SB has advised that the last two Policy and Legislation Delivery Boards have been cancelled. 

Accreditation and Regulation by GB

Preliminary work on Accreditation and Regulation has commenced around scope and function. There will be a separate workstream created for Accreditation and Regulation activity including a separate timeline but following the same processes and Playbook as the AB work. Design principles and shared deliverables will apply. There is a planning session later today (16 December), outputs to be shared at next NQB Delivery Board (19 January). GB gave a broad overview of how the scope may change or extend in line with other regulators’ arrangements and regarding publicly funded qualifications delivered in Scotland.

There was some reflection on how the independence of the Accreditation and Regulation function on the NQB could be appropriately achieved and assured. GB and SMcG noted there was a mixed reception from staff on the Accreditation and Regulation location decision and there were concerns on the lack of engagement with staff. 

Spotlight on

Update from Programme Strategic Board 13 December 2022

First, MB and LMcG would like to thank RH and SW for their work on the presentation and their delivery at the PSB (Programme Strategic Board) 13 December. In line with the run through at DB on 08 December, the team were upfront regarding the high-level nature of the presentation, the dependencies, and caveat that there had been no opportunity for consultation with TU’s, staff, or stakeholders. As there were three presentations, PSB were reminded that NQB had an agreed split for D6. The SQA presentation did not generate many questions, though there was feedback regarding the digital design principle. After the presentations were complete, Ken Muir gave some feedback that he was concerned about the Design principles (they are long standing and previously discussed at PSB) and there was a misunderstanding regarding SQA’s split deliverable 6 and progress expected. There was also broader comment about the lack of focus on ‘educational’ aspects of reform at this PSB. The programme SRO will discuss PSB with the Cab Sec and provide feedback to DB in January.

QBR Programme risks and issues update

There have been two dependencies raised on the new ER PMO dependency log and there is an Education Reform Programme Level Risk Group scheduled week commencing 19 December 2022, that will be used to underpin work on dependencies. Going forward, Accreditation and Regulation will be reflected within risks, issues and dependencies as required. Risk QBR_001_R and QBRRA_004_R have been updated recently, these can be closed, and new risks will be created to show the impacts 6.1 have on these added in. SQA will take the opportunity once planning is more progressed to review the current RAID (Risks, Assumptions, Issues, Dependencies) log and how they align with the timescale.

Decision: QBR_001_R was agreed to be closed on the basis a new risk be opened to reflect the impact of deliverable 6.1 will have on the TOM definition milestone.

Decision: QBRRA_004_R was agreed to be closed on the basis a new risk be opened to reflect the impact of deliverable 6.1 will have on the Accreditation and Regulation SPB.

Highlight Report for Education Reform Programme Board

We have progressed well since the last NQB Delivery Board; deliverable 6.1 has been completed, the Accreditation and Regulation location and subsequent work have begun, there are challenges regarding the delay to the Hayward review and timing of other reviews that remains ongoing, and the forward focus remains unchanged. Status is red overall.

Action: QDB-36 - LMcG will suggest a change of format to the ER Highlight Report to include Dependencies to ScotGov representative Chris Dunne. Owner: LMcG

Any other business (AOB)     

There was no AOB beyond wishing Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all. 

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