Education Reform Qualifications Body Delivery Board minutes: February 2023

Minutes from meeting of the group held on 16 February 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Mike Baxter (Chair) (MB)
  • Liz McGrath (LMcG)
  • John Booth (JBo)
  • George Brown (GB)
  • Liz Cunningham (LC)
  • Martin Campbell (MC)
  • Ken Thomson (KT)
  • Stuart McKenna (SMcK)
  • Andy Harvey (AH)
  • Julie MacDonald (JM)
  • Lyndsay McRoberts (LMcR)
  • Steve Borley (SB)
  • Fiona Robertson (FR)
  • Erin McCabe (EMcC)
  • Isabel Nisbet (IN)
  • Kieran Watson (KW)
  • Dawnne Mahmood (DM)


  • Fiona Robertson (FR)
  • Sharon McGuigan (SMcG)


  • Michelle Sharpe (MS)
  • Nicola Hutchinson (NH)
  • Sarah Widdall (SW)
  • Raymond Holloway (RH)
  • Shannon Quinn (SQ)

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Minute of previous meeting

New Qualifications Body (NQB) Delivery Board discussed the comments against the previous set of minutes taken on 19 January 2023. There were no comments on minutes.


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

  • draft a letter replying to the SRO’s Response to Delivery Board Letter/Cab Sec Letter, acknowledging the points noted by the Delivery Board and the proposal for moving forward. - Action QDB-46 – Owner: Mike Baxter
  • to confirm if the actions from the National Discussion will be incorporated into the Hayward Review. - Action QDB-47 – Owner: Liz McGrath
  • add in text to the highlight report to reflect the 6.1 TOM engagement. - Action QDB-48 -Owner: Liz McGrath

The actions and updates from the previous Board on 19 January 2023 can be found in the board pack, titled “2. 20230119 - NQB (New Qualifications Body) DB2023 - Actions from the NQB Delivery Board V1.0”, circulated 16/01/2023. 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 16/02/2023: Updated version of PID but work continues with Scot Gov.
  • an impact assessment of the delay in funding regarding TOM (Target Operating Model) workstream which will be presented at the next NQB (New Qualifications Body) Delivery Board.  - QBD-11. Update 16/02/2023: Relates to the funding bid made in January. We have been asked by the SRO for further information on how the Thematic projects will impact. It was noted that the Thematic projects are in very early stages, and we will need to continue to review them and what is being asked of us in relation to them, recognising that we do not have clarity of scope or degree of involvement at this point.
  • 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. - QBD-30. Update 16/02/2023: Good discussion between HR and TUs to take to SRO this afternoon (16/02/2023).
  • CG to check on timeframe regarding the horizontal commissions in conjunction with updates provided for Action QBD-07. - QBD-31. Update 16/02/2023: Thematic projects. Digital review was referenced in the response letter to the Delivery Board. Thematic projects are currently being reviewed.
  • 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 Accreditation and Regulation.  - QBD-35. Update 16/02/2023: Have fed back to Scot Gov. This is also covered in a future action (QDB-40). Propose to close this action and leave future action open.
  • response sought from Scot Gov on resource bid – decision still awaited at time of writing. Impact on programme to be assessed if decision delayed further. See also QBD-11. - QBD-37.Update 16/02/2023: Bid in 9/1, response 6/2 with a request for further information which SQA will provide to Scot Gov. Going forward we will need to understand the impact of any delays on the approval of resources. LMcG will provide further information to Scot Gov as requested for the resource bid.
  • provide an overview on the Horizontal Commissions (now known as Thematic projects). - QBD-38. Update 16/02/2023: Paper is included in the pack to be reviewed. Closed.
  • MB to circulate the letter he submitted to the Cab Sec and upload to the Teams folder. - QBD-39. Update 16/02/2023: Response letter is in the pack for review in this session. Propose to close.
  • KW to update the NQB Delivery Board members when the Scot Gov website is updated with recent minutes and papers. - QBD-40. Update 16/02/2023: Details will be provided and confirmed at next NQB Delivery Board 16 March 2023.
  • PMO/LMcG to set up a central library resource for shared documentation. - QBD-41. Update 16/02/2023: New site is in the process of being set up. Hopeful to have this next week. Will share information on how to access it as soon as possible. Propose to close.
  • confirm process and initiate discussion on scope and function of Accreditation and Regulation. - QBD-42. Update 16/02/2023: Item on agenda for discussion. Propose to close.
  • PMO to circulate NQB Delivery Board Highlight Report (HLR) to board members after the meeting. - QBD-43. Update 16/02/2023: Close Action. 
  • risk owner GB/PMO to amend QBRRA_004 and remove the word ‘location’. - QBD-44. Update 16/02/2023: Close Action.
  • SW/RH to prepare a draft plan for the next NQB Delivery Board 16/02 for the board members to review. - QBD-45. Update 16/02/2023: Item on agenda for discussion. Propose to close.

SRO response to Delivery Board letter/Cab Sec letter

The Delivery Board were asked for comment on the response received from Scot Gov. Consensus of the group was that the language used in the letter was complex and related mostly to programme governance but did not necessarily answer all points raised satisfactorily.

Delivery Board discussed the dependency profile referred to in the letter and it was explained that the first programme dependencies workshop was held on 31/01/2023. There will be a set of actions and plan to manage the reform dependencies noted as part of risk management. With regards to the Hayward review, it was noted that receipt of the interim Hayward Review report at the end of February will allow NQB to make informed assumptions.

Delivery Board members asked about the policy paper in relation to accreditation, there was expectation that this would be shared soon. SQA and Scot Gov colleagues met recently to discuss the scope and governance of Accreditation and Regulation. Scot Gov have advised they wish to meet with the Accreditation and Regulation team to further discuss this, no date has been set as yet.

Our Trade Union (TU) representative noted that the letter from NQB Delivery Board to Scot Gov made a clear point on the need for realistic delivery times but that the response letter did not provide further clarity.

Thematic project overview

It was explained that the horizontal commissions were now known as thematic projects and an extract from the ER Playbook that set out the expectations at July 2022 was shared, and the Delivery Board was advised this was now being updated.

Some work has moved forward in Digital, Data and Branding, and HR Transition is just now mobilising. The next steps are to review and make sense of the Thematic projects scope and content and to ensure that we have appropriate resource. It was also confirmed the reason Accreditation and Regulation was showing as separate in the thematic projects, was because it was an earlier section of the playbook, before it was confirmed where Accreditation and Regulation would be located.

Members commented on how the non-departmental public body (NDPB) status of the NQB would mean a different approach to transition would be needed to the other bodies and specialist knowledge and capacity required.

Delivery Board members also noted that the thematic projects have an impact on the development of the operating model for the NQB and so the interface with the NQB commission will be important. Clarity of who is responsible for what will be crucial along with realistic timelines and an integrated plan.

New Qualifications Body (NQB) programme summary update

Accreditation and Regulation has been added in as a section on the dashboard so that the different timelines and actions can be seen across the two sections. There will be a single roadmap going forward. Red and amber status reflects where we are with planning, risk and dependencies.  It was also highlighted that the end dates are presentational, and that June is not a defined date at this stage.

Workstream updates                                                                        

Target operating model (TOM) update

The main focus has been to detail the activities and the approach needed to create the target operating model (TOM) and set out realistic timescales and share with colleagues/TU in coming weeks. A workshop was held with the senior leadership team to review design principles and the work continues on the 'As Is' picture. This includes work on the customer journey maps to identify where there are pain points. All of which will help us to, create a priorities list and to identify what to include in options papers.

Colleague engagement update

The series of Staff Information Programmes (SIPs) concluded. Approximately 500 people signed up both virtually and in person. The content was also recorded and to date has had approximately 170 views. One of the points in the SIP is to socialise draft Mission and Purpose. Following a discussion last week with the TUs, it has been agreed that they will be finalised within the vision work in the summer. It was confirmed that this should be after certification and following agreement on the TOM. This is to enable colleague engagement.

The TOM plan will help to structure the comms and engagement plan.

A new intranet page is being launched, where staff will be able to access information on reform.

External communications and engagement update

Currently no significant updates as waiting for more information to come from the TOM 6.2 plan, to be able to communicate meaningfully.

The Scot Gov hub is still in production and awaiting content to populate it. It was confirmed this will be a Scot Gov website and will look like a Scot Gov website.

Expecting information on the draft legislation.

Brand is part of thematic work, in the meantime SQA are fleshing out the brand plan in preparation for being able to engage on it. This also includes having a distinct brand for Accreditation and Regulation.

The importance of listening as well as telling, when communicating was raised. As was the importance of listening to those in the Accreditation and Regulation space. This was agreed, particularly in relation to legislation.

The TUs highlighted that there is requirement to know the scope of Accreditation and Regulation before we can develop or ratify legislation.

Legislation update

KW, the Delivery Board Scot Gov representative, advised that considerable progress has been made in process, documentation such as equality impacts assessments, strategy, general framework and advice to the Cabinet Secretary. Once her views have been gathered there will be engagement, including with SQA, and other stakeholders.

Delivery Board noted the update and that the scope of the Accreditation and Regulation function will impact on the drafting of legislation and KW advised there will be a parallel body of work on scope due to time available to progress.

There was further discussion on data available on qualification types and sectors that may help with scope, and how the engagement with Scot Gov colleagues had been a positive one which meant the existing arrangements and roles of staff, TU, committees, and board members had been considered and recognised.

Accreditation and regulation update

GB, the SQA Accreditation representative, advised that although an intense process, good progress has been made in January and February. It has been positive to have Accreditation and Regulation staff engaged, with all having attended at least one session. Work continues around personas but this should be finalised next week allowing work on the Blueprint to continue. It has been helpful to do this as a team. It is a busy time; therefore, it would be good to pause on further work until April.

It was acknowledged that the risk and issue of workload have been noted, which will be further considered. The SQA Accreditation and Regulation team were thanked for their diligence.

New qualifications body programme risks, dependencies and issues update

There is a draft dependence profile which includes the dependencies that the NQB, New Agency and New Inspectorate have raised. The Delivery Board were advised that this is in the early stages therefore planned actions are light. It is felt having the dependency profile will help us to get some traction and escalation should we need it, particularly if dates pass which cause us concern.

Delivery Board members discussed National Discussion reporting and that there was a belief that there will be short, medium, and long-term actions and a vision.

Highlight report for education reform programme strategic board

Work continues on TOM planning for the Awarding Body and the first steps of the Accreditation and Regulation ‘As Is’ plan. We are in a very intense planning period for the Awarding Body and making good progress on Accreditation and Regulation. We will make sure that the dates for Accreditation and Regulation are achievable alongside dates for Awarding Body.

In this next planning period, we need to engage with the SRO on the plan and there is still work to be done at a programme level on costed options. Overall status has remained the same – Red and Amber with risks and dependencies broadly unchanged as covered at various points throughout this session.

It was recognised that there needs to be engagement on the 6.1 TOM work that was presented to the Strategic Board in December 2022.

Any other business                               

If there are any comments or queries, please pass these along to The PMO admin team will advise the appropriate audience.  

 The next NQB Delivery Board is scheduled for 16 March 2023 at 10am.

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