Education Reform Qualifications Body Delivery Board minutes: January 2023

Minutes from meeting of the group on 19 January 2023.

This document is part of a collection

Attendees and apologies


  • Mike Baxter (Chair) (MB)
  • Liz McGrath (LMcG)
  • John Booth (JBo)
  • 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)
  • Fiona Robertson (FR)
  • Erin McCabe (EMcC)
  • Isabel Nisbet (IN)
  • Kieran Watson (KW)


  • Dawnne Mahmoud (DM) 


  • Michelle Sharpe (MS)
  • Nicola Hutchinson (NH)
  • Sarah Widdall (SW)
  • Raymond Holloway (RH)
  • Shannon Quinn (SQ)
  • Stuart McLaren (SMcL)
  • Kat Hannah (KH)
  • Wendy George (WG)
  • Sharon Coyle (SC)

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Attendees were welcomed to the first Delivery Board of 2023 and thanked for their continued support. Kieran Watson (KW) was welcomed and confirmed as the key contact at Scottish Government for the Delivery Board.

Minute of previous meeting

The previous minutes, taken on Thursday 15 December 2022 were checked for factual accuracy and it was confirmed there were no comments or action.

Previous actions

The actions and updates from the previous Board on 15 December 2022 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 January 2023. The below are 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. Update – 19 January 2023 - Scottish Government (SG) advised it is tracking progress and will provide an update as soon as possible. Delivery Board advised the PID will be circulated to colleagues as soon it is available and that there will not be a requirement to wait until the next Delivery Board meeting. QDB-07
  • an impact assessment of the delay in funding regarding TOM (Target Operating Model) workstream which will be presented at the next QBR (Qualifications Body Reform) Delivery Board. Update – 19 January 2023 - finance bid submitted on 6 January 2023 with a request for additional resource. There was a brief discussion with Scottish Government, on 13 January 2023. Delivery Board will update SQA colleagues on resource request as soon as an update is available. QDB-11
  • PMO (Programme Management Office) 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 – 19 January 2023 – this is ongoing. QDB-30
  •  CG to check on timeframe regarding the horizontal commissions in conjunction with updates provided for action QDB-07. Update – 19 January 2023 - Scottish Government advised they are being progressed and that the letter from Delivery Board has been received. QDB-31

A request was made for a refresher on what the horizontal commissions are. It was advised horizontal commissions are read-across, mutual interest issues e.g., Digital and Branding and that the mechanics of them have still to be worked through in detail. 

Action QBD-38: provide an overview on the horizontal commissions (now referred to as thematic reviews).

  • alter the format of the programme summary update to reflect the additional activity associated with Accreditation and Regulation. Update – 19 January 2023 agreed to close. QDB-32
  • a link to be shared with the NQB Delivery Board members to the ScotGov website dedicated to the ‘Replacement of SQA’ communications. An update will be provided at next NQB. Update – 19 January 2023 circulated to DB members. QDB-33

Action QBD-39: circulate the letter submitted to the SRO (Senior Responsible Officer) and upload to the teams folder.
Owner: Mike Baxter

Action QBD-40: update Board Members when Scot Gov website is updated with recent minute and papers.
Owner: Kieran Watson

  • 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. Update – 19 January 2023 agreed to close. QDB-34
  • feedback 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. Update – 19/01/2023 this was raised with ScotGov and response was that actions were in hand to address. Confirmation that this has been resolved required from ScotGov. QDB-35
  • suggested a change of format to the Education Reform (ER) Highlight Report to include dependencies to ScotGov representative. Update – 19 January 2023 agreed to close. QDB-36

New Qualifications Body Programme summary update

DB members were advised that planning for NQB, both Awarding Body and Accreditation and Regulation continues, noting it is positive to have confirmation of the location of Accreditation and Regulation however this now adds another dependency as the scope of Accreditation and Regulation must be considered and how it plays into NQB governance, Accreditation and Regulation structure and the Awarding Body functions. Consideration must be given to the plans going forward. 

Delivery Board was advised that the programme now has an approach to dependency management with a meeting set for 25 January 2023. Details will be added to future Delivery Board highlight reports as soon as the approach is confirmed. The dependencies document will be shared as soon as possible. 

Delivery Board was advised that there was an introduction session to options appraisals with finance colleagues from Scottish Government on 16 January 2023.

SQA colleagues met Geoff Huggins, Digital Director, Scottish Government – potential partnership working to replace legacy systems. Further meeting 30 January 2023 to move that horizontal commission forward.

Workstream updates                                

Target Operating Model (TOM) workstream 

Work is underway to deliver the remainder of deliverable 6.2/7. A plan is being created which includes the key activities that need to be completed, resources and timescales which will be shared with Education Reform team and the Delivery Board. The plan in draft, will be shared with Trade Unions (TUs) to understand where consultation will be required. 

It was requested that central resource of documents be created that the Board can refer to. 

Action: QBR-41 -create a central library resource of shared documents for the Board.
Owner: Liz McGrath

Colleague engagement 

Seven Staff Information Sessions (SIPs (Staff Information Presentations)) have been held, with 400 colleagues signing up to attend. Content includes Education Reform, where we are in terms of our reform, information on the design principles and the draft mission and purpose.  The plan for deliverables 6.2/7 will help us to create a more structured colleague engagement approach.

The headline responses from colleagues so far were around longer-term strategy and how that will impact on the NQB and, there is a gap in understanding of the purpose of the new organisation. It was acknowledged that although colleagues appreciate the communication so far, there is still a feeling of worry and anxiety on what the future looks like. It was highlighted that there is a need to share as much information as possible at the appropriate times.

It was noted that the outcomes of Reviews (Hayward, Withers etc.) will have an impact on Reform work which will have an impact on the communication with staff. Delivery Board acknowledged the importance of the interdependency work.

External comms and engagement

It was highlighted that the complexities and interdependencies are impacting external engagement. Still awaiting a steer from Scottish Government on when work can begin. In the meantime, thinking continues around what we engage on to make Education Reform real for audiences. 

Currently in the middle of a day three of sprint, working on the shared comms and engagement platform for SQA, Education Scotland and Scottish Government to use for Reform purposes.

Also working on personas for both the Awarding Body and Accreditation and Regulation. Not yet at a point of engaging.

Policy and Legislation 

The Delivery Board highlighted their concerns around the Policy and Legislation Delivery Board cancelling their last three meetings, despite work continuing and outstanding issues relating to policy to consider. It was noted that there will be an impact assessment required, which will draw on SQA resource, which will need careful planning. It was stressed that this will not be a simple mapping exercise as many other interdependencies will have to be considered.

A further concern was raised around the lack of information from Scottish Government on the scope and function of Accreditation and Regulation particularly when considering the timing of legislation.

Noted that there is a requirement to have further discussion on powers and legislation due to the impact on the work of this board.

Accreditation and Regulation 

Work on scoping Accreditation and Regulation continues. 

Action: QDB-42 - confirm process and initiate discussion on scope and function of Accreditation and Regulation.
Owner: Kieran Watson

Workshops have been set up, over the coming fortnight, for the creation of personas and blue printing work.

Noted that January to March is the busiest time of the year for Accreditation. All Accreditation and Regulation Staff have been encouraged to get involved in the workshops where possible. It should be noted that there is currently no additional resource allocated to the Reform work with Accreditation and Regulation expertise.

Consideration must be given to workload when planning the Reform work to ensure that staff can fully engage whilst continuing with business-as-usual work.

Planning work is reasonably well developed but cannot be finalised until risks, issues and dependencies have been established for the strand. Consideration to be given to whether the RAG (Red, Amber, Green) status should be red, once this task is complete.

Spotlight on

Approach to brand development - final v1.3 20230105 

Points to note/consider:

Accreditation and Regulation has its own identity and brand, therefore there will be a requirement to understand their brand needs. The same process that was agreed by the Delivery Board, for the Awarding Body, will be followed.

Need to consider brand across education reform not just the NQB.

Consider the implications for SQA legacy, need to avoid mixed messages.

Cost and time will be significant as all branding will need to be transferred over.

Need to be aligned to horizontal commissions to ensure the success of brands.

This is an important piece of work in a complex landscape.

Some of the diagnostic work has begun.

Started work by engaging with Legal Agency.

Brand work will need to be aligned to the engagement and TOM work to join all parts of the programme together.

The Delivery Board comment that the SQA brand and SVQ (Scottish Vocational Qualification) brand are very powerful and that it was good to see the direction of travel.

Action: NDB-43 - PMO to circulate NQB BD HLR (Highlight Report) to board members after the meeting.
Owner: PMO

QBR Programme risks and issues update 

Decision: QBRRA_003 - propose to close

Action: QDB-44 - QBRRA_004 - amend and remove the word ”location”.
Owner: PMO/risk owner

Revise any new risks associated with progressing the plan for Deliverables 6.2 and 7.

RAG - Amber

Highlight report for Education Reform Programme Board

Action: QDB-45 - SW and RH to prepare a draft Target Operating Model plan for the next NQB DB 16/02/2023 for the board members to review.
Owner: Sarah Widdall and Raymond Holloway

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 Thursday 16 February at 10:00am.  

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