Education Reform Qualifications Body Delivery Board minutes: March 2023

Minutes from meeting of the group on 16 March 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 (JM)
  • Lyndsay McRoberts (LMcR)
  • Steve Borley (SB)
  • Erin McCabe (EMcC)
  • Isabel Nisbet (IN)
  • Kieran Watson (KW)
  • Fiona Robertson (FR)
  • Liz Cunningham (LC)


  • Dawnne Mahmoud (DM)
  • Erin McCabe (EMcC)
  • Isabel Nisbet (IN)
  • George Brown (GB)


  • Michelle Sharpe (MS)
  • Nicola Hutchinson (NH)
  • Sarah Widdall (SW)
  • Raymond Holloway (RH)
  • Shannon Quinn (SQ)
  • Sharon Coyle (SC)
  • Neil Cardwell (NC)


Items and actions


MB welcomed attendees and noted that there were two key points to be highlighted on the agenda, an overview of the legislative intent for the New Qualifications Body (NQB) and an overview on the work being done for the new name of the NQB.

Minute of previous meeting

The previous minutes, taken on Thursday 16 February 2023 were checked for factual accuracy and it was confirmed there were no comments or action.

Members asked about progress on publication of Delivery Board minutes as this has been on the action list for a while, and it was noted that they will be published on the Scottish Government website as soon as possible during March.


Please note there were no actions or decisions recorded from todays meeting.

The actions and updates from the previous Board on 16 February 2023 can be found in the board pack, titled “2. 20230316 - NQB (New Qualifications Body) DB2023 - Actions from the NQB Delivery Board V1.0”. Updates from today’s meeting will be recorded here also.

  • 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 – 16/03/2023 ongoing discussions to complete the PID including deliverable dates.
  • 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 – 16/03/2023 – SQA and Education Scotland have submitted bids which are being reviewed by SG colleagues, an update is pending. It was noted that the development of the Thematic projects (TP) has increased the complexity and the bid submitted by SQA has been further refined to consider the TP. Propose to close this action as QBD-37 refers.
  • 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 – 16/03/2023 – Trade Union (TU) colleagues helpfully provided suggested amends, and some further discussion is needed to resolve. Work remains ongoing.
  • CG to check on timing of the horizontal commissions in conjunction with updates provided for ACTION QBD-07. - QBD-31. Update – 16/03/2023 – Propose to Close. LMcG advised that from the Directors meeting she could update that five TP have now been stood up with broad scope set out and that there will be a planning session with SQA, ES, Scot Gov and SOPRA on 27 March 2023, to set out how the TP interact with TOM work. DB members discussed the update, noting that they felt the TPs are late to begin and the purpose, scope, priority, resource requirement and impact on SQA/ES remains unclear. More information to follow in subsequent DB meetings.
  • 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 – 16/03/2023 – Work is ongoing.
  • MB to update SQA Colleagues on the Scot Gov resource bid. - QBD-37. Update – 16/03/2023 – SQA and Education Scotland have submitted bids which are being reviewed by SG colleagues, an update is pending. It was noted that the development of the Thematic projects (TP) has increased the complexity and the bid submitted by SQA has been further refined to include more consideration of the TPs.
  • KW to update the NQB Delivery Board members when the Scot Gov website is updated with recent minutes and papers. - QBD-40. Update – 16/03/2023 – They will be published on the newly created Education Reform website as soon as possible during March.
  • 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 – 16/03/2023 – Once drafted the letter will be circulated to DB members for comment.
  • LMcG to confirm if the actions from the National Discussion will be incorporated into the Hayward Review. - QDB-46. Update – 16/03/2023 – Propose to close. The actions and visions that come out of the National Discussion will be incorporated to the ER Programme plans/requirements in due course.
  • LMcG to add in text to the Highlight Report to reflect the 6.1 TOM engagement. - QDB-48. Update – 16/03/2023 – Close

New qualifications body (NQB) programme summary update

Changes from the previous report include that our resource bid has yet to be confirmed and this is now red whereas planning is now amber as we have shared with SG colleagues and TU and now moving towards baselining. On Awarding Body we are now working to the plan, but overall plan remains amber as Accreditation and Regulation plan still waiting for confirmation around change in scope. We are aiming to bring the Awarding Body and Accreditation and Regulation plans together in the roadmap. Not a lot of change from the last report.

Risks and dependencies remain as they were although the Hayward interim report is now available and SQA colleagues are reviewing, and Reform team will then consider potential impacts on NQB TOM. Withers review has yet to report.

A request has also been made for funding to support the design aspect of IRG from April 2023, but the request for IRG delivery funding has been moved into next year. SQA have set out their requirements for the next 6 months, in relation to existing posts and the posts that are new for capability or capacity.

Delivery Board members discussed the resource bid including the number of posts and broad split between staffing, contractors, consultants, and agencies agreeing that understanding the Thematic projects will help us to understand resources. It was also noted that there is little to no capacity outside of the funded posts/requested posts to progress reform activity.

Workstream updates                                                                 

Target operating model (TOM) workstream

SW talked through the plan now in place, highlighting the different elements that we are reviewing, revising, and reporting on for the NQB. They include Location, Business Processes, Suppliers and Partnerships, Digital and Data, Management Systems, Finances, Funding and Revenue, Leadership and Organisation, Communications and Engagement.  

Delivery Board members acknowledged the timeline of end of June for this work, noting the amount of work involved in achieving that.

Colleague engagement

RH advised members that the detailed NQB plan had been discussed with Trade Unions (TU) allowing the Reform team to incorporate their feedback and then work on the Communications and Engagement plan for all staff, with a further meeting being held on Tuesday 21 March with the TUs.

All staff updates had been provided on legislative intent and proposals that have arisen from the interim Hayward Report, and there were high levels of attendance at all of the events.

RH also highlighted there will be a Reform Roadshow, in April where more detailed sharing of ongoing reform work and activity will take place. Delivery Board members were positive about this idea.

The Unite rep went on to say she felt that engagement with staff has been lacking and that staff are detached from the reform process and that either communications are too high level – for example, the legislative intent sessions – or that the language is too difficult to understand. Whilst the c.700 staff who had attended or viewed the staff information sessions in February had provided good feedback, TU colleagues felt this was merely presenting information and not engagement.

Delivery Board members discussed how to improve or decode the information that was being shared and how to tackle the issue raised by TUs. This included content for the new intranet section of the website, sharing the plan and more information on the process – for example how service improvements are brought about through service design and focus on user customer journeys. This will be taken forward in the next few months, with the roadshows at the end of April, after Easter break.

Unite added that they would take a temperature check with their members to understand how they feel about the reform programme and will feedback to the Delivery Board.

External communications and engagement

JB advised that there is ongoing preparation and planning work for external engagement including good progress being made on the reform website that SQA are building on behalf of the wider programme which is scheduled to go live in April. SQA are also providing advice and guidance to Scot Gov on NQB name, and SQA will respond to the Stage 3 Hayward Review consultation and may provide external communication on this.

Policy and legislation

KW gave an overview of the legislative process so far and presented slides covering both Awarding Body and Accreditation and Regulation functions to members to share the detail available so far, noting that more information will be shared with the Delivery Board in due course.

Delivery Board members thanked KW for the update and went on to discuss the content of the presentation. The broad themes covered included the consultation audience and KW confirmed that this included schools, teaching unions and other representative bodies and stakeholders. Members suggested consultation with private training providers or employers would be helpful and KW noted this was planned. The group also suggested that the Learner Charter must cover all learners who will use the NQB’s services.

The group discussed the improvement opportunities the extension of Accreditation and Regulation scope could bring to the system and to Scotland’s learners and concerns were noted that it might be difficult to make the appropriate scope changes in the time that was left in the legislative process and that the opportunity to improve might be missed.

Delivery Board members discussed the level of detail that had been provided and whilst the reasons for that were clear, members, particularly TU reps, fed back that there was not enough detail in the presentation and in very similar previous presentations given by SQA and this was not helpful to staff. For example, no provision noted so far to give comfort that not just the functions, but that staff will also be transferred over to the NQB.

TU reps noted the points about representation on the Board and that they will be providing feedback to Scot Gov colleagues separately.

KW confirmed that work is ongoing on all of the points raised and Delivery Board members made the offer of further advice and guidance should that be helpful.

Accreditation and regulation

As per the highlight report provided.

QBR programme risks, dependencies and issues update

As per the highlight report provided.

Highlight report for education reform programme board

As per the highlight report provided.

Programme board No 10 – papers for comment/noting

There were a number of papers from PB10 included for Delivery Board feedback.

Any other business              

NC provided an update on the new bodies naming process, thanking SQA for their ongoing support. He gave a broad overview of the process, who had been involved and timescales noting the existence of a shortlist of names for all three bodies and acknowledging this was not an easy task with lots to consider. Ministerial involvement was the next step and further feedback during April.

The next NQB Delivery Board is scheduled for Wednesday 19 April at 15:00.

Back to top