Education Reform Qualifications Body Delivery Board minutes: November 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 17 November 2022.

This document is part of a collection

Attendees and apologies


  • Mike Baxter (MB) (Chair)
  • Liz McGrath (LMcG)
  • Fiona Robertson (FR)
  • John Booth (JB)
  • Dawnne Mahmoud (DM)
  • Liz Cunningham (LC)
  • Martin Campbell (MC)
  • Sharon McGuigan (SM)
  • Chris Graham (CG)
  • Ken Thomson (KT)
  • Stuart McKenna (SM)
  • Andy Harvey (AH)


  • Julie MacDonald (JM)
  • Lyndsay McRoberts (LMcR)
  • Erin McCabe (EMcC)
  • Isabel Nisbet (IN)
  • George Brown (GB)


  • Kat Hannah (KH)
  • Stuart McLaren (SMcL)
  • Raymond Holloway (RH)
  • Hazel Porteous (HP)
  • Rhianna McLaughlin (RMcL)
  • Louise Wright (LW)

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

MB welcomed all to the meeting including Andy Harvey who was attending for the first time as a representative for EIS (Educational Institute Of Scotland).

Minute of previous meeting

NQB DB (New Qualifications Body Delivery Board) discussed the comments against the previous set of minutes taken on Wednesday 12 October 2022. 
Previous actions - QDB-08 – amend provided by SMcG to be made.
New action (page 5) – SMcG requested clarification on wording around action QDB-30, in relation to the Code of Conduct for external board members. See section 2. Previous actions for further information.

Previous actions

  • CG to amend the Project Initiation Document (PID) 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: 17 November 2022 –CG said a meeting was scheduled for today with SG communications and policy colleagues to agree a date for announcing the location of Accreditation. Concern was raised due to the delay in confirming the location for Accreditation as this is impacting the progress of Reform planning as there are interactions between Accreditation and Awarding. However, the primary concern is the eighteen-month period of uncertainty for Accreditation staff and several deadlines missed. CG confirmed that SG have decided where Accreditation will be located, however, they require to go through the process to issue communication. SMcG highlighted that people are at the centre of this decision and asked SG to prioritise Accreditation staff and aim to provide a decision by end of the year. QDB-07
  • LMcG to share impact assessment for the delay in funding regarding Target Operating Model (TOM) workstream at the next New Qualifications Body (NQB) Delivery Board. Update: 17 November 2022 – LMcG advised planning is ongoing, however not yet complete. QDB-11
  • KT and GB to meet offline to discuss action QDB-07 and Accreditation in more detail. Update: 17 November 2022 – agreed to close. QDB-21
  • PMO to circulate Delivery Board workplan. Update: 17 November 2022 – agreed to close. QDB-22
  • PMO to send out poll to collate feedback on potential extra NQB Delivery Board to take place on 08 December prior to Strategic Board. Update: 17 November 2022 – agreed to close. QDB-23
  • PMO will review the format of the dashboard. Updates: 17 Novermber 2022 – the dashboard has been reworked, included in papers. Action can close. QDB-24
  • LMcG to reflect conversation around resource and funding in the HR. Update: 17 November 2022 – HR updated and circulated for comment. agreed to close. QDB-25
  • PMO to reflect DB discussion around the number and timescales of reviews, for example, Tertiary and Skills reviews, impacting SQA/NQB to the existing risk/dependency within the HR, RAID (Risks, Assumptions, Issues, Dependencies) and Dashboard. Update: 17 November 2022 – documentation updated. Agreed to close. QDB-26
  • CG to provide ScotGov webpage on published materials for staff reference. Update: 17 November 2022 – agreed to close. QDB-27
  • LMcG to update and share project documentation prior to submission to SG PMO for use at the next ER Programme Strategic Board. Update: 17 November 2022 – agreed to close. QDB-28
  • PMO to add the Skill Review deadline of March 2023 to the dependency register. Update: 17 November 2022 – this has been completed. Propose to close. QDB-29
  • PMO to add Education Reform - Programme Management - Code of Conduct for External Board Members V 0.1 as a potential agenda item for NQB Delivery Board 17 November. LMcG and EM will meet to discuss. Update: 17 November 2022 – LMcG advised that SG PD is happy to consider new wording for the Code of Conduct and she will progress with Trade Union (TU) assistance. Further discussion to take place 15 December Delivery Board meeting. QDB-30

New Qualifications Body Programme summary update

The format of the summary has been refreshed since discussion at the last DB however 6.2 and 7 milestones dates, and Accreditation location and scope remain outstanding, and Hayward and Withers reviews continues as dependencies. 

Workstream updates                                

Target Operating Model (TOM) workstream 

RH advised that work on creating current service blueprints highlighting and explaining good practice / pain points from an internal and external perspective is ongoing. How the design principles will be adopted by the new qualifications body is being considered in the discussions around the target operating model. The high-level draft TOM will be shared with TU and broader management team ahead of the review at the next Delivery Board.

SMcG asked where the SG Fairwork Framework was in the design principles.

Colleague engagement

DM advised that the Core Reform team is up and running and able to engage more effectively going forward. Creating and communicating the vision of the new organisation will be carried out early next year by hosting staff information programmes, drop-in sessions and though face to face communication where possible. SMcG highlighted the importance of meaningful engagement with TU and staff despite time being constrained for the programme and noted that the high-level draft TOM should be shared with TU. DM stated that some staff are asking questions regarding transferring to the new organisation and TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment), while others are asking questions about the broader reform landscape and how it relates to the new QB. Answers on all reform topics would soon be forthcoming.

External comms and engagement 

JB noted that concern remains around the busy reform landscape and lack of uniform timelines across the wider Reform Programme and work remains ongoing with SG to help improve understanding however, this is still a risk. NQB approach to brand development is on track to bring for discussion at the next meeting. 

NQB DB highlighted the Programme Strategic Board is key to successful communications and SG assistance is required to ensure alignment and that the various reviews, including Withers and Tertiary education are important to the Reform Programme and the challenge is to ensure all align across the education reform. 


CG note that work continues with engagement on policy instructions. The bill, that will cover the functions of the new qualifications body and independent inspectorate, has been submitted for agreement and feedback is due end of this week. The latest this bill can be introduced is May 2023. 

NQB DB discussed the potential impact on the legislation of the reviews not due to complete until end March 2023, agreeing that the choreography of other review work is important. The group discussed the timelines and if they were realistic starting with the December presentation of the TOMs noting that felt very constrained and that a high-level position will be presented with options and caveats. However, the work and engagement will be completed properly and in line with process. 

SMcG stated that Unite would support a review of the timelines to ensure this is carried out in the right way and prevent uncertainty for staff. 

Spotlight on

Outline engagement strategy

SMcL presented an overview of the strategy noting the importance of engagement and the variety of external stakeholders involved. He reflected that most stakeholders do not yet know enough regarding the replacement of SQA, or the roles and responsibilities of the new organisation. SMcL continued with recommendations on approach, such as face to face engagement where possible, but also good use of digital channels that are clear and accessible to all audiences. 

The overarching objectives are:

  • Inform all audience groups about education reform, how the replacement of SQA will affect them, and how they can make their views heard
  • Listen and hear learners, teachers, lecturers, parents and carers, and any other key stakeholders, through a wide-reaching programme of engagement
  • Act on feedback and insight about what our key audiences say about what they need, collaborating on the development of the new body’s qualifications, services, culture, and values

KH added that whilst we require to be as inclusive and collaborative as possible, there is the risk of creating engagement fatigue, therefore the strategy is to use the engagement framework. The overarching principles cover meaningful and purposeful engagement, structured across all the education reform bodies, being far-reaching and inclusive by using different tools and tactics. Additionally, be user-centred with clear and easy to access information and be responsive. 

An Engagement Manager has been recruited and work can now begin on the development of our detailed engagement plan. NQB DB were asked to provide comments on the proposed approach and provide comments on the draft high-level narrative and activities.

NQB DB discussed how communications will be branded noting the options were SQA branding, Delivery Board branding or Scottish Government and that a decision still requires to be made. 

Group members were asked to provide commentary on the engagement papers over the next few days. 

Programme Board – PB08 20221108 – Design Framework – Paper 5

LMcG gave a brief overview of the paper from PB08 that reminded members of the design framework, principles and process being used. This will assist with the narrative for the December Programme Board. A review of the ‘as-is’ situation and the ‘to-be’ considerations is noted. The paper is for NQB DB information but comments or questions can be fed back to LMcG who will include for SG Project Management Office (PMO)/Programme Director.

Programme Board – PB08 20221108 – Roles and Responsibilities commission – Paper 4

LMcG gave a brief overview of the paper from PB08 noting that it was agreed at PB that it was useful to set out how the three new bodies will fit into the wider education system and where responsibilities will lie. The PID and SG Playbook advised that ‘horizontal commissions’ will be in place to ensure a common approach; however, confirmation is pending how the commission will be resourced and who will be involved. Any further feedback on this paper is welcomed. 

QBR Programme risks and issues update 

LMcG advised that the risk register is being reviewed and NQB risks may be able to be updated or moved on following consideration from the SQA corporate risk register and ER Programme risk register. The risk register will be refreshed and available for discussion at the next Delivery Board meeting.

EM had provided an update on risk number four prior to the meeting, and this will be updated in due course.

Highlight report for Education Reform Programme Board

The highlight report will continue to be updated with changes between now and the next Board on 15 December 2023. The QBR Programme is reporting red due to dependencies, time constraints and Accreditation decision.

Any other business        

Nothing to report. 

The following documents were included in the board pack which was circulated to all members prior to the meeting:

Appendix 1. Education Reform - Programme Management - Programme Board
PB08 20221108 - Highlight Report - New Inspectorate Body – Paper 8

Appendix 2. Draft NQDB workplan 22021007

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