Education Reform Qualifications Body Delivery Board minutes: October 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 12 October 2022.

This document is part of a collection

Attendees and apologies


  • Liz McGrath (Chair) (LMcG)
  • Fiona Robertson (FR)
  • John Booth (JB),
  • Martin Campbell (MC)
  • George Brown (GB)
  • Liz Cunningham (EC)
  • Erin McCabe (EM)
  • Chris Graham (CG)
  • Ken Thomson (KT)
  • Stuart McKenna (SMcK)
  • Lyndsay McRoberts (LMcR)
  • Julie MacDonald (JMcD).


  • Raymond Holloway (RH)
  • Simon Allan (SA)


  • Isabel Nisbet (IN)
  • Dawnne Mahmoud (DM)
  • Mike Baxter (MB)
  • Sharon McGuigan (SMcG)


  • Shannon Quinn (SQ)
  • Louise Wright (LW)

Items and actions

Minute of previous meeting

The Delivery Board agreed the previous set of minutes from the previous meeting on 13 September 2022 reflected all areas of discussion.

Previous actions

  • 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 location has yet to be made by the Minister. Update: 12 October 2022 – Cab Sec meeting has been rescheduled to Tuesday 18 October. So far there has been no specific consideration on Accreditation functions, the decision required is regarding where Accreditation is located. This action remains ongoing. QDB-07
  • SMcG and CG to have offline discussions regarding accreditation documents prior to submission to Cab Sec review. Update: 12 October 2022 – EM confirmed closure as conversations have taken place between Accreditation staff and Cab Sec. Closed. QDB-08
  • PMO (Programme Management Office) will share today’s (13 September) papers and finding with external colleague Julie MacDonald. Update: 12 October 2022 – closed. QDB-10
  • LMcG to share impact assessment of the delay in funding regarding Target Operating Model (TOM) workstream at the next New Qualifications Body (NQB) Delivery Board. Update: 12 October 2022 - planning remains ongoing although dependent on progress on deliverables. An update expected by next NQB Delivery Board on 17 November. QDB-11
  • CG to include JB in relevant correspondence and discussions going forward regarding external communication and engagement. Update: 12 October 2022 - approach to joint communications noted. Closed. QDB-12
  • CG to clarify the timeline regarding Legislation workstream after Thursday’s (16 September) ministerial meeting. Update: 12 October 2022 - Steve Borley will now represent SQA and the NQB at the Policy and Legislation Board. Closed. QDB-13
  • CG and Scot Gov team to schedule meetings ahead of the mid-October deadline to discuss interdependencies, background work etc. Update: 12 October 2022 Unite members are content to close this action on the condition they be included in any next phase discussions going forward. Closed. QDB-14
  • a 2x2 grid summarising the identified Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats from the review should be added to the next iteration of the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) findings summary. Update: 12 October 2022 – Closed. QDB-15
  • risk QBR_009R has no scoring within the risks and issues slide within the NQB Delivery Board pack, this requires review and updating. Update: 12 October 2022 – Closed. QDB-16
  • risk QBR_010R has no scoring within the risks and issues slide within the NQB Delivery Board pack, this requires review and updating. Update: 12 October 2022 – Closed. QDB-17
  • LMcG and MB will arrange with the ER programme to include the wider programme risk register in future NQB Delivery Board packs. Update: 06 October 2022 - LMcG has checked in with ER PMO for the current risk log and the other documents being shared. Link to SG ER website to follow. Update: 12 October 2022 – Closed. QDB-18
  • PMO will circulate the Book of SQA to all members. Update: 27 September 2022 - This was actioned by PMO. Update: 12 October 2022 – Closed. QDB-19
  • MB will circulate a paper prepared by SG covering the Education Reform Programme on the disclosure of information within the NQB Delivery Boards and any subsequent outputs. Update: 27 September 2022 - document circulated to attendees and attached an as appendix item on the NQB Delivery Board pack 12 October. Update: 12 October 2022 – Closed. QDB-20

Project overview dashboard update

LMcG provided an update on the project dashboard noting that though RAG (Red, Amber, Green) status was red overall, good progress on deliverables is now being made as project resource now available due to the recent funding award, however the time to deliver deliverables 1 to 6.1 is extremely constrained. In addition, the commission remains incomplete due to outstanding actions on Accreditation and target dates for D6.2 and 7 still tbc due to the dependency on D6.1 and Hayward Review. LMcG also tabled a draft Delivery Board workplan for suggestions/comment. 

Action – QDB-22 - PMO to circulate Delivery Board workplan.

Point of Discussion: PMO sent invites for the next three NQB Delivery Boards, however, due to the Strategic Board recently scheduled on 13 December, it may benefit the NQB Delivery Board to also meet on 08 December. The Strategic Board will walk-through the outputs to support Deliverable 6.1 for all projects. 

Action – QDB-24 - PMO will review the format of the dashboard.

Action – QDB-23 - PMO to send out poll to collate feedback on potential extra NQB Delivery Board to take place on 08 December prior to Strategic Board.

Approximately one third of the overall funding request to support Reform made by SQA was released by SG in September, this has been allocated to backfill roles in SQA of those who have moved into Reform positions. The DB discussed and agreed that additional funds will be needed imminently to support the next stage of the project in 2023 and beyond. An updated funding request will be submitted to SG when further work on deliverables 2 to 6.1 has been progressed.

Action – QDB-25 - LMcG to reflect conversation around resource and funding in the HR. 
Owner – Liz McGrath

Action – QDB-26 - 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.
Owner – PMO

Workstream updates

Target Operating Model (TOM) workstream

RH provided an update noting that the onboarding to the Reform team is ongoing along with engagement with Scot Gov Organisational Design colleagues to confirm our proposed approach to blueprinting. Draft Purpose and Mission statements were shared with DB members for comment. Internal and external engagement will take place before the statements are finalised. 

Colleague engagement update

JB provided an update on the Colleague Engagement workstream, noting that the Communications Team were engaging colleagues on the Purpose and Mission, the SWOT analysis; QDB Board, National Discussion and the Hayward Review updates are also ongoing. Louise Hayward took part in an internal SQA staff session on Monday 10 October. Colleagues are interested in the replacement and creation of the new body and its direct impact on them and on stakeholders. There is also a growing concern regarding the timing of the ongoing reviews, and we must ensure that we recognise the impacts of that.

DB members reflected that it was important to remember that SQA will need to continue to deliver existing services during the reform process, maintaining continuity and continuing to deliver for learners. Discussion on resource, capacity and engagement will remain important. It was noted that DB members had had feedback that the mid December timeline for views to be submitted to the National Discussion was ambitious.

External comms and engagement update

JB provided an update on advising that at the next QDB Board (17 November) the stakeholder map and narrative should be ready for review, drawing on the user and stakeholder perspective and analysis. The first external communication will include the mission and purpose, etc. A joint narrative and overall engagement plan between SQA, ScotGov and Education Scotland is being formed to avoid engagement overload and to ensure we reach the ‘seldom heard’ voices. 

Action – QDB-27 - CG to provide ScotGov webpage on published materials for staff reference.
Owner – Chris Graham

Legislation update

CG provided an update confirming that the new Qualification Body is to be in place during 2024 and the Bill introduced Spring 2023. Once the commitments are agreed and published, a timeline will be structured to support the legislative process. He also noted the policy team is currently being resourced.

Spotlight on

Education Reform – analysis of stakeholder and user perspectives

SA presented the work he had been leading on, noting that at the last meeting, the SWOT analysis formed by SQA staff was presented; today the user and stakeholder perspective will be presented for discussion of how this will help shape engagement and the creation of the new body. The gathering of this feedback has been ongoing since 2020, therefore some suggested actions have already been taken. 

SA provided an overview of information on external views regarding SQA’s performance noting the impact of 2020 with drops in various key indicators. There has been partial recovery since 2020 but it’s not yet at the pre-pandemic levels and SA reflected on how the effect of COVID was not the same for all audiences. SA also provided key stakeholder group information from 2022 where a range of complex and varied negative and positive reviews was shown.

When questioned about what improvements SQA might make, various suggestions were provided: be more proactive, create better communications, improve the SQA website, be quicker when communicating/ responding to customers. SA also noted that whilst the credibility rating of key SQA Qualifications remains between 80-90%, unchanged from pre-pandemic, there is appetite for change to qualifications. He noted some Cross cutting themes and that the impacts of Covid-19 are being felt still despite progress being made.

DB members thanked SA for his presentation and members went on to discuss the themes presented, noting the variability of stakeholder understanding of SQA’s roles and responsibilities and agreeing this research can be used to help inform our approach and the eventual operating model.

Education Reform Programme dashboard 20220927

LM presented the Education Reform Programme Dashboard 20220927
Further to the last meeting, this Programme wide summary is created by SG PMO and presented to the Programme Strategic Board. DB members may find this useful context and we will include in papers on an ongoing basis.

Strategic values and direction - Policy and Legislation Delivery Board 18 October 2022 

LM presented the Strategic Values and Direction - Policy and Legislation Delivery Board 18 October 2022
This item has been provided to the NQB Delivery Board for information and context. This document sets out the programme vision, mission, role, purpose and background information on how the programme will work overall. There is also update on the recent Gateway Zero review and key publication dates.

Qualifications Body Reform Programme risks and issues update 

The meeting opened with six red risks and LMcG noted that the areas of concern raised during the meeting were largely reflective of the current RAID position however she proposed a revised RAID and HR to better reflect DB discussion around elements such as Tertiary Review, Skills Review, the constrained timeline for completion of NQB and other reform, delay to Accreditation and funding requirement.

Action – QDB-28 - LMcG to update and share project documentation prior to submission to SG PMO for use at the next ER Programme Strategic Board.
Owner – Liz McGrath

The DB recognised the Hayward Review and Skill Review, both of which are due to report back to SG during March 2023, are two significant dependencies for the new qualification body. 

Action – QDB-29 - PMO to add the Skill Review deadline of March 2023 to the dependency register.
Owner – PMO

Highlight report for Education Reform PSB

LM presented the HLR for the ER PSB. The HR will be revised to reflect DB discussions as noted in Point 6 above and recirculated to members for consideration and comment.

Any other business

Action – QDB-30 - PMO to add Education Reform - Programme Management - Code of Conduct for External Board Members V 0.1 as a potential agenda item for QDB Board 17 November. LMcG and EM will meet to discuss.
Owner – PMO

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 - Code of Conduct for External Board Members V 0.1
Appendix 2. Book of SQA
Appendix 3. Glossary v1.0
Appendix 4. Education Reform - Commissioning PID - New Qualifications Body - 1.2

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