Headteacher Recruitment and Retention Working group meeting minutes - 6 December 2023

minutes of the Headteacher Recruitment and Retention Working Group on 6 December 2024

Attendees and apologies

  • Laurence Findlay, Association of Directors of Education Scotland (Chair) 
  • Zak Tuck, Scottish Government (Secretariat) 
  • Zoè Robertson, Scottish Council of Deans of Education  
  • Seamus Searson, Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association 
  • John Devine, Breadalbane Academy 
  • David Smith, the Educaitonal Instistute of Scotland (EIS) 
  • Lesley Whelan, Education Scotland 
  • Victoria Smith, General Teaching Council for Scotland 
  • Shagufta Nasar. Scottish Association of Minority Ethnic Eduactors (SAMEE)
  • Lindsey Stanley, Moray Council, Association of Directors Education in Scotland, Personal Network (ADES) 
  • Sabrina McCready, Inverclyde Academy 
  • Tim Wallace, Association of Head Deputes in Scotland (AHDS) 
  • Lucy Rudkin, Scottish Government (Secretariat) 


  • Stuart Robb, Scottish Government 
  • Aleksandra Jonca, Scottish Government 

Items and actions

Welcome & Introductions 

The Chair welcomed attendees to this meeting and noted apologies from Aleksandra Jonca and Stuart Robb. 

Minutes and Updated Action Log  

The minutes of the previous meeting on 29 August 2023 were agreed. The chair then provided an update on the groups live action log. 

The chair informed the group that several of our live actions are now completed and closed. 

The chair also confirmed that the letter drafted by the chair to SNCT regarding job sizing has now been issued and that everyone was copied in. 

Education Scotland to provide an update in today's meeting regarding excellence in headship and Into headship strategic oversight group. 

The think piece paper was to be shared with each organisation is still open on our live actions as a discussion will be held at our in-person meeting in March. 

Linsdey Stanley provided an update on the approaches that local authorities are taking in releasing participants who take part in the Into headship programme and explained a wide spread of variety across each local authority and mentioned there was no consistency across the board on days to take for study breaks and time back.

Linsdey explained briefly that ADES are working on a proposal for getting a minimum ‘Study break’ agreed across each local authority.

Action – following the next meeting in March 2024, Laurence Findlay to write to the Cabinet Secretary of Education on behalf of the group to introduce the work of the group and discuss our priorities and concerns.  

Workplan development discussion 

The chair discussed clear links between the Strategic Board for Teacher Education (SBTE) and the Headteacher Recruitment and Retention Working Group (HTRRWG).  

The chair invited the secretariat  to provide an overview on the 3 SBTE workstreams:

  • Workforce planning and increasing diversity of the profession, led by COSLA and supported by SG, SCDE, ADES & GTCS

  • improving the promotion of teaching as a valued career, led by SG and supported by GTCS, COSLA trade unions 

  • continuum of teacher education, led by GTCS, SCDE and Education Scotland 

As all three aims are linked to HTRRWG prioritises, it was discussed rather than coming up with new actions that the group could adapt the SBTE model and develop small workstreams led by different organisations, with the Scottish Government’s support. 

Action – secretariat to circulate the three aims and work going on in SBTE along with the HTRRWG minutes. 

The chair suggested the use of the planned in-person meeting in March to come up with the key actions and which organisation leads for them.  

As the SBTE group are meeting in early February the timeline works well for the HTRRWG meeting in March as Scottish Government should have more detail on the structure so we can investigate how to combine the groups workplans.  

Action – secretariat to circulate an update on the SBTE workplan after the SBTE meeting in February. 

Into Headship 

Lindsey Stanley mentioned that she’d heard discussion of possible plans to remove the requirement for into headship, which opened a group discussion. 

Tim Wallace explained there was no discussion of removing the requirement from ADHS but stressed the fact that we do need to discuss the support for people to achieve that standard.  

The secretariat also stated that Scottish Government are not looking into the removal of into headship and explained that it is in legislation so pausing or removing it is not straightforward. 

David Smith reports back to the EIS salary committee on the work from HTRRWG which are due to meet 7 December 2023. David is going to raise the possibility of standardisation across each local authority and the discussion of removal requirement of into headship. 

Action – David Smith to provide an update regarding into headship discussion with the EIS salary committee meeting to the chair who will circulate with the group. 

The chair then urged all members to attempt to meet in person in Aberdeen to discuss HTRRWG workplan at March’s meeting. 

Sustainable Schools Research Project – Update by Lesley Whelan  

The Chair invited Lesley Whelan to provide an update on the sustainable schools research project as the scottish advisory group met on the 25th of October. The project has been taken forward in three of the UKs nations, including Scotland.  

Lesley then provided a reminder of the purpose of the group. Explaining that the overarching research questions are regarding recruitment, training and retention of school leaders. 

The project team have been in place since summer 2022 and the scottish advisory group have met twice since. The work that the team have undertaken so far includes: 

  • Undertaking a rapid review of evidence and literature across the 3 nations  

  • Looking at the programmes and policies of the evidence review which concentrates on leadership programmes in all 3 nations  

Research that has been undertaken show's themes coming out from expert interviews which include: 

  • The changing role of the Headteachers 

  • Aspirations, recruitment and retention of school leaders 

  • Support and professional learning and development 

The scottish advisory group will be undertaking locality work for different areas to review themes in school leadership and Lesley updated the group that Scotland's would be in focusing on Glasgow, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. 

Action - Lesley offered to keep the HTTRWG updated on the scottish advisory groups work after their January meeting and provide a copy of data analysis papers.   

Excellence in Headship and Into Headship Strategic Oversight Group  

Lesley Whelen provided an update on a various point from the groups live action log on behalf of Education Scotland. 

Into Headship 

Similarly, the into headship strategic oversight group have been agreeing and updating their workplan, focusing on several aspects, revisions to the programme guidance document, support for participants and developing greater understanding of the purposes and outcomes of the programme overall.  

Now we are going to have a workplan for HTRRWG and the into headship group, it was mentioned that may be beneficial to share work across both groups. This is to ensure that the work is complimentary and does not overlap. 

The into headship design group have been updating their guidance document, this document provides information on programme outline, learning outcome and assessments.  

The guidance document was shared at the recent meeting and suggestions were flagged, one of which being the need to have guidance on the professional verification progress and this is being raised with the design group.  

The strategic group also agreed it was important to have a wider thinking and work with local authority colleagues. 

A proposal that study days should be at least a minimum commitment to support those on the into headship programme, for example one day per term as a minimum. This is going to be taken to AHDS to look at further. It was noted that numbers accessing the programme have never been higher showing the programmes demand. 

Who funds the minimum day was raised, but this must be discussed with ADES. The group is looking at what the programme participants need and the principles need to be agreed through ADES around budgets/finance.  

The Scottish Government have said that budget for 2024 to 2025 will be challenging but are hopeful that there will not be a significant reduction on the amount that has previously been available for into headship.  

It was queried if numbers are as high in both primary and secondary, Lesley confirmed they have more primary accessing now, and explained we have more primary schools than secondary. 

Excellence in Headship update 

Lesley then updated the group on excellence in headship. Colleagues have been working with headteachers and headteachers working through the programme. They have rationalised the programme into 3 strands: 

  • Leadership for learning which includes aspects around critical and self-reflection, building capacity and engaging with policy  

  • Managing complex change 

  • Tighter leadership for system 

Scotland listens first session happened during Covid-19 where teachers who completed excellence in headship were able to share their experiences, learning and feedback. Another session will be held January 18th 2024 in Edinburgh and an invitation was offered to the HTRRWG group. 


Secretariat provided a brief update on the centre of teaching excellence. As SG Reform colleagues are leading this, they have provided a summary for the group. 

Ensuring teachers and practitioners are supported in developing high quality teaching is essential. Creating the centre is an important component of reform.  

Centre of Teaching Excellence initial aims:

  • Ensuring scotland remains on the forefront of education 

  • Learning from research, learning form international practice 

  • Distilling research and evidence into practical support for all teachers in scotland 

  • Strengthening links between academia and the profession 

  • Drawing on the experience of children and young people 

  • Developing teaching resources 

 Next steps are a plan series of engagements to hear from teachers and practitioners, local government, universities, national engagement bodies in line with the commitment to co-design.  

There was discussion about the possibility of an engagement opportunity within HTRRWG as this group could help focus in on the leadership aspect for development.   

Zoe Robertson suggested we should take all opportunities coming our way to discuss the centre of excellence and would like HTRRWG help shape it in a way that works best for the system. Any centre that is about progressing the expertise of teachers in the system, is part of teacher education therefore it needs to line up with what we are looking at in the SBTE.  

A roundtable for those who are interested has been suggested, possibly in January to discuss views centre for teaching excellence was suggested, depending on the progress timeline from reform colleagues. It was further suggested that it would be more productive to have this discussion with SG leads on the CTE. Secretariat agreed to follow up with reform colleagues to discuss HTRRWG involvement in the discussion on the CTE and co-design process. 

Action – potential roundtable in January about Centre forhttps://www.gov.scot/groups/headteachers-recruitment-and-retention-working-group/ teaching excellence.

Action –  secretariat to follow up with SG Reform colleagues leading on the centre for teaching excellence to discuss how HTRRWG can be involved in discussions and co-design. 

It was flagged at the meeting that the groups next date is on the same day as the into headship conference in Dundee. Therefore a discussion of rearranging the date was had. As the into headship conference is in the morning it may be possible for members attending both meetings, depending on into headships agenda.  

Action – potential rearranges of March date as same day of into headship conference in Dundee. 

 Date of Next Meeting: Date of Next Meeting  

12th March 2024 - Aberdeen – Hybrid with preference for most to attend in person.

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