Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment Group minutes: December 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 15 December 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Louise Hayward (Convenor), Emerita Professor, University of Glasgow
  • Aileen Ponton, Chief Executive, Scottish Credit & Qualifications Framework
  • Andrea Bradley, General Secretary, EIS Union
  • Andrew Findlater, Depute Headteacher, Charleston Academy
  • Beinn Grant, Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament
  • Cheryl Burnett, Chair, National Parent Forum of Scotland
  • Douglas Hutchison, President, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland
  • Dr Edward Sosu, University of Strathclyde
  • Eileen Prior, Executive Director, Connect
  • Dr Gill Stewart, Director of Qualifications Development, SQA
  • Professor Gordon Stobart, Emeritus Professor, Institute of Education, University College London
  • Professor Jo-Anne Baird, Director, Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment
  • Professor Jonathan Powles, Vice Principal of Teaching, Learning & Students, University of the West of Scotland
  • Dr Joseph Smith, Lecturer Education, University of Stirling
  • Professor Kenneth Muir, University of the West of Scotland
  • Professor Ken Thomson, Principal and Chief Executive, Forth Valley College
  • Margaret Farragher, Executive Director, Policy, Analysis and Standards, SQA
  • Mo Whelton, Project Manager, Scottish Youth Parliament
  • Pauline Radcliffe, (newly appointed) Chief Executive, Scottish Credit & Qualifications Framework
  • Peter Bain, Headteacher, Oban and Tiree High Schools
  • Secretariat, Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment, Scottish Government


  • Barrie Sheppard, National Parent Forum of Scotland
  • Professor Chris Chapman, University of Glasgow
  • Professor Graham Donaldson, University of Glasgow
  • Tracy Black, Scotland Director, CBI

Items and actions


The Convenor welcomed members to meeting 7 of the Independent Review Group (IRG).

The Convenor invited comments on the minute of IRG 6. There were no comments, and the note was confirmed as final.

Update on Review

The Convener noted that the timetable for the Review had been updated.

New milestones were as follows: 

  • short written update to Cabinet Secretary will be provided week commencing 19 December 2022
  • public consultation closing 13 January 2023
  • interim report submitted to the Cabinet Secretary by the end of February 2023 and
  • final report submitted to the Cabinet Secretary by the end of May 2023 

Meeting Papers

The Convener noted that the following papers would be bases for today’s discussions:

  • paper 1: Draft model of future Qualifications and Assessment
  • paper 2: IRG draft decisions from IRG 6
  • paper 4; BGE Award and Transition Year (Ireland and South Korea’s model) 

The Convener invited comments from IRG members by correspondence on the following papers: 

  • paper 3: Latest iteration of Vision and Principles
  • paper 5: Analysis of Phase 2 CCG Meetings 

Paper 1: Draft model of future Qualifications and Assessment 

The Convener introduced the draft paper and asked the group to consider what the position statements discussed in the previous session, might look like in practise.

The draft paper contained three models for the IRG to consider. There were aspects of each of the models which the group liked.  It was noted they needed to be considered alongside the latest iteration of the Vision and Principles and updated position statements. A range of potential challenges with the models were identified by the group. The Convener noted that working through these challenges will be the focus for meeting 8 of IRG.

Paper 2: IRG Draft Decisions

The decisions taken by the IRG members at meeting 6 was introduced as a draft paper. The Secretariat took the group through the position statements agreed during IRG 6 inviting the group to confirm if they were still content with each of the draft positions.

Slight adjustments were discussed and agreement was confirmed by the group. IRG members suggested should the ‘decisions’ should be re-titled as ‘positions statements’ going forward, as this was a more accurate description.

Paper 4: BGE Award and Transition Year

The Convener introduced paper 4, which presented the idea of a Transition Year. Two international examples were explored; Ireland and South Korea. IRG members shared their thoughts on the potential advantages and disadvantages of introducing a Transition Year.  IRG members saw the potential benefits of a Transition Year but also noted that reform of the Senior Phase will have an impact on the BGE that may alleviate the need for a Transition Year.

Next Steps

  • public consultation closes on January 13th. Phase Two analysis will take place mid-January to mid-February
  • the independent report from Phase Two is due from the contractor in mid-February
  • phase three engagement will take place during the month of March

January and February will provide an opportunity to explore the challenges we have discussed at today’s meeting and where we stand in relation to a Transition Year.


  • amendments to the draft position paper to be made and shared with IRG
  • comments from IRG members by correspondence on papers 3 and 5
  • independent analysis of Phase Two will be shared with IRG
  • publication of Phase Two analysis on the Review’s website
  • IRG members will scheduled their Phase Three CCG meetings
  • the Secretariat team will prepare all material to support IRG members for Phase Three 
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