Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment Group minutes: June 2022

Minutes from the meeting held on 30 June 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Louise Hayward (Convenor), Emerita Professor, University of Glasgow
  • Zainab Adeleye, Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament
  • Peter Bain, Headteacher, Oban High School
  • Jo-Anne Baird, Professor, University of Oxford
  • Andrea Bradley, General Secretary, EIS Union
  • Cheryl Burnett, Chair, National Parent Forum of Scotland
  • Beinn Grant, Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament
  • Douglas Hutchison, President, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland
  • Julie Kavanagh, Head of Partnerships and Communications, Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework
  • Gill Mann, Policy and Research Manager, SQA
  • Ken Muir, Professor, University of the West of Scotland
  • Jonathan Powles, Professor, University of the West of Scotland
  • Eileen Prior, Executive Director, Connect
  • Dr Joe Smith, Lecturer, University of Stirling
  • Dr Edward Sosu, University of Strathclyde
  • Ken Thomson, Professor, Forth Valley College
  • Mo Whelton, Scottish Youth Parliament


  • Tracy Black, Scotland Director, CBI
  • Chris Chapman, Professor, University of Glasgow
  • Graham Donaldson, Professor, University of Glasgow
  • Andrew Findlater, Depute Headteacher, Charleston Academy
  • Aileen Ponton, Chief Executive, Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework
  • Mark Priestley, Professor, University of Stirling
  • Barrie Shepperd, National Parent Forum of Scotland
  • Gordon Stobart, Honorary Research Fellow, Oxford and Emeritus Professor of Education, University College London

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Convenor welcomed members to the second meeting of the Independent Review Group (IRG).
The Convenor invited comments on the minute of IRG1. There were no comments, and the note was confirmed as final. 

Update from IRG members’ Collaborative Community Groups (CCG)

The Convenor invited members to provide a summary of the feedback which they had received from their first CCG meetings.
Comments and suggestions from CCGs included the following: 

  • the importance of language was emphasised; ‘every word should count’
  • ‘young people/learners’ should be replaced with ‘all learners’ and the term ‘recognise diversity’ should be replaced with something stronger for example, ‘understand diversity’
  • Vision Statement as currently drafted ‘does not reflect the importance and significance’ of lifelong learning 
  • the term ‘technical and professional’ should be used instead of ‘vocational’
  • Vision/Principles should recognise all achievements, not just academic
  • the four CfE (Curriculum for Excellence) capacities should be reflected within the Vision Statement
  • Vision Statement needs to be ‘more practical and readily understood’ by a wide range of audiences including learners
  • principle one and seven are very similar and could be combined 
  • we should carefully consider how we present ‘academic and vocational qualifications’ [in the Vision Statement and Principles] to show that both are valued equally
  • suggestion of a need for there to be a ‘commitment to equity and equality’ and a ‘commitment to achieving parity of esteem’ within the Vision Statement
  • the need for ‘professional respect’ of teachers and lecturers was raised
  • acknowledgement of the barriers faced (socio economic, bilingual etc.) when looking into accessibility of qualifications
  • the question of ‘who values qualifications?’ was raised in one CCG, and suggestion that we ‘move away from the current situation where qualifications can sometimes be seen to define an individual’s value’
  • suggestion that the Vision Statement should recognise the critical role of those who deliver qualifications namely teachers and lecturers

Discussion of engagement plan paper

The Secretariat introduced the draft Engagement Plan paper and invited comments from members. 
Comments from members included:

  • eight-week public consultation could be challenging for schools due to school holidays around this time 
  • jargon should be avoided to ensure language is accessible to all
  • the importance of managing expectations was noted
  • engagement should be ‘continuous, accessible and flexible’ so people can contribute in ways that suit them
  • important for packs to reach all schools and colleges
  • important to provide guidance to schools and colleges to ensure they get a broad range of voices and experiences
  • we [the Review] need to be clear what is meant by ‘cultural change’ and how we see that embodied in engagement strategy
  • consider engagement with early years and primary schools
  • important to consider how we ensure depth as well as quantity of evidence
  • consider a ‘pause on learning day’
  • use social media to spread information and awareness
  • it was noted that the Scottish Government’s National Discussion on education could be confusing as engagement is taking place at a similar time. It was noted that there should be a clear articulation between the two pieces of work

Evidence review paper 1 - National and International Approaches to Assessment – Scottish Government (SG) Analytical Service Unit paper

A member of the SG Analytical Service’s division introduced the paper, National and International Approaches to assessment and invited comments.
Comments from members included:

  • lessons can be learned from other systems but ‘Scotland cannot copy and paste a system’ from another country
  • there is already a significant body of evidence available on international systems and we should utilise this
  • accept prior learning from other countries (SCQF have charts and convert prior learning and qualifications)

Convener presentation

The Convener delivered a short presentation on next steps ‘towards options’ and noted that she and the Secretariat would construct questions and send out to IRG for use in their CCGs.

Action list

  • action 1 – Secretariat to develop a glossary of terms
  • action 2 - Secretariat to review the Review timeline in light of discussions
  • action 3 – Secretariat to review Engagement Plan in light of discussions
  • action 4 - Secretariat to liaise with colleagues leading on the National Discussion to invite them to future IRG meetings
  • action 5 - Secretariat to pursue communicationss support and consider developing a social media plan
  • action 6 – Convener/Secretariat to consider how and when to bring in international experts into IRG meetings
  • action 7 – Convenor and Secretariat to construct questions regarding options and send out to IRG members
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