Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment Group minutes: November 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 24 November 2022

Attendees and apologies

  • Louise Hayward, (Convenor), Emerita Professor, University of Glasgow
  • Aileen Ponton, Chief Executive, Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework
  • 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
  • Eileen Prior, Executive Director, Connect
  • Dr Gill Stewart, Director of Qualifications Development, SQA
  • Gordon Stobart, Honorary Research Fellow, Oxford and Emeritus Professor of Education, University College London
  • Jo Anne Baird, Professor, University of Oxford
  • Jonathan Powles, Professor, University of the West of Scotland
  • Ken Muir, Professor, University of the West of Scotland
  • Ken Thompson, Professor, Forth Valley College
  • Mo Whelton, Scottish Youth Parliament
  • Peter Bain, Headteacher, Oban High School
  • Tracy Black, Scotland Director, CBI
  • Elizabeth Morrison, Professional Advisor, Scottish Government  
  • Secretariat, Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment, Scottish Government


  • Fiona Robertson, Chief Executive, SQA


  • Andrea Bradley, General Secretary, EIS Union
  • Chris Chapman, Professor, University of Glasgow
  • Dr Edward Sosu, University of Strathclyde
  • Gill Mann, Policy and Research Manager, SQA
  • Graham Donaldson, Professor, University of Glasgow
  • John Semple, National Parent Forum of Scotland
  • Dr Joe Smith, Lecturer, University of Stirling
  • Professor Mark Priestley, University of Stirling


Items and actions

Welcome and Introduction 

The Convenor welcomed all attendees to meeting six of the Independent Review Group (IRG) and acknowledged apologies.

  • the Convener expressed her intention to speak to all IRG members unable to attend today’s meeting to ensure they remain involved in the discussion
  • the minutes of IRG Five were agreed

November Update 

IRG members were provided with an update on the Review’s activities and engagement through October / November:  

  • on Friday 21 October 2023, the public consultation was launched 
  • material to conduct Phase Two Collaborative Community Group (CCG) meetings were shared with IRG members 
  • on Friday 11 November 2023 school and college packs were shared with all Scottish schools and colleges (via email) 
  • in November 2023 over 11 CCG Phase Two meetings have taken place
  • to raise awareness of the public consultation the Convenor has shared information via Twitter, and an animation has been shared via TikTok 

Since IRG five the convenor has attended a variety of meetings and events, some examples of these are:  

  • BOSCH group
  • Ms Shirley-Anne Somerville, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills
  • Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS) Conference
  • Joe Griffin, Director General Education and Justice
  • Education Scotland
  • Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) school and college ambassador event
  • a visit to the Royal Blind School, Edinburgh 

Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework - Presentation 

To follow on from the IRG five, SCQF presentation, there was a group discussion on the role of SCQF.  Key points of discussion included: 

  • the 4 key principles to “admit” a piece of learning to the SCQF 
  • credit points 
  • the allocation of credit points 
  • time required for learners at a specified SCQF level to achieve the learning outcomes 
  • notional learning hours (notional learning hours include all the learning activities that are required to achieve learning outcomes) 

This approach gives the SCQF the flexibility to recognise small pieces of learning such as short employer led programmes. IRG members were advised that further information can be found on the SCQF framework database.

Analysis of Phase One - Vision and Principles 

IRG members were provided an update on the Vision and Principles analysis paper. Information was drawn from: 

  • responses were received from 12 CCGs  
  • allied discussion groups   
  • a teacher's webinar  
  • 221 school and college responses 

The evidence gathered has offered a sound basis for the development of options for the future of qualifications and assessment. 

The feedback from Phase One has been independently analysed and the associated report (Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment: data analysis – phase 1) has been published.

SQA Presentation 

The Chief Executive and Chief Examining Officer of the SQA Fiona Robertson delivered a presentation to IRG members, followed by discussion.  The presentation included some of the following points: 

  • Covid shone a spotlight on assessment approaches and achievement of qualifications, this included some new and longstanding issues  
  • this Review is taking place at a time when there is organisational reform and policy review underway 
  • aspiration of  Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) was less qualification and examination, that hasn’t happened to a great extent 
  • SQA offers across a very wide portfolio of qualifications, which are largely internally assessed, but curriculum design and delivery in the Senior Phase determines choices 
  • principles of assessment are critical to credibility of qualifications

Group Discussion

The Group discussed possible risks to delivery of key recommendations of the final report.  These included: 

  • balancing policy ambition and implementation 
  • need to learn from the past and address implementation issues upfront, including:  
  • clear model of change and route map 
  • need for investment, to support change 
  • clarity of roles and responsibilities across Scottish education 
  • workload implications 
  • acceptance of the potential for unintended consequences 

CCG Updates 

To date several CCGs have concluded their Phase Two discussions.  A summary of the meetings was shared with IRG members.  The group discussed the paper considering the similarities and differences in the responses, and if there was any questions or points of clarity to share. 

Evidence Informed Ideas

IRG members considered a paper that was written to support gradual movement towards an agreed model for future of qualifications and assessment.  The purpose of the paper was to assist the IRG to move towards taking decisions on the main issues regarding our proposed approach to a new system of qualifications and assessment while reflecting the Vision and Principles.  

The Convenor thanked members for their time and contribution to discussions. 


  • the Convener will arrange to have one to ones with all IRG members missing from today’s discussion  
  • publish the agreed minute of IRG five  
  • publish the Phase One independent analysis   
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