International Council of Education Advisers minutes: September 2018

Minutes from the fifth meeting of the International Council of Education Advisers (ICEA), held on 19-20 September 2018.

Attendees and apologies

Council members

  • Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP (Chair)
  • Dr Carol Campbell
  • Professor Chris Chapman
  • Professor Graham Donaldson
  • Jayne-Anne Gadhia (20th only)
  • Professor Andy Hargreaves (via teleconference)
  • Dr Pak Tee Ng
  • Dr Pasi Sahlberg (19th only)
  • Dr Allison Skerrett
  • Lindsey Watt

Also present

  • Paul Johnston, Director General Education, Communities and Justice
  • Gayle Gorman, Chief Inspector of Education and Chief Executive, Education Scotland
  • Andy Bruce, Deputy Director, Learning Directorate, Scottish Government
  • Clare Hicks, Deputy Director, Learning Directorate, Scottish Government (19th only)


  • Kit Wyeth, National Improvement Framework Unit, Scottish Government (20th only)
  • Judith Tracey, National Improvement Framework Unit, Scottish Government
  • Elaine Kelley, National Improvement Framework Unit, Scottish Government

Items and actions

This note provides an overview of the discussion and key points from the fifth meeting of the International Council of Education Advisers (ICEA). The meeting took place in Glasgow and Edinburgh on 19 and 20 September 2018 and focused on the following areas: 

  • the 2019 National Improvement Framework and Improvement Plan
  • Education reform: collaboration for improvement

19 September 2018 

Breakfast meeting (SEC Glasgow)

Paul Johnston, Andy Bruce and Clare Hicks led a discussion with the Council about events and activity in Scotland since the last meeting in April 2018. This focused on Education Reform, the Scottish National Standardised Assessments and the joint agreement between the Scottish Government and local authorities. They also provided an update on teacher pay negotiations, the health and wellbeing commitment featured in the Programme for Government, and the Regional Improvement Collaboratives.

The ICEA were keen to understand their impact so far, and the Scottish Government’s ambition for their work going forward. Paul Johnston confirmed that we are keen for the Council to continue to play a significant role in providing advice to Ministers on the direction of travel.  The Scottish Government’s response to the first report from the ICEA sets out the actions the Scottish Government will be taking and that we will use the ICEA’s recommendations to inform the National Improvement Framework and Improvement Plan 2019.

Council session 2

The Council came together again following the Deputy First Minister’s keynote speech at the Scottish Learning Festival. The discussion was based around the supporting papers that had been provided to accompany the discussion:  The National Improvement Framework and Improvement Plan 2019 – ICEA(18)04, and Education reform: collaboration for improvement – ICEA(18)05.

Points made during the discussion included:

  • it will be important to learn from international experience and take on board any advice from countries that are considering similar issues as Scotland e.g. around   collaboration for learning, pedagogy etc 
  • the Council would welcome more data  in relation to the progress that is being made with the programme for furthering educational improvement
  • there are a range of approaches in place to evaluate the RICs work plans, including an independent research project to look at the overarching policy framework. The result of this will be shared with the Council
  • it is important to ensure that the various levels of improvement planning and reporting are co-ordinated to avoid any adverse impacts on the education system
  • Audit Scotland will be carrying out an audit of improvement in educational outcomes and may wish to speak to the Council once it is underway
  • the importance of values based leadership training for headteachers and depute headteachers. It is essential to have a programme of mentoring for aspiring leaders, and to consider a system for mentoring the mentors, which works well in Singapore 
  • there is a need to look at headteacher recruitment, and succession planning, as well as mentoring and support

The ICEA then held a session at the SLF to present and discuss the recommendations to the Scottish Government which were set out in their first formal report (published in June 2018). The session was chaired by Paul Johnston, Director General Education, Communities and Justice, Scottish Government. 


On the evening of 19 September, the Council members attended the Scottish Learning Festival (SLF) dinner hosted by the Deputy First Minister at Oran Mor, Glasgow.  

20 September 2018

Joint meeting 

On the morning of 20 September, Council members travelled to Broughton High School in Edinburgh to attend a joint meeting with the Scottish Education Council. The Deputy First Minister chaired the first half of the meeting, and Gayle Gorman continued chairing the meeting in the Deputy First Minister’s absence. 

View minutes from meeting at Broughton High School   

Council session 3 (Scottish Parliament)

Council members then travelled to the Scottish Parliament where David Leng, Product Owner, of the Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSA) provided a demonstration of the P1 assessment.

The Deputy First Minister then joined the meeting and the Council presented their conclusions from the two day meeting.

Points made by the Council during the discussion included:

  • it is encouraging to hear buy-in to the improvement programme at the joint meeting with the SEC that morning which is essential for moving forward 
  • there is a poverty related gap between young people who have many opportunities out of school to address all of the 4 CfE capacities, and those who will only have access to those opportunities in school e.g. Duke of Edinburgh etc. How do we address that
  • we need to think about how to change the way school leaders think about the exercise of power, and avoid a self-limiting mentality where professionals feel they have to wait for permission from the hierarchy before taking action that they believe will be helpful for the children and young people in their schools
  • recognition is important. There is a need to reinforce good behaviour and recognise the good in the child, the teacher, the classroom and the system. Should we be doing more to celebrate the achievements and behaviours we want to see in the classroom, system etc
  • we do not celebrate success enough. If people do not share their ideas and practices for fear of being seen as boasting, then it is impossible for others to  learn from those experiences. The challenge is how we accelerate the work that is beginning to be done to change this mentality, and how we create the networks necessary to allow teachers to share their experiences, without creating unnecessary bureaucracy
  • the Council mentioned that they had heard a lot of positive feedback about people wanting to be involved in the planned improvements and they had heard very little negativity.  However, there is still a need to for work around the definition/commitment to sharing practice and breaking down barriers
  • focus more on ensuring that teachers feel included in the change process. Everyone collaborates in their life, we just need to look at how they do it for teaching and learning
  • collaboration, that leads to system-wide improvement in student outcomes, does not happen by chance. School leaders need to be properly empowered to lead the culture of collaboration. Unless that leadership is in place then it is never going to happen
  • we need to create the conditions and context to build teacher capacity and to ensure teachers feel confident about the job they are doing (including allowing teachers to have the  time and space to make the teacher better at their job)
  • we need teachers to have good experiences of the new culture and approach we want. That requires strong leadership

The DFM concluded the meeting by thanking the Council for their valuable time and insight on how Scotland can enhance a collaborative culture across the system to support all young people to achieve their full potential.

Any other business

It was agreed that the Council would meet again in February 2019 and that further evaluation and discussion around the recommendations would continue between meetings.



ICEA fifth meeting agenda - September 2018
ICEA (18)05 - Education reform discussion paper
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