Public appointment: members reappointed to Scottish Qualifications Authority Board

Public appointment news release.

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The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills today announced the reappointments of Anna Davis, Grahame Smith and Ken Thomson as Members of the Scottish Qualifications Authority Board.


Anna Davis is a highly regarded management consultant, trainer, and coach, who specialises in performance management, implementing strategy and leadership effectiveness. She has 15 years international experience of management consultancy with PwC and IBM, focussing on business modelling and balanced scorecards. Building on her Masters in Operational Research she completed strategic, performance and financial analysis for many organisations ranging from Air New Zealand, Energy Australia, the Swiss government and Deutsche Telekom abroad to HMRC, the Home Office, Defra and London Underground in the UK.

Anna set up her own business in 2008 helping transform organisations through: clarifying their strategy; simplifying their operations; improving performance management; implementing systems and systems thinking; and leadership coaching. Her passion is helping organisations make a difference and helping people achieve their potential, especially those who have had a difficult start in life. Her clients have included colleges, SMEs and NDPBs and she is currently working to help deliver The Promise Scotland through partnerships creating systemic change.

She is the Chair of Blue Triangle, where predominantly young people with severe social issues, often associated with addiction, homelessness and poor care experiences, are housed nurtured and supported to build a positive future. She is a strong advocate for diversity on boards and is also part-time acting Chief Operating Officer for Changing the Chemistry.

Grahame Smith is the former General Secretary of the Scottish TUC. He is a Graduate of Strathclyde University, where he obtained an Honours Degree inEconomics and Industrial Relations. Grahame has served on a number of economic development and skills bodies. Currently, he serves as a Non-Executive Director of Skills Development Scotland and of the SQA. He is also Chair of the Programme Board for the Careers Review.

Professor Ken Thomson OBE joined Falkirk College of Further and Higher Education in 1994 following eight years in environmental education. He became Principal and Chief Executive of Forth Valley College in 2013 having previously held posts of Depute Principal, Director of Learning and prior to that, Head of Science. Ken graduated from the University of Nottingham with a BSc (Hons) in Zoology (1982) followed by a PhD at the University of Edinburgh (1986). He completed his Teacher Qualification FE from Strathclyde University in 1997. Ken was an HMI Associate Assessor for Science from 1999 to 2006. Ken is a member of the Colleges Scotland Principals Group (CPG) with lead responsibility for the sector’s Digital Ambition and School College Partnerships. He is a member of the Scottish Government’s Curriculum and Assessment Board as the Scottish Colleges representative. He is a Board member of the Scottish Qualifications Authority, Chairs the SQA Qualifications Committee and is a member of the Audit Committee. Ken has been a Board member of HES and on the Board of Trustees for Jisc, both roles held from 2014 to January 2021. Ken is a Fellow of the Institute of Directors and was awarded Regional IoD Director of the Year in 2020 and in 2021 was delighted to receive a special IoD honorary award for Leadership in Learning in recognition of his work in the education, learning and skills sector. In November 2019 Ken was awarded the OBE for services to education, economic development and the communities of the Forth Valley area. 


The reappointments will be for four years and will run from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2026 or until such time that the SQA is dissolved, abolished or wound up.

The reappointments are regulated by the Ethical Standards Commissioner.


The reappointments are part-time and attract a remuneration of £5180.98 for a time commitment of up to 23 days per year.

Other ministerial appointments

Grahame Smith is a board member and Chair of Careers Review Programme Board at Skills Development Scotland, for which he receives a remuneration of £336 per day, for a time commitment of 2 days per week. He is also a board member of Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board but does not receive any remuneration, for a time commitment of four days per month.

Anna Davis and Ken Thomson do not hold any other public appointments.

Political activity

All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, in accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees’ political activity within the last five years (if there is any to be declared) to be made public.   

Grahame Smith has canvassed on behalf of a party or candidate within the last five years.

Anna Davis and Ken Thomson have had no political activity within the last five years.


SQA is Scotland’s national awarding and accreditation body. It is an executive non-departmental public body that reports to Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Parliament. SQA’s remit and functions are set out in the Education (Scotland) Act 1996 as amended by the Scottish Qualifications Act 2002. SQA develops, maintains, and improves qualifications gained at Scotland’s schools, colleges, employers and training providers.

The Cabinet Secretary announced on 9 March 2022 the intention to replace the SQA with a new qualifications body. SQA will continue to deliver its functions while the new body is being developed, ensuring continuity for learners.

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