Skills: Shared Outcomes Assurance Group minutes: 23 August 2022

Minutes from the meeting held on 23 August 2022.

Attendees and apologies

Scottish Government (SG)

  • Helena Gray (Chair) Director, Fair Work, Employability and Skills (FWES)
  • Stephen Pathirana, Director, Advanced Learning and Science (ALS)
  • Adam Reid, Deputy Director, FWES
  • Helen Webster, Deputy Director, ALS
  • Richard Dryburgh, Team Lead, Fair Work and Employability, FWES
  • Hannah Garrow, Unit Head, Skills Delivery, FWES
  • Kirstie Corbett, Unit Head, Senior Principal Researcher, Advanced Learning And Skills Analysis (ALSA)

Skills Development Scotland (SDS)

  • Andrea Glass, Head of Regions and Enabling Sectors
  • Diane Greenlees, Director, Critical Skills and Occupations
  • Lynne Robson, Head of Evaluation and Impact

Scottish Funding Council (SFC)

  • Claire McPherson, Deputy Director for Policy
  • Sharon Drysdale, Assistant Director, Skills
  • James Dunphy, Director of Access, Learning and Outcomes
  • Martin Boyle, Director of Policy, Insight and Analytics
  • Seamus Spencer, Assistant Director/Outcome Agreement Manager

Scottish Government Secretariat

  • Linda McCourt, Programmes Unit (ALS)
  • Mary Maxwell, Programmes Unit (ALS)
  • John Keenan, Programmes Unit (ALS)


  • Stuart King, SG
  • Elspeth Hough, SG
  • Chris Brodie, SDS
  • Neville Prentice, SDS

Items and actions


Chair: Helena Grey, Director Fair Work, Employability and Skills

  • 10:00 to 10:05 welcome and review of actions by exception (paper 1) - Chair
  • 10:05 to 10:35 progress updates by exception (paper 2) - Senior Reporting Officer's (SROs)
  • 10:35 to 11:05 deep dive: regional pathfinders (paper 3) - SFC SRO
  • 11:05 to 11:15 update on Shared Outcome Framework (SOF) finalisation - SDS/SFC SROs (Verbal update)
  • 11:15 to 11:25 preparation for the ministerial bilateral
  • 11:25 to 11:30 AOB - Chair


Welcome and review of actions

The Chair welcomed the attendees and completed introductions for new members of the Group.

The Chair thanked the SROs for the timely return of papers ahead of the meeting, which helped the Secretariat review the papers ahead of the meeting.

The Chair indicated that the minutes and papers from the Shared Outcome Assurance Group (SOAG) in May and June and the minutes from the last Ministerial Bilateral had now been published on the Scottish Government website along with updated Terms of Reference.

The Chair thanked SFC and SDS for hosting mini-workshops at which SRO project owners had presented the projects in more detail. These had been extremely helpful and useful in fostering a deeper understanding of the work underway

There were no comments on the SOAG Action Tracker. All actions from the June SOAG had been completed.

Progress reporting: updates by Exception

The meeting heard updates on the following projects, with reference to the Project Status Reports which had been submitted prior to the meeting for all projects except project 8 (by prior agreement).

Foundation Apprenticeships: (SOAG/22/01) and Graduate Apprenticeships (SOAG/22/02)

Teams from both organisations were working on finalising a reporting process which will meet the Ministerial ask of reducing reporting requirements to ensure there is one streamlined reporting process which avoids duplication.

As the reporting systems are still being tested, the Red Amber Green (RAG) status will remain red until this is concluded. An additional meeting of the Joint Executive Group will be convened to report on progress against milestones.

Education and Skills Impact Framework (ESIF) (SOAG/22/03)

ESIF leads noted that good progress had been made with the production of 3 contextual reports (college, universities and MA pathways) which are to accompany the technical report. These have now been shared with the ESIF Collaborative Group and with senior colleagues in the agencies and in SG. 

It was noted that the reports will be sent to the Minister prior to publication and that SDS, SFC and SG will work collaboratively on the plan for publication .

Project Updates, reported by exception

Regional Pathfinders: North East (SOAG/22/04) and South of Scotland (SOAG/22/05)

These were the subject of the Deep Dive.

Pathfinders: Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan (CESAP) – Net Zero (SOAG/22/06) and Commercial and Domestic Heat in Buildings (SOAG/22/07)

No comments on the reporting template (PSR) provided.

Lifelong Skilling and Reskilling (SOAG/22/08)

Discussions between partners are taking place to agree the scope of the Project; a PSR will be presented to SOAG once the project brief has been agreed.

The Chair thanked SROs for their contributions.

Regional Pathfinders deep dive

The SRO for the Regional Pathfinders project gave a presentation on the Regional Pathfinders. She indicated that the Pathfinders were now fully resourced, with support from SDS and with consultancy procured.

Work package 2 will be delivered in 2 phases: (i) design of new offering (ii) implementation of new offering.

Analysis has been carried out examining changes in provision by comparing data from 2011 with more recent data.

The current economic uncertainty will not impede progress, in the delivery of work package 1, with capture of planned data continuing and a refresh to be carried out once more up to date economic data becomes available.

The SRO indicated that it would be useful to have a better understanding of the Regional Economic Policy Review refresh that is underway in the SG.

The North East pathfinder has improved pathways from school Senior Phase as a regional priority. The Health and Social Care Pathways work in the North East also has the potential to reach into the school Senior Phase, recognising the importance of this issue in the region.

The SRO highlighted the very positive working relationship between SFC and SDS which has contributed greatly to progress.

There was some discussion around mobility of learners and workers and the various factors that drove that mobility: economic, social and cultural and the implications for regional strategies.

The Chair thanked the SRO and looked forward to hearing further progress in due course.

Update on SOF finalisation

A housekeeping workstream was underway to finalise the ‘holding measures’ set out in the SOF: proposed measures will be presented to the next meeting of SOAG (scheduled for October 2022).

Preparation for Ministerial meeting

The meeting briefly discussed preparation for the Ministerial bilateral meeting. 

The Chair asked for any additions to the agenda to be notified to the Secretariat as soon as possible. 

Any other business

The Chair thanked the Group for a productive meeting and reminded the meeting of the procedures to be taken under GDPR were any participants to object to the inclusion of their information in the SOAG papers and minutes which were to be published on SG website.


  • action (230822-1): SG colleagues (ALSA, Comms and Reform Division) will work with SDS and SFC comms colleagues to develop common, agreed messaging on ESIF reports prior to publication
  • action (230822-2): SRO of Lifelong Upskilling and Reskilling indicated that he would meet colleagues from SDS and SFC to share insights from his recent work on North-East skills
  • action (230822-3): DD Skills division agreed to speak to the SRO of the SFC Regional Pathfinders to ensure linkages between the pathfinders and economy colleagues and DYW network and school co-ordinators
  • action (230822-4): DD Reform Division will speak to colleagues in SFC and SDS to prepare the item on Regional Pathfinders for the bilateral
  • action (230822-5): deep dive on CESAP Projects to be held at the next SOAG meeting


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