Strategic Board for Teacher Education minutes: February 2019

Minutes of the thirteenth meeting of the Strategic Board for Teacher Education, held on 13 February 2019.

Attendees and apologies

  • Clare Hicks, Scottish Government (Chair)
  • Scott Brand, Scottish Government (Secretary)
  • Sharon McLellan, AHDS
  • Kathy Cameron, COSLA
  • Alison Weatherston, Education Scotland
  • Susan Quinn, Educational Institute for Scotland
  • Ken Muir, General Teaching Council for Scotland
  • Barrie Sheppard, NPFS
  • Duncan Lawrie, Probationer Teacher
  • Andy Griffiths, Regional Improvement Collaboratives
  • Graham Hutton, School Leaders Scotland
  • Jo Hughes, Scottish Catholic Education Service
  • Margaret Lannon, Scottish Council of Independent Schools
  • David Roy, Scottish Government
  • Kevin Hanlon, Scottish Government
  • Stephanie Walsh, Scottish Government
  • Seamus Searson, Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

1. Clare Hicks thanked Seamus Searson for SSTA agreeing to host the meeting.

2. The Board welcomed Graham Hutton who was substituting for Jim Thewliss, Jo Hughes who was substituting for Barbara Coupar, and Alison Weatherston who was substituting for Gillian Hamilton.

3. Apologies were received from Dougie Atkinson, Kirsty Elder, Jane Peckham, Ian Rivers and Michael Wood.  

Minute of previous meeting

4. The minutes of the meeting of 11 December 2018 were agreed as accurate.  These will be made available on the Scottish Government website. The Board also agreed to publish all supporting papers for subsequent meetings. 

Early phase career of newly qualified teachers

5. Ken Muir introduced this paper by emphasising that it represented very early thinking on how the early phase career of newly qualified teachers might be restructured.  This could be achieved by taking a focused approach to building skills post qualification through the creation of high-quality, structured and modularised professional learning that allowed newly qualified teachers to address specific training needs relevant to their school context, following completion of their probation year.

6. In discussion, the Board questioned whether the scope of this support should be extended to all teachers; highlighted a number of operational issues that would require further consideration; and emphasised the importance of ensuring this approach was developed in conjunction with the work already underway on Career Pathways for Teachers. 

7. Clare Hicks emphasised the importance of securing a shared understanding of the range of provision on offer, including activity supported through the Professional Associations and the Regional Improvement Collaboratives.

8. The Board agreed that in terms of next steps, a sub-group should be established to develop the GTCS proposal further.  The Scottish Government to consider who might be best placed to assume the role of Chair and to approach SBTE members to confirm involvement in this work.  

Masters framework for teachers

9. Alison Weatherston updated the Board on progress towards revising the Framework.  The Group taking this work forward had held an initial meeting and are due to meet again later this month.  Alison confirmed this is a complex landscape and the Group are aiming to bring greater clarity to stakeholders understanding of the range of SCQF level 11 learning provision that is available. 

10. Issues already identified include the transfer of credits between university programmes and the 5 year rule on currency of credits.  While this currently affects only a small number of teachers, especially those undertaking the headship qualification, it will become more of an issue as engagement by the profession in SCQF level 11 learning increases. 

EU withdrawal and implications for teacher recruitment

11. Stephanie Walsh introduced this paper, which confirms that approximately 500 teachers from the EU are on the GTCS Register.  This excludes teachers from the Republic of Ireland, who are subject to a UK/Ireland agreement on free movement that pre-dates EU agreements.  Stephanie highlighted that all four UK Government Departments are asking the Home Office to add all categories of teacher to the Shortage Occupation List; and that  the Scottish Government is planning an Outwith Scotland recruitment campaign that will target Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the Republic of Ireland. 

12. Ken Muir informed the Board about the implications of a no deal Brexit on current arrangements for the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications; and the action the GTCS will take, if required, to confirm the identity, qualifications and character of future EU applicants wanting to teach in Scotland. 

13. Clare Hicks confirmed the Scottish Government is continuing to plan in all areas for EU withdrawal.

Funding to support increased opportunities for teachers to undertake professional learning at SCQF Level 11

14. David Roy introduced this paper, which confirms the Scottish Government supports SCQF level 11 learning opportunities for teachers through approximately £800,000 of grant funding each year.  Total investment to date is £5 million and this level of professional learning has been accessed by around 5,800 teachers.  Funding is managed by each University/Local Authority Teacher Education Partnerships (TEP) along with the Royal Conservatoire Scotland and City & Guilds who work in partnership with the EIS.

15. The Board discussed the criteria for releasing funds and agreed that a more consistent approach to the bidding process was needed.  It was also agreed that in response to a request from the Languages Implementation Group, the criteria should be expanded to incorporate languages, including Gaelic and Gaelic medium.     

16. There was a discussion on the issue of whether or not funding should come with an expectation that teachers complete the necessary assessment to gain SCQF credits.  The Board agreed this should be optional, given that flexibility was likely to attract more teachers to the offer; and that data should be gathered on completion rates of SCQF level 11 learning, both with and without credit. 

17. The relationship between the Regional Improvement Collaboratives (RICs) and the TEPs in managing the distribution of funding was discussed.  Andy Griffiths asked that the current arrangements continue, given the RICs were still evolving.  The Board agreed to support this approach.  

Work plan

18. Members were asked to consider if the Board’s Work Plan should cover other areas and projects.   

Any other business

Membership of SBTE

19. Clare Hicks asked if in view of the recommendations from the “Teaching in a Diverse Scotland:  Increasing & Retaining Minority Teachers in Scotland” report, the SBTE should have a BME organisation representative on the Board.  The Board were agreeable to this and suggested that the Working Group taking forward recommendations from the Report should be asked for suggestions on who to approach.

Headteachers charter

20. David Roy informed the Board that three documents on empowering school communities had recently been published by Education Scotland. These included a draft of the Headteachers Charter. Not all members were aware of these documents and it was agreed to circulate a link. 

International Summit on Teacher Professionalism (ISTP)

21. David Roy updated the Board on work to tackle bureaucracy.  He said that the key challenges found were a cluttered curriculum and workload burden on headteachers. Actions being taken include:

  • the Deputy First Minster reinforcing the message across the country that teachers should challenge approaches that cause unnecessary bureaucracy and workload
  • Education Scotland to continue to use their Inspection programme to review local authority actions
  • adjustments made to senior phase qualifications
  • publication by Education Scotland of a toolkit in October 2018

22. He added that Education Scotland is reporting that local authorities are developing improvement planning to streamline their approaches and that this is reducing unnecessary bureaucracy. 

23. It was agreed that while the lead in this area was the Curriculum Assessment Board and the SNCT, the SBTE had a strong interest in terms of the positive impact Professional Learning offers in this area.  Headteachers’ support package will also include developing skills in tackling bureaucracy. 

24. The Board agreed to:

  • keep a watching brief on this issue; and
  • ensure a consistent approach with other bodies e.g. CAB and SNCT in developing PL strategy

Agenda for next meeting

25. Items under consideration for the next meeting include:

  • report from the Panel on Career Pathways for Teachers
  • Enhanced Support Package for Headteachers
  • Professional Learning offer from Professional Associations 
  • Probationer Support in the Northern Alliance

Date of future meetings

26. The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 22 May at 10.00 am at Dundee City Council.

Action tracker

  1. Secretariat to continue to ensure, wherever possible, that meeting papers issue one week in advance of Board meetings (SB)
  2. Secretariat to publish minute of 11 December 2018 meeting on the Scottish Government website (SB)
  3. Secretariat to publish all Board papers for subsequent meetings on the Scottish Government website (SB)
  4. Scottish Government to establish a sub-group to take this forward. Secretariat to seek volunteers from SBTE membership in first instance  
  5. Susan Quinn to work with colleagues to develop a paper setting out the detail of professional learning offered through the Professional Associations for discussion at the next meeting of SBTE (SQ)
  6. Andy Griffiths to develop a paper setting out the range of support on offer through the Northern Alliance for new ITE graduates in the probationer year for discussion at the next meeting of SBTE (AG)
  7. Gillian Hamilton to ensure SBTE remain sighted on the Masters Framework for Teachers as it progresses (GH)
  8. Data to be collected on how many of those accessing SCQF 11 learning completed with and without the award of credit. Secretariat to add to Work Plan (SB)
  9. Ken Muir to circulate the Annual Professional Update Evaluation report to members (KM)
  10. Secretariat to add Early Phase Career of NQTs to Work Plan (SB)
  11. Secretariat to contact BME Working Group to seek nomination to Board (SB)
  12. Secretariat to circulate link to documents on empowering school communities to Board members. completed (SB)
  13. Secretariat to add Tackling Bureaucracy to Work Plan (SB)
SBTE Secretariat
May 2019
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