Strategic Board for Teacher Education minutes: June 2021

Minutes for the Strategic Board for Teacher Education June 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Liza McLean Scottish Government (Chair)
  • Scott Brand Scottish Government (Secretary)
  • Barbara Coupar Scottish Catholic Education Service (SCES)
  • Barrie Sheppard National Parents Forum Scotland
  • Gillian Hamilton Education Scotland
  • Jim Thewliss School Leaders Scotland (SLS)
  • Khadija Mohammed University of the West of Scotland (UWS)
  • Lesley Whelan Education Scotland
  • Margaret Lannon Scottish Council for Independent Schools (SCIS)
  • Michael Wood Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)
  • Pauline Stephen General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS)
  • Seamus Searson Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA)
  • Simon Cameron Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Susan Quinn Educational Institute for Scotland
  • Stuart Robb Scottish Government
  • David Roy Scottish Government
  • Stephanie Walsh Scottish Government
  • Shirley Anderson Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Apologies were noted from David Smith, Dougie Atkinson, Duncan Lawrie, Kirsty Elder and Sharon McLellan.

Liza McLean introduced herself and the new interim Deputy Director of Workforce, Infrastructure and Reform Division. She said the postponement of the 24 March meeting was to allow for a consideration of the priorities of the new Government.

Minute of previous meeting

The minutes of the meeting of 9 November were agreed as an accurate record. These will be published on the Scottish Government website, along with the supporting papers from that meeting.

Action point: Secretariat to publish minute of 9 November and associated supporting papers on the Scottish Government website.

Headteacher recruitment

David Roy introduced this paper. He outlined the background to reaching this point with this work. Following the Headteacher Recruitment Working Group report in November 2018 the recommendations had been progressed, however, concerns on progress had been highlighted to the SBTE in September 2020. It was agreed by SBTE to reconvene the Working Group and since then there are been two meetings of the full Working Group and four smaller sessions.

This work had developed the following suggested areas for action: 

  • attractiveness of the role
  • support through coaching and mentoring
  • tackling workload including lack of admin staff
  • recruiting more BME teachers into this role
  • developing a career pathway for aspirant HTs
  • more flexibility in delivering the Into Headship programme
  • sharing data on the needs of the system
  • job sizing

He said that the issues were particularly acute for denominational, Gaelic, rural and special schools. He added that numbers undertaking Into Headship were high but tracking of graduates was needed to see how many applied for HT posts and how many were successful.

Board members offered views on the paper including:

  • workload needs addressed
  • need structured support package
  • job sizing an issue for SNCT
  • need to incentivise Into Headship graduates to apply for posts in other authorities
  • school empowerment can drive this agenda
  • important to monitor gender and ethnicity data
  • more equity needed as Into Headship functioning better in some areas

The Board discussed how to give structure to this work going forward. It was suggested that core principles need to be established together with identified tasks and completion dates. The remit needed to be action focused and harness innovation. Also the role and function of the group taking this forward should include agreement on appropriate powers.

The discussion also considered the chairing of any group and having a HT was suggested. Some members felt that the practitioner voice would be better represented through their associations. Another alternative was an independent Chair that could bring a new voice to help progress. The need to ensure different authority/school based voices that have had success at addressing these issues was raised. 

The engagement with practitioners was seen as vital in progressing these issues. A sounding board approach was mentioned and the Headteacher Support Group that links to CERG was seen as an option as it had wide geographical spread and both HT and employer representation. There was also 2,860 teachers with the Standard for Headship on the Register and their views could also be gathered.

The Board agreed to the formation of a new HT Recruitment Working Group but that further thought needs to be given as to how this is established

Action: David Roy to consider these views when formulating the approach to taking forward the actions outlined.

Proposed review of the board’s remit and priorities

Liza McLean introduced this paper. She said its aim was to stimulate discussion on what the Board wants to achieve and how we better align with the priorities of the new Government.

The Board asked for clarity of the new governance structures in education. There is a need to know where SBTE sits and if the Scottish Education Council will resume and take over the remit of CERG. Currently Workstream six and HT support are reporting to CERG. More clarity is also needed on where final decisions are made.

Some members felt that there was a definite need for SBTE to continue to ensure important issues such as attractiveness of the profession, recruitment and diversity are given appropriate priority. There is also a need to ensure SBTE inputs into the reviews of Education Scotland and SQA. It was said that establishing sub-groups would not be more effective and could possibly lead to less coherence in areas such as diversity if they sub-divided across the teacher journey. There also needs to be recognition that detail needs discussed and avoid a presumption of knowledge on subjects. 

There was recognition that the Board needs to:

  • consider its role and priorities in the light of those of the new administration and recent reports (including Audit Scotland, OECD etc.) on education in Scotland.
  • be more transparent and has to communicate better with the profession
  • strengthen governance with effective partnership arrangements with other groups
  • be more agile and consider if an increased frequency of meetings is required
  • focus on fewer more strategic subjects
  • consider commissioning work in specific areas

Some suggested priorities for the Board included:

  • longitudinal research on the impact of the pandemic on teachers
  • better defining teacher empowerment and agency
  • ensuring the diversity agenda is embedded in teacher recruitment and retention
  • direction of travel of PL post pandemic

Liza Mclean summed up that:

  • members wanted the Board to continue
  • there is a need to map out connections and interdependencies with the wider system, including to align with plans for the wider education governance landscape as they become clearer
  • the board needs more focus with core principles, specific guidance and direction linked to the Government’s priorities
  • the board needs the ability to look across the education system
  • the board needs to avoid operational tasks such as the work plan and keep focus on looking forward

Action point – SBTE Secretariat to take these views into consideration when revising the Board’s remit, arrangements and agenda for the next meeting 

Teacher induction scheme

Stephanie Walsh updated the Board on the Teacher Induction Scheme in respect of the 2021 to 2022 cohort. 

  • 3,618 probationers entering TIS in 2021 to 2022 with 1,928 primary and 1,690 secondary.
  • Over 200 vacancies unfilled at 3 May although this has now reduced
  • need to consider if the student choice arrangements are still fit for purpose
  • at the beginning of school session 2021 to 2022, there will be a group of ITE students (approx. 400) who are unable to move into their probationary year on the Teacher Induction Scheme as planned, due to the impact of COVID-19 on their school placement availability
  • it has been agreed that an extension of eight weeks to their ITE programme will be offered. ITE students are eligible to receive a payment of £800 for the extension period. 

Overall the main issue seemed to be the increased number of probationers asking for a west coast authority. This is putting a strain on these authorities and also reducing the number of probationers available to other authorities. It was suggested that a proposal on probationer choice was brought to a future meeting of the Board.

Action: Stephanie Walsh to bring forward a proposal on probationer choice to a future meeting.

The issue of local authorities not being able to support the current cohort of TIS probationers who need a 60 day extension was raised. It was noted that education recovery funding given to local authorities for the employment of additional teachers could be used to address this.

Student placement system update

Barbara Coupar asked about the Student Placement Update report. She said that at action point five ‘Placements in denominational schools’ she did not think that the system was allocating students undertaking the Catholic Teacher’s Certificate to denominational schools. It was agreed to investigate this further with the SPMG.

Action point: Scott Brand to seek clarity from the SPMG.

Date of future meetings

It was agreed to hold the next meeting in early August before the start of the new school term. 

Action point: Secretariat to confirm date of next meeting.

Next meeting will take place on Wednesday 1 June 2022. 


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