Strategic Board for Teacher Education minutes: June 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 1 June 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Sam Anson, Scottish Government (Chair)
  • Scott Brand, Scottish Government (Secretary)
  • Barbara Coupar, Scottish Catholic Education Service (SCES)
  • Barrie Sheppard, National Parents Forum Scotland (NPFS)
  • Duncan Lawrie, Early Career Phase Teacher
  • Jim Thewliss, School Leaders Scotland (SLS)
  • 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)
  • Sharon McLellan, Association of Heads and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS)
  • Simon Cameron, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Susan Quinn, Educational Institute for Scotland (EIS)
  • Tara Lillis, NASUWT
  • Stuart Robb, Scottish Government
  • Fearghal Kelly, Scottish Government
  • Keya Rakshith, Scottish Government
  • Aleksandra Jonca, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome and Introductions

Apologies were noted from David Smith, Dougie Atkinson and Khadija Mohammed.

Sam Anson introduced himself as the new Deputy Director of Workforce, Infrastructure and Digital Division.

Minutes of previous meeting

The minutes of the meeting of 15 June 2021 were agreed as an accurate record subject to a slight revision to the third bullet point on page 3 to better reflect strengthened governance through effective partnership arrangements with other groups. These will be published on the Scottish Government website, along with the supporting papers from that meeting.

Action point

Secretariat to publish minute of 15 June 2021 and associated supporting papers on the Scottish Government website.

Potential extension of remit

A paper was introduced to open discussion on how the Board can most add value, and what the appropriate scope and scale of its considerations should include. There are two particular issues - one regarding links with the wider school education workforce, and the other regarding a digitally enabled school system.

It was noted that Education Scotland are engaging with other groups that link into workforce support. Professional learning has extended beyond teachers with engagement with CLD, early learning and childcare practitioners. Connections and relationships are being built which support better understanding right across the system.

There was a general reluctance to expand the remit and the membership of the Board as it would likely dilute the central function/purpose of the Board and its ability to deliver. The Board should focus exclusively on supporting teachers, their standards and their professional identity. While links with other groups of staff are important the Board must look strategically at the teacher journey and how it should be supported.

There was discussion around how the Board helps maximise the use of the investment in digital technologies. It was noted that digital literacy is included in the revised teaching standards and that there did not appear to be a need for a digital competence framework. It was suggested that the Board approach this issue from a pedagogical perspective and identify high quality professional learning in this area and how teachers can access this.

There was a general consensus that the Board consolidate by focusing on the main issues and aim to deliver on them at a strategic level.

Action point

Secretariat to re-focus the remit to the main issues for teacher professional learning and bring this back to the next meeting.

Headteacher recruitment and retention

Fearghal Kelly introduced this paper. He made the following points:

  • the working group had held three reference group meetings with a mixture of heads, deputes and PTs in April/May and a further meeting for teachers and school leaders from minority ethnic backgrounds
  • the working group is in the process of updating its action plan based on the reference group feedback and acknowledge that there are some issues that are outwith the scope of the working group and the Board and may possibly lie with the Scottish Education Council
  • there was a clear message from the Working Group that this isn't just about supporting individuals, but a need to look at the system as a whole and what it is asking of head teachers
  • the topic of remuneration and job sizing had been raised and it was acknowledged that a job sizing review was underway through SNCT
  • professional learning opportunities before and beyond the headship programme including opportunities such as acting posts and shadowing opportunities was seen as highly desirable
  • regarding teachers from ethnic minority backgrounds, there is a need to accelerate the recruitment of a diverse headteacher workforce in order to inspire others into leadership roles

The Board discussed the paper and the following points were made:

  • Glasgow City Council have created a number of additional principal teacher posts. These are supernumerary to the whole system, and ring-fenced to those members of staff who have identified within Glasgow as being part of the black and minority ethnic groups to allow them to ascertain if being in a promoted post would be of interest to them
  • an external evaluation of Into Headship is taking place which will also consider programmes to meet needs in denominational schools and ASN. This evaluation will be brought to the Board
  • some of these proposed actions should be included in the National Improvement Framework to ensure impact

Action point

The Working Group will further develop actions in these areas and where they consider them outside their remit will pass to the Board or Scottish Education Council.

Student Placement System update

A paper was presented from the SPMG. The context of the paper is that the SPMG are responsible for matching students to placements for professional practice. Despite the disruption caused by the pandemic placements have been found for all ITE students during this period and agreement has been reached between LAs and universities that placement patterns will return to pre-pandemic arrangements. There is an increasing number of ITE students and probationers in the system over the last few years and this is forecast to increase further. This is at a time of increased pressures on schools where the focus is on education recovery.

Partners on SPMG consider that the system will come under increased pressure to find suitable matches for all ITE students. Although there are no significant issues at present the assumption is that the coming academic year and beyond will be a challenge. SPMG have developed some possible actions to tackle both the number and quality of placements.

These include:

  • funding to enable students to undertake placements in locations commonly underused across the country
  • the development of a five year plan to roll out compulsory training for mentors of ITE students
  • formal contractual arrangements between local authorities and universities
  • possible funding required to replace or upgrade the student placement IT system

The Board discussed the paper and the following points were made:

  • there are now more student and probationer teachers at a time when the system is focused on education recovery
  • need to review partnerships between local authorities and universities
  • compulsory training for mentors is not advisable at this time due to workload pressures and this would also be an additional barrier to teachers taking up mentor positions
  • there should be professional learning available for mentors and it should be accessible to all teaching staff. The Board should recommend to the Scottish Education Council investment in mentoring
  • there are financial implications for students in undertaking additional travel and a need to ensure that the support is there
  • there is a need for a further discussion on what schools are providing and what universities expect of schools

Action point

SG , ADES and SCDE to discuss further what can be done to address concerns of SPMG

Education reform update

Members were given an update on the developing education reform agenda. Ms Somerville gave an update to Parliament on 9 May, which was a response to the report by Professor Muir. Some of the main points were:

  • operating models will be developed for the new organisations by winter 2022 with a period of shadow operation for the new bodies before they become fully operational, with a view to new organisations becoming operational in 2024. In the case of the qualifications body it is expected that this will be following the completion of the 2024 exam diet. At these points, SQA and ES will cease to exist in their current forms
  • SG colleagues leading on this work have invited SQA and ES to join the Programme Board which will meet shortly. This will begin the process for designing work to shape the new bodies, which will conclude at the end of this calendar year. Related engagement plans and timelines will be produced in the coming weeks

Action point

A representative from education reform will be invited to the next Board meeting to discuss these issues.

Any other business

An update was given on the Teacher Induction Scheme. There are a number of probationers challenging their allocated local authority on either the grounds of childcare or the cost of living increases as being a barrier to travelling or moving beyond their second preference. Another significant issue is being experienced with the large number of probationers that want to go to the West of Scotland and the pressure this is putting on schools in that area.

Date of future meetings

It was agreed to resume quarterly meetings with a further two this calendar year. The scheduling of the meetings will aim to be a month prior to the Scottish Education Council meetings to allow issues to be feed into that forum. Members will also be able to attend in person or online. 

Action point

Secretariat to confirm dates of future meetings.

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