Strategic Board for Teacher Education minutes: March 2023

Minutes for the meeting held on 29 March 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Sam Anson, Scottish Government (Chair)
  • Scott Brand, (Secretary)
  • Michael Wood, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)
  • Sharon McLellan, Association of Heads and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS)
  • Simon Cameron, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Duncan Lawrie, Early Career Phase Teacher
  • David Burgess, Education Scotland
  • Susan Quinn, Educational Institute for Scotland (EIS)
  • Pauline Stephen, General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS)
  • Tara Lillis, NASUWT
  • Jim Thewliss, School Leaders Scotland (SLS)
  • Barbara Coupar,Scottish Catholic Education Service (SCES)
  • Margery McMahon, Scottish Council of Deans of Education
  • Stuart Hunter, Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA)
  • Lorele Mackie, Co-chair Student Placement Management Group
  • Catherine Whitley, SPMG
  • Chris French, Education Scotland
  • Stuart Robb, Scottish Government
  • Zak Tuck, Scottish Government
  • Stephanie Walsh, Scottish Government
  • Keya Raksith, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Apologies were noted from Khadija Mohammed, Barrie Sheppard, Dougie Atkinson, and Seamus Searson (Stuart Hunter substituting).

Sam Anson made the following introductions:

  • Lorele Mackie and Catherine Whitley from the Student Placement Management Group for item 6
  • Chris French, Education Scotland for item 7
  • Zak Tuck the new Policy Manager within the Education Workforce Unit

Minutes of the Previous minutes (22 November 2022)

The minutes of the meeting of 22 November were cleared without further comment following revisions received from members prior to the meeting.

Action point

Secretariat to publish the minutes and supporting papers of the 22 November meeting on the Scottish Government website.

Scottish Education Council update

Sam Anson said that the Board continued to strengthen the link between themselves and the Scottish Education Council. The issue of diversity of representation on the Council is to be raised at its next meeting. 

Action point

Pauline Stephen to raise questions on diversity of representation on SEC.

Remit and workplan

Sam Anson said that the Remit had been commented on by members and was now fit for purpose. An issue was raised whether Executive/Shared Headships was within the SBTE remit and it was clarified that it was noted as an issue the Board should be aware of. It was agreed to revisit the Remit periodically and certainly within a year.

Sam Anson stated that the workplan would undergo further development including bi-laterals with some Board members to allow further input. The aim would be to move this onto a project management basis and ensure it reflects where the Board will add value and avoid micro-managing other organisations programmes of work. 

Action point

Secretariat to develop workplan with members input.

Recruitment challenges in initial teacher education

Sam Anson said that the purpose of this item was to develop the outline of a paper to be presented at the Scottish Education Council meeting on 27 April. His initial thoughts were that the paper needed to show the ambition for the system, the current challenges and gaps while identifying actions for both the SBTE and SEC.

 Zak Tuck introduced the paper and made the following points:

  • a downward trend in Secondary ITE – the 2022 intake was down to 61% against target
  • STEM subjects and Modern Languages are both down on previous years
  • a reduction in intakes to Gaelic
  • the intake of BAME entrants has risen from 2.7 to 4.5%
  • ongoing challenges around the recruitment of catholic schoolteachers

The following points were made:

  • the role of teacher is under greater scrutiny
  • teacher mobility is limited due to transport and housing issues in rural locations
  • support for all probationers, manageable workloads and permanent contracts for teachers can be part of the solution
  • UCAS deadlines and choices need to be looked at
  • entry requirements should be as flexible as possible
  • more flexible local ITE programmes including increasing part-time provision need to be considered
  • local workforce planning needs to link into national planning

  Sam Anson made the following points in summary:

  • valuing the profession needs to be part of solution
  • about retention as well as recruitment
  • situation not unique to Scotland
  • system wide actions need to be identified
  • Jim Thewliss and Pauline Stephen to present at SEC

Action points

Secretariat to circulate draft of paper to members for comment. 

Proposed revisions to the Teacher Induction Scheme 

Stephanie Walsh introduced this item which was for members to note at this stage. She made the following points:

  • there is usually around a 12% decrease in numbers from those applying to those starting on TIS which can be attributed to deferrals and non-completion of programme
  • numbers for the 2022 cohort were down in 2021 and probably due to deferrals from the pandemic joining the 2021 cohort
  • the recommendations from the ADES sub-group are around greater sharing of information between local authority of each other’s bids to ensure a more strategic approach especially in areas not attracting many probationers
  • further consideration to be given to how to encourage probationers to be more mobile

Concern was raised as to why the preference waiver payment for primary probationers is £2,000 less than that of the secondary payment given cost of living issues and whether this raised equal opportunity issues. It was explained that the differential is not illegal as it can be objectively justified that secondary is where the need is. However, it was agreed to revisit this issue.

Another issue raised was for a part-time option to be introduced. The current situation raised potential equalities issues and could hinder probationers’ ability to get posts in the future.

It was stated that the issues being raised cannot be addressed by minor modifications. As TIS is 20 years old it requires a fundamental review.

Action points

Secretariat to consider inclusion of this work in the SBTE Workplan.

Action plan

Scottish Government to revisit PWP payment differences between sectors.

Student Placement System

Pauline Stephen introduced this paper. She made the following points:

  • the GTCS as current operator of the Student Placement System (SPS) had issued an end-of-life statement for June 2024 due to technical support being withdrawn due to the age of the system
  • GTCS had intimated withdrawal as SPS hosts from June 2024
  • two main options should be considered moving forward, these are the development of a bespoke system or purchase of an off the shelf system
  • there is a need for an SBTE operational sub-group to agree solutions and budgets

The following points were made:

  • there is a high risk to the system in this project not least the timescale involved
  • a national system is essential as otherwise process is unmanageable
  • system needs to be designed around pedagogical structure of programmes
  • a host organisation needs to be identified for the new system
  • governance issues need to be clarified urgently
  • matching for the 2024/25 academic year placements will begin in April 202
  • there is a need to protect the experience of the student as this links directly to drop out rates
  • IT and Finance expertise is needed in any project group taking this work forward

The Board agreed that the Student Placement Management Group should add the relevant expertise to their sub-group as they aim to develop practical options. They should also act as contractor in the absence of other suitable organisations, although they will need to check their legal status.

Action Point: SPMG subgroup will take forward this project and report on a regular basis to SBTE.

Excellence in Headship and Excellence in Headship stretch  

This item was not taken due to time constraints, and it was agreed that members send any comments on the paper to Chris French at Education Scotland ( An agenda item on ‘Headteacher Feedback’ would be presented at a future meeting.

Any other business 

The issue of subject specific professional learning was raised. It was agreed to discuss this further outwith the meeting to identify the issues.

Action point: Secretariat to discuss issue further with Tara Lillis.
The next meeting of SBTE will be Wednesday 31 May at 10am.

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