Strategic Board for Teacher Education minutes: November 2023

Minutes of the 15 November 2023 meeting.

Attendees and apologies

  • Sam Anson, Scottish Government (Chair)
  • Scott Brand, Scottish Government (Secretary)
  • Michael Wood, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)
  • Tim Wallace, Association of Heads and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS)
  • Simon Cameron, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Lesley Whelan, Education Scotland 
  • Andrew Creamer, Education Scotland 
  • Anne Keenan, Educational Institute for Scotland (EIS)
  • Pauline Stephen, General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS)
  • Tara Lillis, NASUWT
  • Andrew Sharkey, School Leaders Scotland (SLS)
  • Barbara Coupar, Scottish Catholic Education Service (SCES)
  • Zoe Robertson, Scottish Council of Deans of Education (SCDE)
  • Lorraine Davidson, Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS)
  • Seamus Searson, Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA)
  • Duncan Lawrie, Teacher
  • Khadija Mohammed, University of the West of Scotland
  • Stuart Robb, Scottish Government (SG)
  • Zak Tuck, Scottish Government
  • Stephanie Walsh, Scottish Government
  • Keya Raksith, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Sam Anson made the following introductions:

  • Lorraine Davidson new Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS) representative
  • Lesley Whelan and Andy Creamer substituting for David Burgess (ES)
  • Anne Keenan substituting for Susan Quinn (EIS)
  • Andrew Sharkey substituting for Grahem Hutton (SLS)
  • Tim Wallace representing AHDS
  • Carrie McLennan (Head of School, Dundee University) attending as part of her induction as new co-chair of the Teacher Workforce Planning Advisory Group
  • Sean Stronach and Cheryl Paris from Education Reform team attending for the item on the Centre for Teaching Excellence

Overview of the new approach/agreed workstreams

Sam Anson said that the work of the board had now reached the action and delivery stage and it was important that workstream leads outlined what they were planning to do and the milestones for this.

He added that he would further discuss the leading of workstream 1 “Workforce Planning and Increasing Diversity of the Profession” with COSLA. Simon Cameron said that COSLA were currently considering wider education workforce issues such as recruitment and retention and have identified a former local authority officer to take this work forward. It would be beneficial for that person to also be involved in workstream 1. It was agreed to provide a joint SG/COSLA update at the next meeting and ensure that the Education Workforce Modelling exercise linked into this.

Action point–SG/COSLA to discuss and plan workstream 1

SBTE workplan – workstream 2 – progress report

Stephanie Walsh updated the board on workstream 2 “Improving the promotion of teaching as a valued career”. It had been noted that the teacher unions had given a view that issues such as pupil behaviour and teacher wellbeing, workload and precarity of contracts needed to be resolved before this workstream can be moved forward, otherwise there would be a disconnect between promotional materials and the reality in practice. The intention is to collectively develop a set of key messages that stakeholders can use to promote teaching as a valued career and consider how we can collectively amplify those messages. Board members were asked for views on effective ways to disseminate key messages and that they can opt-in to assist developing this work.

Board members made the following points:

  • the Teach in Scotland website was identified as a major channel through which key messages could be communicated and the website was currently being updated by the SG to ensure it is up-to-date and the language used reflects teaching as a valued career
  • GTCS are planning a public consultation about entry requirements to programmes of ITE in 2024. The framing of the entry requirements will provide an opportunity to value trusted teaching
  • support, such as coaching, is available for some teachers and this needs to be coherently mapped out for the profession
  • UN consultation on How to End the Teacher Shortage highlighted recruitment and retention as a global issue and recommendations from the UN High Level Panel on the Teaching Profession are expected soon
  • limitations to what marketing campaigns can achieve. Consideration should be given on how to move from initial messaging to address the structure of the workforce, for example, longer term career support for teachers and the structure of teams within schools, including international examples
  • Edinburgh University has a marketing officer that can assist with this workstream
  • the workstreams should not be addressed in isolation and it is important to maintain and acknowledge their interconnected nature
  • agreed there needed to be a shift in culture to trust teachers alongside the recommendations arising from the findings of the UN report

Sam Anson summarised by noting that the concerns of teaching unions had been noted and that short-term work can be done to promote teaching as a valued and valuable career while longer term work is also considered on career structures and support for teachers.

Action points:

  • all members to consider opportunities to promote key messages around teaching as a valued career
  • SG to contact Edinburgh University regarding working with their marketing officer on workstream 2

SBTE workplan – workstream 3 – progress report

Pauline Stephen, Zoe Roberston and Lesley Whelan updated the board on workstream 3 “Continuum of teacher education”. It is co-led by Education Scotland, GTCS and SCDE. The two main strands of this workstream are the development of framework/continuum of the career-long teacher education journey and then a consideration of what this specifically means for ITE, induction and early career. The leads intend to bring an outline draft structure of a continuum to the next meeting along with principles to guide this to discuss how best to further develop this in partnership.

Board members made the following points:

  • there is a need to address career pathways and the drop off in BAME teachers at the start of the continuum as well as embedding throughout
  • need to build on Teaching Scotland’s Future, Career Pathways and MQuITE reports (acknowledging gaps in these) to identify gaps within current structures
  • consideration should be given to teachers taking career breaks and how they go on to re-engage with the profession
  • the experiences of BAME teachers are known about but do not feature in the main reports on teacher education in Scotland. Therefore, they need to be considered within this workstream
  • GTCS are in the early stages of gathering qualitative equality and diversity data from early career teachers which will, in time, inform considerations.
  • it was agreed the interface between this board and AREP would need to be coherent
  • it was agreed the work needed to be intersectional and data shared

Action point:

  • Sam Anson to discuss with AREP officials the synergy between the board’s work and their own

Centre for Teaching Excellence

Sean Stronach outlined the background to the Centre for Teaching Excellence. It represents a key element of the approach to education reform. The aim is to look within Scotland and internationally to distil research and to make this accessible and impactful to teachers. The aim is to co-design the centre with teachers and stakeholders, maintaining a sense of openness to understand ideas and how these will work within the system. The next steps to achieving this vision are to pull together the resources needed to drive forward this work with a focus on how this might work in practice.

The board were asked for ideas on the engagement process and the following points were noted:

  • the need for further clarity on the role and function of the proposed centre was raised and how it fits with proposed wider reform
  • need for the centre to offer more than access to resources. It needs to have teacher development at its core or only a minority of teachers will engage with it. It has to be about criticality of practice and ethical decision making within individual teacher contexts rather than prescribing best practice
  • the centre cannot offer a polarised view on teaching that does not recognise teacher judgement within individual contexts
  • the centre needs to support the teacher continuum framework and add value to an already cluttered landscape. It was noted it needed underpinning with a spine of teacher development
  • teacher empowerment is needed rather than a top-down approach from Government so the centre needs to listen to the teacher voice. The governance arrangements need to be reflective of this
  • if the centre is to have an impact, then teachers need to have the time and space to engage in professional learning as well as for personal reflection thereafter. This should be seen in the context of workload reduction and curriculum review
  • the current proposed name may suggest a deficit model which can be demotivating for teachers and could be perceived as lacking in understanding of the complexity of teaching. Also a need to avoid a narrow focus on attainment
  • a roundtable could be useful to involve other organisations as well as those in SBTE in order to put this work in a systemic context. There is also a need to consider the centre in the wider context of different partners, including local authorities, and how the centre relates to them.

Sean Stronach said that in summary the centre needs to be framed alongside the new agencies and established organisations. There is potential for it to be hosted at a university but this will require further consultation. There is a need to ensure synergy between Education Reform and SBTE workstreams.

Action point-SG to ensure strong links between SBTE and Education Reform.

Any other business

The future funding of Regional Improvement Collaboratives was raised. It was noted that funding will continue for 2024-2025 before a transition is introduced following a discussion with COSLA. Board members recognised the link to work of the SBTE on the continuum of teacher education.

Pauline Stephen agreed to be the link person between SEC and SBTE.

Date of future meetings

Sam Anson said that the format of the meeting, including updates from workstreams, had been effective and that this will continue for future meetings. The next meeting will be arranged for January 2024.

Action tracker (meeting 26)

Action 1/update/lead

  • SG/COSLA to discuss and plan workstream 1
  • update to be given at 1 February meeting
  • SA/SC

Action 2/update/lead

  • all members to consider opportunities to promote key messages
  • to be considered within update on workstream 2
  • all

Action 3/update/lead

  • Scottish Government to contact Edinburgh University regarding working with their marketing officer
  • to be considered within update on workstream 2
  • SW

Action 4/update/lead

  • Sam Anson to discuss with AREP officials the synergy between the board’s work and their own.
  • SG Education Workforce and Diversity colleagues liaising and will aim to ensure each group is aware of developments such as Diversity Data Report. Also a link to workstream 1 which will be further explored.
  • SA

Action 5/update/lead

  • SG to ensure strong links between SBTE and Education Reform
  • SG colleagues linking with Reform agenda and will up-date board as necessary
  • SB

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