Strategic Board for Teacher Education minutes: October 2016

Minutes of the meeting of the Strategic Board for Teacher Education, held on 26 October 2016.

Attendees and apologies


  • Clare Hicks - Scottish Government (Chair)
  • Alan Armstrong - Education Scotland
  • Kathy Cameron - COSLA
  • Margaret Lannon - SCIS
  • Ken Muir - GTCS
  • Susan Quinn - EIS
  • Morag Redford - SCDE
  • Barrie Sheppard - NPFS
  • Lesley Whelan - SCEL
  • Michael Wood - ADES
  • David Roy - Scottish Government
  • Scott Brand - Scottish Government
  • Chloe Duxbury - Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

1. Clare Hicks welcomed everyone to the fourth meeting of the Strategic Board for Teacher Education. Apologies were received from Barbara Coupar, Jim Thewliss, Christine Stephen, Seamus Searson, Tim Wallace and Stuart Robb. Lesley Whelan was substituting for Gillian Hamilton and Chloe Duxbury was attending for the item on the Governance Review.

Previous minutes and matters arising

2. The minutes of the meeting of 22 June were agreed as circulated. Action 01/02 about BME representation in the teaching profession had not been progressed due to other pressures but SG gave a commitment to progress this. Action 02/01 related to the fees for Into Headship cohort 1 participants. The SG had not received any further representations on this matter but would make a final attempt to contact the local authorities that had not yet responded to the request for information.

3. Clare Hicks informed the group that the Workforce Planning Group would meet on 27 October to consider 2017 intake targets and review progress with previous targets. For 2016, 89% of secondary targets had been filled and there was over recruitment to primary. It was noted that recruitment to STEM courses had improved but Gaelic recruitment for primary had been disappointing. The Working Group would use local intelligence when setting 2017 targets. Actions 03/01 and 03/02 had been completed.

4. Action 03/03 was about the TSF Evaluation report proposals. A sub-group had been established and had met in early October. They would report to the Board as a matter of course. Action 03/04 about visits to university/local authority partnerships would happen as part of the ITE content analysis being carried out as part of the NIF.

Action - Scottish Government to take forward actions 01/02 (BME) and 02/01 (Into Headship Cohort 1).

Update on MyPL

4. Ken Muir updated the Board on this project. The year-long Pilot had now commenced with five local authorities, two independent schools and a Further Education College using MyPL to record professional learning. By using the MyGTCS environment teachers should have some familiarity with the product. Further work was needed to see how MyPL could link with commercial systems that are in use.

International Summit on the Teaching Profession

5. Clare Hicks informed the Board that the Summit would take place between 29 and 31 March 2017. This was a unique event in that it was Governments and teaching unions that attended. Participants were invited from the top 25 performing countries as defined by PISA. Pre-summit events were being planned that include school visits to showcase Scottish education. The Summit title and themes were being developed by an organising committee.

Governance Review

6. Chloe Duxbury explained that the Governance Review consultation had begun on 13 September and would run until early January. This included 9 regional events during November and December that were open to all stakeholders. Specific conversations were also planned to capture the views of children and young people. The consultation had five key themes and these were:-

  • empowering teachers, practitioners, parents, schools and communities
  • strengthening ‘the middle’ - how teachers, practitioners, schools and other local and regional partners work together to deliver education
  • a clear national framework and building professional capacity in education
  • fair funding – learner centred funding
  • accountability

7. It was felt by some Board members that the timetable for the consultation was too short especially with school holidays falling within this period. Clare Hicks explained that consultations normally lasted 12 weeks but in this case had been extended to 16 weeks because of the holiday periods.

8. Some Board members raised concerns regarding the accessibility and purpose of the consultation document. Clarity was received regarding the scope of the Review which does include early years. It was also noted that a number of other Government consultations were happening at the same time. Clare Hicks said that the consultation document was posing open questions regarding the governance of Scottish education. However, more detail would be published early in the New Year and stakeholders would be able to comment on this. It was further highlighted that the Scottish Government would be meeting with both COSLA and SOLACE to discuss the Review.

New Routes to Teaching

9. Morag Redford introduced this item explaining that these proposals looked to re-shape existing programme structures to help address recruitment issues by bringing a wider group of people into teaching and working with other partners. These were small scale innovations that would attract around 200 student teachers.

10. The proposals were focused on ensuring quality but introducing flexibility. They covered combined PGDE and induction year, home economics programme delivered through Perth College, concurrent degrees for secondary specialism, primary specialism including a P6 – S3 mathematics teacher, local authority Learn to Teach programmes and a national returners to teaching programme.

11. The Board discussed the challenging timetable for introducing new routes particularly where alterations to student placement and probation arrangements would be required. David Roy said that this represented a pragmatic group of proposals and the Ministers’ views on them would now be sought. He said that the target date for introducing these were the 2017/18 intake. The student numbers involved would be additional to normal ITE intakes since they look to attract those not traditionally interested in a career in teaching.

12. Ken Muir assured the Board GTCS would look for the same level of quality including the balance between theory and practice but would be flexible over timescales. A July start of PGDE programmes would have students 8 weeks ahead of traditional programmes. It was suggested that this may present some issues for placement arrangements and affect local agreements. Another issue to consider was additional costs if probationers were to start with local authorities in the summer. Further discussion was needed with local authorities, universities and unions.

13. The Board agreed that the proposals were a positive approach by universities to address teacher recruitment issues. One particular advantage of the proposals was that in many cases they built on existing provision rather than introducing a series of completely new initiatives into the Scottish education. Evaluation of new routes would be undertaken including analysis of completion rates. Related to this the Government would be tendering for proposals to meet the SNP Manifesto commitment to bring the brightest and best graduates into teaching.

Action – Scottish Government to circulate the detail of the proposals to the Board and will ensure this subject is on the agenda for the next meeting of the Board.

Student placements

14. Clare Hicks said that there had been high profile media interest recently on student placements.

15. Ken Muir informed the Board that the Student Placement System (SPS) was a National System supported by both management and a user group which oversee its work. The GTCS operate the system which organises around 18,000 placements each year. SPS requires good quality data e.g. student addresses and transport links and has to work within certain parameters such as exclusivity (placing students only within partnership schools before offering placements more widely) and over-burdening (not placing all students into a single school at once before others have the opportunity to receive students). Denominational status and being a Gaelic learner are also factored into placements.

16. Ken Muir added that matches were sometimes impossible due to a lack of placements being offered. The number of schools unwilling to take placements has been increasing with headteachers giving reasons such as staff illness. Also some local authorities have agreed that schools take no more than 50% of the placements they can offer to avoid over-burdening. In addition some universities have reduced the travel time students should be expected to make. Placements to nursery and in mandarin and psychology were proving particularly difficult to identify.

17. The GTCS had suggested that nationally schools should be expected to take students and need to apply to out-out. They also want to review over-burdening limits set by local authorities and introduce joint university/local authority training on how the system operates. The GTCS would also consider student placement patterns when accrediting ITE programmes and see if the SPS server can be improved to run faster.

18. Michael Wood confirmed that ADES would support moving to the expectation that schools take students although in some exceptional circumstances this would not be possible. Susan Quinn said that there was a professional and contractual responsibility for teachers to support students and that LNCT agreements need updated. Margaret Lannon said that independent schools were willing to help identify placements for students studying mandarin. David Roy added that the Principles of Partnership for local authorities/universities were being revised and there was an opportunity to strengthen expectations around this matter.

19. Clare Hicks said that SG recognised that the issues had been localised to the University of Strathclyde and the system had worked well elsewhere. However, it was important to agree solutions to these issues nationally and reflected in LNCT agreements. It was confirmed that the Scottish Government also supported the expectation that schools would take students unless agreed with other parties.

Into Headship update

20. Lesley Whelan introduced this item explaining that the masters leadership pathway continued to be developed. The “In Headship” programme would become available in early 2017 while middle leadership programmes provided by university/local authority partnerships were being accredited by SCEL. Recruitment for “Into Headship” cohort 3 would begin in February/March 2017. Evaluation of cohort 1 was continuing and this cohort would start to complete in March 2017. There were also plans for a programme for teachers with the Standard for Headship who had never taken up a headteacher post.

21. “Into Headship” was intended for those considered to be 2-3 years away from headship and had the ability to access opportunities in the programme. 7 universities were providing this programme. The main issue so far was the sector split with the first cohort participants being almost evenly split between the primary and secondary sectors. This was also the original position with cohort 2 until the Scottish Government offered funding for an additional 19 primary sector participants which were added to cohort 2. The offer to local authorities for cohort 3 would make clear the need for an appropriate split between sectors. The Government was committed to providing approximately £500,000 annually for this programme. Related to this David Roy confirmed that regulations making the holding of the Standard for Headship mandatory from August 2019 would be consulted on towards the end of 2016 and that they contained provision for temporary appointments.

22. Finally it was confirmed that the Scottish Government had established a Headteacher Recruitment Working Group. Some of the issues being considered included career structure and if this was giving enough development opportunities to teachers and recruitment to small primary schools. Clare Hicks commented said that “Into Headship” provides development support to teachers but will not address the broader career pathway issues. Clare Hicks added that local authority workforce planning will need to be more prominent in the recruitment to “Into Headship” cohort 3.


23. No other business was raised.

Date of next meeting

24. Wednesday 18 January 2017, 2.00 pm, Conference Rooms 4 & 5, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh.

Summary of Actions

Action Deadline Owner
01/02 • SG to engage with BEMIS and teachers’ representatives to consider the issue of under-representation of the BME ethnic community in the teaching profession. • SG to consider with STEC the number of students applying to enter ITE courses. • As part of this work the Scottish Government will work with STEC to investigate drop-out rates in ITE for underrepresented groups. 22/08/16 Scottish Government
02/01 Scottish Government to consider whether teachers in cohort 1 of the Into Headship programme should have their costs reimbursed. 20/1/2017 Scottish Government
04/03 Circulate the Scottish Council of Deans of Education proposals on new routes to teaching to Board members. 7/11/2016 Scottish Government


Strategic Board for Teacher Education (SBTE)
c/o Scottish Government
Learning Directorate
Victoria Quay

Tel: 0131 244 4000 or 0300 244 4000 (for local rate throughout UK and for mobile)

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