Strategic Board for Teachers Education minutes: May 2023

Minutes from the Strategic Board for Teachers Education minutes on 31 May 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Sam Anson, Scottish Government (Chair)
  • Scott Brand, Scottish Government (Secretary)
  • Michael Wood, Association of Directrs of Education in Scotland (ADES)
  • Sharon McLellan, Association of Heads and Deputes in Scotland (ADHS)
  • Simon Cameron, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • David Burgess, Education Scotland
  • Susan Quinn, Educational Insititute for Scotland (EIS)
  • Pauline Stephen, General Teachnig 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 
  • Seamus Searson, Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA)
  • Duncan Lawrie, Teacher
  • Stuart Robb, Scottish Government
  • Zak Tuck, Scottish Government
  • Stephanie Walsh, Scottish Government
  • Lucy Rudkin, Scottish Government 

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Apologies were noted from Khadija Mohammed.

Minutes of the previous minutes (29 March 2023)

The minutes of the meeting of 29 March 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 23 March meeting on the Scottish Government website. 

Action points from 29 March meeting

The chair said that most actions were completed or would be taken elsewhere on the agenda. He did update on the issue of increasing the Preference Waiver payment (PWP) for primary probationers on the teacher induction scheme and informed the board that the Scottish Government had considered the preference waiver payment payments but were not currently in a position to make any revisions.

Student Placement System

Michael Wood updated the board on the work of the Student Placement Management Group (SPMG) sub-group regarding the replacement of the Student Placement System (SPS). He made the following points:

  • Work was needed to ensure a suitable replacement system was developed and it was thought that a new system could only be developed for the 2025 to 2026 academic year with an interim solution for 2024 to 2025

  • there was a risk to the education system if a replacement system could not be introduced for 2025 to 2026

  • the use of public sector procurement frameworks is to be explored to identify individuals and companies with the relevant experience to deliver this project

  • the sub-group’s estimate of total costs was in the region of £250k to £300k, and there was some urgency around identifying currently available funds to start the procurement process

  • a legal entity for the project would need identified to ensure proper use of public funds

The chair said that management of this project sat with the Student Placement Management Group and he wanted to avoid the board causing confusion by making any decisions. Members made the following points:

  • The communications around the project need to be carefully handled especially in terms of when schools are being made aware

  • there is a risk to future recruitment of Itiail Teacher Education (ITE) students if there is any doubt about programmes being able to offer the necessary placements

  • there is a risk that a fragmented system develops that is difficult to bring back under a national umbrella

  • schools may find it challenging to engage with interim local systems due to the potential work involved

  • Scottish Government local authority digital office may be able to provide some expertise and support

Action point: Simon Cameron to approach Student Placement Management Group and raise the issue of engaging with the Local Authority Digital Office.

Scottish Education Council update including recruitment challenges in Initial Teacher Education

Jim Thewliss gave an update to the board from the meeting of the Scottish Education Council (SEC) on 27 April. He said that SEC acknowledged that the system is reliant on a constant refreshment of teachers for it to function. He added that the priorities highlighted in the Strategic Board for Teacher Education (SBTE) paper on recruitment challenges (Increased Resource Demand Analysis, Reducing Barriers to Becoming a Teacher, Increased Support for Early Career Teachers and Improving the Promotion of Teaching as a Valued Career) was well received, there was reassurance they were the correct areas to tackle and linked in with other issues that SEC was considering. He was positive that SEC could help resolve many of these issues but added that SEC was to be reviewed on its purpose over the next few months.

Board members made the following comments:

  • The SBTE paper highlights a negative perception of the job by current teachers and it was considered that this was more than perception and that the root causes of this needed addressed

  • Clear link to other groups tackling pupil behaviour and equalities

  • Clarity needed on stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities if we are to take tangible next steps

  • The barriers to individuals with protected characteristics such as race, religion or disability entering or staying in the teaching profession are understood and need to be urgently addressed

Action Points: secretariat to work with members on identifying next steps on taking forward actions suggested in the SEC paper.

Becoming a teacher in Scotland

Pauline Stephen introduced this paper and said it summarised information gathered through GTC Scotland’s work and had been informed by the recent findings in the Measuring Quality in Initial Teacher Education (MQuITE) research report. The paper covers the following themes:

  • Sharing quality assurance in ITE

  • Identification and support of school-based teacher educators

  • Identification and support of HEI based teacher educators

  • Mentoring standards and experiences

  • The impact of the Teacher Induction Scheme and ongoing ability to meet requirements and expectations

  • The place of teacher education post ITE

  • Re-evaluating HEI and LA partnerships and beyond

Board members made the following comments:

  • The time and resource needed to be an effective school-based educator have to be considered

  • The role of lead teacher could be explored in the context of school-based educator to ensure it is given a proper foundation

  • Competencies could be developed for the role of a higher education teacher educator; some systems have professional standards in place for these roles

  • Consistent approach needed for mentoring

  • Teacher Induction Scheme equality issues need addressed

  • Need to ensure that these proposals fit with wider Scottish Government vision for education

  • A symposium with a range of stakeholders would be useful to synthesise actions

  • Budget implications limit what can be delivered nationally with more prominence given to local offerings and delivery

The Chair agreed that the Scottish Government should meet with the GTCS to discuss these proposed actions further, while recognising the role and responsibilities of various stakeholders in these areas and that not one organisation has overall control.

Action point:  Sam Anson to meet with Pauline Stephen to discuss the proposed actions regarding improving the experiences of students, probationers and newly registered teachers.

 SBTE workplan development

Zak Tuck introduced this paper and said that several bi-laterals with members had been held to inform the development of the workplan. He made the following points:

  • Members had asked for a more strategic approach by the board that considered fewer issues but, in more depth, and identified the collaborative power that the Board could bring to moving issues forward

  • More clarity was needed on how the board feeds into other governance groups and what groups should feed into the Board

  • The workplan is based on the areas in the recruitment challenges paper (increased resource demand analysis, reducing barriers to becoming a teacher, increased support for early career teachers and improving the promotion of teaching as a valued career) ana also covers professional learning choices for teachers and the impact of education reform on this landscape.

  • The workplan aims to be action focused and needs a collaborative approach to fill in the gaps.

 Board members made the following points:

  • The format of meetings should be reviewed to consider more in-person and longer meetings so that key issues can be discussed in more detail

  • There is a need to define the deliverables, timelines and resources

  • Workstreams are interconnected and in some cases exceptionally large. Prioritisation may be required

  • Workplan needs to use more direct and active language

  • Need to clarify boards decision making powers

 Action points:

Members to submit written comments on the Workplan to the Secretariat by Thursday 22 June.

Secretariat to consider next steps in developing the workplan and consider holding further bi-laterals with members to refine and prioritise workstreams and actions.


The chair thanked Jim Thewliss for his contribution to the board over the many years he had served on it as he was now standing down from the board given his imminent retirement.

Read the meeting papers

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