Strategic Board for Teacher Education minutes: February 2024

Minutes from the meeting of the Strategic Board for Teacher Education on 1 February 2024.

Attendees and apologies

  • Scott Brand, Scottish Government
  • Tim Wallace, Association of Heads and Deputes in Scotland (ADHS)
  • Archie Bell, Communinty Trade Union 
  • Stuart Bain, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Lesley Whelan, Education Scotland
  • David Burgess, Education Scotland
  • Anne Kennan, Educational Institute for Scotland (EIS)
  • Pauline Stephen, General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS)
  • Tara Lillis, NASUWT
  • Barrie Sheppard, National Parents Forum Scotland
  • Graham Hutton, School Leaders Scotland (SLS)
  • Barbara Coupar, Scottish Catholic Education Services (SCES)
  • Zoe Robertson, Scottish Council of Deans Education (SCDE)
  • Lorraine Davidson, Scottish Council of Independant Schools (SCIS)
  • Seamus Searson, Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association (SSTA)
  • Duncan Lawrie, Teacher
  • Khadija Mohammed, Universtiy of the West Scotland
  • Stuart Robb, Scottish Government
  • Zak Tuk, Scottish Government
  • Stephanie Walsh, Scottish Government
  • Aleksandra Jonca, Scottish Government 


  • Laurence Findlay, Aberdeenshire Council

Items and actions

Welcome and Introductions

Sam Anson made the following introductions:

  • Archie Bell, Community Trade Union replacing Dougie Atkinson
  • Stuart Bain, COSLA, replacing Simon Cameron

He added that Laurence Findlay had agreed to join the Board. Laurence is the Chair of the Headteacher Recruitment and Retention Working Group and will bring a link between groups and a perspective on teacher education and recruitment issues facing rural authorities.

Minutes of 15 November 2023

Members had the opportunity to comment on these minutes and comments from Pauline Stephen and Tara Lillis had been incorporated. Anne Keenan has also submitted comments and it was agreed that these should also be incorporated into the final version. Minutes and papers will be published on the SG website in due course.

Action point – Secretariat to publish minutes and papers from 15 November meeting.

Matters Arising

Seamus Searson asked for an update on the Centre for Teaching Excellence. Pauline Stephen said that an update had been given at the Curriculum Assessment Board. This was that a group is to be established to explore co-design of the Centre.

Action point – secretariat to bring updates to future meetings of the board.

Workstream 1 – Workforce Planning and Increasing Diversity of the Profession

The Secretariat updated the board on progress with this workstream. The following points were made:

  • An initial meeting had been held between SG and COSLA with a follow-up meeting between SG, COSLA and representatives from the ADES Personnel Network

  • The intention is to source local data to allow a ‘bottom-up’ approach to workforce planning that will identify geographical and subject need

  • ADES have in previous years conducted a workforce planning survey and this will be discussed further at their Personnel Network meeting on 8th March  to determine how this could be built upon to deliver meaningful data.

Board members made the following points:

  • There are strong links with the Anti-Racism Education Programme work on Black and Minority Ethnic data collection and it was agreed that protected characteristics in the broadest sense should be considered

  • Data collection should be more nuanced than simply numbers and consider types of teachers needed as this links to career pathways for teachers

  • Scottish Government hold data from local authorities on offers for probationers that will be useful to the analysis

  • ITE intake data will show shortages and this can be used as a baseline to track need

  • Khadija Mohammed is on an Irish Government Advisory Group that is overseeing a research project that is tracking a sample of teachers and she can report back on any connections to workstream 1

  • Consideration should be given to a research report that allows the board to better understand recruitment challenges at each stage from pre-application, ITE entry, induction and employment beyond induction. The Welsh Government are undertaking a similar project

  • Agreed to seek ways to collect data which would have a broader usage – collect once use many times.

Workstream 2 – Improving the Promotion of Teaching as a Valued Career

Stephanie Walsh updated the Board on progress with this workstream. She made the following points:

  • Initial scoping work had included discussions with colleagues in both the Welsh and Irish Governments, the ADES Personnel Network and the Marketing Officer from the University of Edinburgh

  • Scottish Government marketing colleagues are also considering what they can contribute although they have limited resource

  • Colleagues in the Department for Education are considering apprenticeship models to boost recruitment

  • A Short-Life Working Group is to be established to consider the workstream and the development of a positive narrative around the role of teaching.

Board members made the following points:

  • Both Graham Hutton and Khadija Mohammed offered to join the Working Group

  • EIS reiterated that the challenges of pupil behaviour, teacher wellbeing, workload and precarity of contracts must be addressed

  • Any new route into teaching that lowers standards is likely to make the profession less attractive as had been evidenced in other nations who had adopted this approach

  • Focus should be on promotion rather than marketing, although marketing will be a strand of that approach

  • There is a need to be open to innovative ideas, while noting the legal requirements for what it means to be a teacher in Scotland, and more academically qualified teachers are not always the most effective

  • Data should be systematically gathered on why people join and leave the profession. Data on reasons for leaving are collected by the some of the Unions. NASUWT and EIS have around 10 years of data which points towards violence and aggression and workload as major reasons for leaving the profession

  • There is also data on why BME teachers leave the profession

  • Data on what support makes teachers stay would also be useful

  • Permanency of contracts a significant issue

  • Link with workstream 1 and need to ensure connectivity between these workstream moving forward.

Sam Anson asked that a collective approach to a narrative continue to be explored that seeks agreement on the positives.

Action point – SG to find out the latest situation with the proposed teacher survey to understand issues impacting the profession and supporting them in their role.

Workstream 3 – Continuum of Teacher Education

Zoe Robertson introduced a paper which outlined a Continuum of Teacher Education Framework which aims to provide principles, expectations and structures across the phases of teacher development. She made the following points:

  • Need to recruit, retain and regenerate the profession with a structured approach

  • Both Scottish and International research underpins the framework

  • Framework will identify gaps and under-developed parts of the system and recognise teachers career progression beyond the classroom and the opportunity for further qualifications

  • Early career identified as needing more structure and resource

  • Need to develop pathway of expertise for teachers that also allows for additional registration

  •  Potential for considering the links to the proposed Centre for Teaching Excellence.

Lesley Whelan outlined some of the developing principles central to the Framework:

  • Recognise the different phases of a career and support needed

  • Different models of teacher education will be appropriate for different contexts

  • Individual teacher learning is the focus and other enabling conditions such as school improvement need to be considered

  • Clarity needed for teachers on the roles of the various organisations providing professional learning.

Pauline Stephen added that:

  • This was a starter paper and needed to be developed collegiately
  • Paper links to Teaching Scotland’s Future and Career Pathways reports that have not been fully implemented

  • The diagram aims to map out what systems and support are in place and where initial gaps have been identified

  • An in-person workshop with independent facilitation had been arranged for 4 March to further develop the framework to which board members are invited.

Board members offered the following comments:

  • Post-probation transition is difficult for early career teachers who are expected to identify and access their own professional learning. Need to ensure learning is proactive and not reactive, especially for leadership roles

  • Need for an empowered approach with time for professional learning rather top-down

  • Framework should be developmental and not a competency standard

  • Teachers’ careers are not always linear and need to avoid disadvantaging those on supply or taking career breaks

  • Equality of access for all teachers with protected characteristics and intersecting identities needs to guide the framework and be visible

  • Need for collaborative approach from organisations

  • Reviews of areas such as Initial Teacher Education and Teacher Induction Scheme can follow the implementation of the Framework to ensure consistency across the system.

Pauline Stephen summarised that this stage will identify purpose and what is needed with the delivery elements likely to be more challenging.

Education Workforce Modelling and Research

The Secretariat updated the board on this research project. The Scottish Government commissioned WPI Economics to model the potential impact of demographic change on pupil numbers in Scotland over the next decade and the implications for the education workforce.  The following points were made:

  • The overall pupil roll is now declining. The primary roll peaked in 2017 and the secondary roll is expected to peak in 2025 and then decline

  • The report models scenarios for pupil to teacher ratios and class contact time (CCT) against these projections

  • There are direct links with Workstream 1 which is considering workforce planning and SNCT who are discussing changes to CCT.

Action point – Share the published Education Workforce Modelling and Research report with the board and arrange for this to be discussed at a future meeting.

Any other business

Pauline Stephen informed the board that Professor Gert Biesta, Professor of Public Education in the Centre for Public Education, University of Edinburgh, delivered the GTC Scotland annual lecture. This focused on ‘Taking the angle of the teacher’ and the strong tendency in contemporary education to argue that everything should be about learners and their learning. His keynote will shortly be available on the GTC Scotland website. 

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