Teacher Panel meeting minutes and papers: March 2022

Minutes and papers from the Teacher Panel meeting on 16 March 2022

Items and actions


  • welcome and agreement of minute from the last meeting 10:00 to 10:10
  • Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC): Update 10:10 to 10:55
  • education reform (including next steps on ‘qualifications and assessment’ review) 10:55 to 11:40
  • class contact time reduction: Update 11.40 to 11.55
  • AOB and close 11:55 to 12:00



Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills (Cab Sec), welcomed Teacher Panel members to the meeting and apologies were given on behalf of those unable to attend.

The minutes from the Teacher Panel meeting held on 15 December 2021 were approved.

Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC) – update

The Cab Sec introduced the first agenda item and the accompanying paper was summarised by the Head of the Scottish Government’s SAC Policy Unit.

Attendees were provided with an update on the mission to refresh the SAC and where things now stand with regard to the framework for recovery, accelerating progress and the logic model/theory of change. The panel was advised of the intention to use existing processes for improvement planning but giving these more energy and edge by challenging local authorities (LAs) to come up with their own set of ‘stretch aims’ on an annual basis, making clear what they are keen to do in terms of recovery and accelerating progress towards closing the poverty-related attainment gap. Utilising existing processes would avoid introducing a new layer of bureaucracy which the system does not need at present.

A number of points were raised by panel members:

  • there was some concern around the suggestion that LAs lead on the creation of stretch aims for all their schools and that this would be contrary to head teacher empowerment. Panel members suggested that head teachers are best placed to know what is best for their own schools and what needs to be done to close the attainment gap
  • the move towards a more modernised approach was broadly welcomed, as was the proposal to extend the reporting cycle beyond one year

Panel members were reassured by an Education Scotland official that work is ongoing around empowerment and that the Excellence in Headship Stretch group is feeding into the working group. There is broad acceptance that empowerment is something that we need to return to and that groups such as Stretch are particularly useful in that regard.

Graeme Logan (GL), Director of Learning, outlined the work being undertaken to implement the Scottish Government’s commitment to strengthen empowerment and devolve more power to head teachers. With regard to PEF, he confirmed that head teachers will remain the decision makers but with scope for them to group together and/or work with LAs to pool resources if they fully agree to do so for specific purposes. Good examples of such collaboration have already been seen. GL also highlighted that LAs cannot set stretch aims without engaging at school level. He went on to confirm that Scottish Government (SG) will want to work with teachers on this and that there will be engagement to ensure a bottom-up process.

GL stated that the challenge for SG is to make both the framework and PEF guidance explicit as to what it is supposed to be about. Through attainment advisers and other networks SG works closely with LAs to ensure they do not dictate stretch aims. He confirmed that feedback from the Teacher Panel meeting would be taken on board to ensure crystal clear wording and guidance, and that this intended wording would then be shared with the panel for comment.

The Cab Sec stated that how progress is made is key to ensuring success, and that SG will work to ensure there are no unintended consequences from the framework, no room for misinterpretation by LAs and that the approach is not top-down. She asked panel members for their thoughts on how SG can ensure that head teachers are confident enough that they are empowered to make decisions.

Comments from Teacher Panel members included:

  • a request for some form of local control of stretch targets, and concern about the potential consequences of focusing on one area in order to meet a target, rather than taking a whole school approach
  • concerns regarding increased staff absences which are making things difficult, and the need to recognise the challenges schools have been facing. Some schools have set their stretch aims for this academic year but are already struggling due to a lack of support staff
  • to ensure a bottom-up model true collaborative working and professionalism must be explored, with people coming together and thinking creatively to achieve things, embracing what collaboration truly is
  • throughout the pandemic, lots of things in education have proved to be antiquated. These old fashioned models could be taken away in order to free-up capacity. Furthermore if progress is to made in attainment the first thing to do is make sure that we are getting it right for those pupils with additional support needs. If we can start exploring how we can get it right for them we can get it right for all learners

Education reform

The Cab Sec introduced the second agenda item, briefly summarising Prof Ken Muir’s recent reporting back to SG and her own update to parliament. She stated the intention that the review of Curriculum for Excellence will lead to a more simplified and consistent education system that puts learners at the centre and ensures teachers feel much more supported. Cab Sec also referred to the work soon to be undertaken by Prof Louise Hayward around qualifications and assessments.

It was confirmed that Prof Hayward’s work is at an early planning stage and that she is particularly keen to speak to learners and teachers, especially the Teacher Panel members themselves. The professor is therefore keen to hear the members’ thoughts on the best mechanisms for engaging with as many teachers as possible. She is keen to pursue a model in which all schools are given the opportunity to feed in their views, leading to an almost consultation-like response.

A number of comments were made by panel members:

  • this is seen as an exciting and brilliant opportunity for the whole of education to become involved and some members welcomed the idea of all schools being made to contribute their views through teacher groups to ensure a consensus of opinion within each school. The same process could be followed for pupils. Such an approach would get people talking and ensure that responses would not just be from the ‘usual’ groups
  • concerns were expressed regarding those head teachers who do not empower their staff, not allowing them the time or encouragement to engage with the national agenda. There are some teacher and pupil bodies who feel as though they have not had a voice and therefore feel disengaged and disempowered
  • some members suggested that events be held through Regional Improvement Collaboratives (RICs) or Education Scotland (EdS), or that schools partner with others, allowing everyone to be involved. It was also suggested that an inset day could be put aside to allow for discussions at department level within schools

Clare Hicks (CH), Director for Education Reform, noted the panel members’ passion and excitement. She confirmed that she was interested to hear panel members’ views on the recommendation re. the national conversation/discussion on the purpose and vision of Scottish education, which is critical and related to the purpose and role of qualifications and assessment – there is a need to think carefully about how we plan and structure both pieces of work. CH was interested to hear the panel’s views in how we engender the same level of enthusiasm re. the purpose of education without overcomplicating it or over-consulting and thereby confusing the message.

Panel members’ comments included:

  • there are some groups who may find it difficult to get away from an exam-based system – the current belief is that exam passes are needed in order to be successful. Parents and young people in particular are quite wedded to the idea of exams. Changing that attitude might be difficult but that does not mean that we should not go for it. It is about fundamentally looking, as a nation, at why we are educating our children and what it is we are doing. It will therefore be important to ask the right questions
  • this conversation is critical. Where we are at now, practitioners know that assessment drives planning. Our high stakes exam system drives the curriculum, learning and teaching right into primary schools

Cab Sec outlined the need to have a genuine conversation about where we want to see our education system in 10 years’ time. As such we need to get the questions right, so drafts of these will be shared. She also outlined another important aspect of the Ken Muir report that relates to ensuring teachers receive the support they require from the agency taking on the current Education Scotland remit as well as additional leadership functions around CfE. Cab Sec asked the panel how we can ensure that the successor builds on the work undertaken by Education Scotland’s so far, and how we can create an empowering system that responds to teachers.

One panel member described the excellent support that their faculty has received from an EdS Senior Education Officer over recent years – that support would provide the embryo for a good model.

GL highlighted an aspect of Prof Muir’s report that suggests the EdS replacement agency should produce actual learning and teaching materials as opposed to just guidance and exemplars of good practice. This would be quite a fundamental shift.

A number of comments were made by panel members:

  • engagement with EdS Literacy and Numeracy leads within the RIC has been valuable. Prospects for short-term engagement for teachers with the new EdS agency would provide valuable career progression opportunities
  • RICS work was overly strategic and therefore failed to deliver anywhere near what we had hoped. There was therefore support for the idea of the new body producing learning and teaching materials. However it was pointed out that when progressing this kind of work it would be vital to consider things from the pupils’ perspective
  • engagement between the new body and classroom teachers would be a good idea. Already there are many teachers collaborating on various pieces of work, with some good material being produced and shared. Excellent work is going on but it is sometimes hard to find
  • the idea of the new body producing learning materials was welcomed by another panel member who went on to highlight the pressure on teachers who have minimal time for preparation and planning. They pointed out however that any material should be adaptable, given the individual needs of pupils

The Cab Sec confirmed that one of the key aspects she wants to ensure that we get right is that around the cultures of organisations and the education system – this is one of the areas she is keen to get right from the outset. The important role of culture within education and our national agencies is key to this, making sure the system is more learner-centric and teachers feel they have a greater role in it. She asked the panel how we can be sure to create something supportive and collaborative. How can we help with the culture that we need to have within education and our national agencies?

One panel member commented that culture is one of the key elements of any school and any system, and that it is one of the most challenging to change. They said that we currently have an embedded and engrained culture within Scottish education and changing that would not be easy. A lot is tied up with contact time so teachers might not have the time or opportunities for collaboration.

Class contact time reduction update

The third and final agenda item was introduced by GL. He outlined the flagship commitment, stating that it is 20 years since the last significant change under the McCrone Agreement. It provides us with an opportunity to look at the role of the teacher in the round and can help to create additional capacity for teachers to plan lessons and to engage in other activities too. There are planning challenges to look at e.g. ensuring that the right teachers are in the right place. GL asked the panel for their thoughts on how we can make the most of this opportunity professionally.

Panel members were asked for their views particularly on whether the reduction should be introduced at primary level before secondary, or all at once. A number of comments were made:

  • the panel was broadly welcoming of the reduction but on the proviso that it is not accompanied by an increase in class sizes as this would negate any potential benefits that may arise
  • a time-lag in terms of timetabling would be beneficial as teachers would require approximately 12 months’ notice
  • there was a call for the Cab Sec to release an official statement on the issue, as this would counteract unhelpful articles that have already appeared in the media
  • more rural communities that are reliant on public transport links need to consider how they will introduce the reduction in class contact time in a way that works for them
  • it was pointed out that while most pupils will cope well with different teachers in their classroom, there are some who may find it difficult. It would therefore be beneficial for teachers to have the opportunity to explore that with other head teachers in order to discuss how learners can be supported


The Cab Sec thanked the panel for the useful discussion which had raised points that were already being considered by her and officials. She asked panel members to raise any other issues under AOB.

On behalf of colleagues one panel member raised the issue of how challenging their school is finding things at present. This is due to daily teacher absences of between 10-20%, and similar absence levels for Pupil Support Assistants. The panel member also pointed out that a number of other schools within their LA are having to hold classes in assembly halls as there are not enough teachers to cover classes.

Cab Sec empathised with the panel member, stating that although the world looks to be getting back to some sort of normality, the Covid situation in education is as acute now as it has ever been. She confirmed that the issue described is replicated across the country and officials are therefore continuing to monitor the situation to see what support can be given.

Cab Sec thanked the panel members for their participation and confirmed that the next meeting of the Teacher Panel will take place in June.

Paper one - Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC)


This paper is intended to provide the Teacher Panel with an update on the refreshed Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC), with a focus on the SAC Framework for Recovery and Accelerating Progress and the draft updated SAC Logic Model (theory of change).


The Cabinet Secretary announced the refreshed SAC programme to Parliament on 23 November. Since then work has been ongoing to prepare for its launch from April 2022. In summary, this next phase has four key elements:

1) Refreshed mission: 

"To improve outcomes for children and young people impacted by poverty, with a focus on tackling the poverty-related attainment gap."

This broader mission recognises the breadth of experiences and achievements that will, alongside improved attainment in literacy, numeracy and national qualifications, support young people in leaving school to enter and sustain positive destinations. It also continues to recognise the vital role of improved health and wellbeing for children and young people affected by poverty; and reads across to the national mission to tackle child poverty.

2) Simplified resource distribution:

Supported by the £1 billion Attainment Scotland Fund to support education recovery and tackle the poverty-related attainment gap, with £200 million to be distributed in each of the remaining four years of the Parliamentary term. This sees an increased Pupil Equity Funding (PEF) and the continuation of Care Experienced Children and Young People (CECYP) funding. Further, recognising the impact of the pandemic and poverty across the whole country, distributing over £43 million in Strategic Equity Funding (SEF) to all 32 local authorities, rather than just nine Challenge Authorities. The increased investment in Pupil Equity Funding is supported by stopping the Schools’ Programme (£7m distributed to 73 schools across 12 local authorities). A key development in the distribution of this resource is the certainty of multi-year funding allocations for Pupil Equity Funding and Strategic Equity Funding offers to school and local authority leaders, enabling them to make long-term strategic plans for the use of their Attainment Scotland Funding.

3) Enhanced support:

This suite of support in the form guidance materials, resources, support, challenge and professional learning will be available to the system from 30 March. It includes:

  • revised guidance including the agreed Framework and arrangements for implementation
  • Refreshed Logic Model (theory of change)
  • Education Scotland Publication: 'Reflections on current practice around the use of the Pupil Equity Fund'
  • Education Scotland National Equity Toolkit (proto-type on 30 March, full launch in summer)
  • strengthened SAC Digital Footprint – ES website/NIH
  • Education Scotland professional learning sessions and video resources
  • Education Scotland sharing practice case studies
  • Education Scotland-led national networking events
  • refreshed ASF evaluation strategy (to be developed from April)

Education Scotland Senior Regional Advisors and Attainment Advisors, as well as wider teams, continue to support and challenge local authorities and schools to develop and implement effective approaches to tackling the poverty-related attainment gap.

4) A Framework for Recovery and Accelerating Progress: 

The Framework for Recovery and Accelerating Progress (the Framework), underpinned by a suite of guidance for the three core funding streams, is a key development produced to support progress across the system in addressing some of the central recommendations of the Scottish Government and Education Scotland five year report on progress towards closing the poverty-related attainment gap, the Equity Audit, the Audit Scotland report on educational outcomes, and the OECD review. In particular it seeks to address the pace of improvement and to reduce unwarranted variation in progress and performance between and within local authorities.

To do this it will set out clear requirements in terms of planning, monitoring, reporting and roles and responsibilities for progress in relation to the Challenge.

The framework for recovery and accelerating progress – points for discussion

The Framework for Recovery and Accelerating Progress is being finalised over the coming two weeks. Annex A includes an overview and summary of this in more detail. 

It is important to emphasise the following principles which are embedded in the framework: 

No additional bureaucracy: schools will continue to plan through building upon their school improvement plans and processes, to tackle the poverty-related attainment gap and to use PEF to provide additional activities or resources to contribute to those plans.

Empowerment: head teachers must have access to their school’s allocation of Pupil Equity Funding and be empowered to identify and undertake evidence-based approaches to suit their local contexts.

The Teacher Panel is invited to share views on:

  • the introduction of local stretch aims (to be set by local authorities) and impact on schools
  • the balance of using existing improvement processes whilst ensuring sufficient support and challenge to realise the overall mission

Logic model

Amongst the resources set out as the enhanced support to the education system is an updated logic model. A full review of the Logic Model is being taken forward by Scottish Government researchers on a collaborative basis through a series of workshops and consultations with internal and external stakeholders.

A logic model is a diagrammatic planning tool that shows how a programme produces change – they can help bring detail to programme goals, help in planning, evaluation, implementation and communication. They cannot contain detail about everything that happens but summarise the aspects that are critically important in explaining how the programme produces the changes that it is aiming to achieve. They identify the resources required, the main activities that need to happen and the intended outcomes in the short, medium and long-term.

The key aims of the review are to produce a new SAC Programme Logic Model to be published on the launch date of 30 March 2022, and a process to build consensus and awareness of the new programme/Logic Model amongst key stakeholders. Publishing and promotion of the final Logic Model will aid the development of stretch aims, assist when reviewing progress at a local and national level and raise awareness of programme aims.

To date, four workshop sessions have been held, one on 3 February for internal stakeholders with representatives from the SAC Policy Unit, Education Scotland and Education Analytical Services and a workshop for SAC Leads from local authorities as part of a Local Authority Engagement Day on 9 February. A second workshop was undertaken with both groups of stakeholders in the week commencing 21 February.

Work to date with stakeholders has shown an enthusiasm for using logic models as an important tool in communicating programme aims and aiding local planning. Stakeholders are keen to see a logic model which is visually appealing, and able to capture the complexity of the programme in a way that is easily understood at all levels in the system and for all actors in it. Analysts will consider the final design of the model with the potential to do further work post the launch, particularly with children and young people, to ensure the model communicates the programme aims to all.

The SAC Programme Logic Model has been developed as a ‘nested logic model’ where the different layers of the programme are represented in sub-models. This has been developed in recognition of the complexity of the programme and a desire to represent the activities and contributions of different stakeholders in the model. This approach was welcomed by stakeholders in the workshops.

Logic model – points for discussion

The Teacher Panel is invited to share views on:

  • how the nested logic model can be used at all levels of the Scottish education system – we are keen that the logic model can support planning and monitoring at the national level and for local authorities and schools. What might this look like and how can this work be supported?

Annex A

Scottish Attainment Challenge framework for recovery and accelerating progress – overview and summary


The first 5 years of the Scottish Attainment Challenge saw real progress in closing the poverty-related attainment gap but at a limited pace. The pandemic disrupted the learning of our children and young people and had a disproportionate effect on children affected by poverty. The refreshed Scottish Attainment Challenge programme, backed by a commitment of £1 billion from Scottish Government, aims to address these challenges and ensure that equity lies at the heart of the education experience for all.

The Framework for Recovery and Accelerating Progress has been developed to support the next phase of the Scottish Attainment Challenge. It aims to:

  • reinforce our collective commitment to equity, to mitigate the impact of poverty on children’s outcomes and tackle the poverty-related attainment gap
  • set high expectations, including local stretch aims, to ensure significant progress is made in recovering from the impact of the pandemic and in achieving the mission. There has been sizable investment over many years and this provides an opportunity to make a real difference for children and young people
  • use existing improvement processes, as far as possible, in order to minimise additional bureaucracy. Some specific new guidance will ensure there is greater consistency on how processes are used across the country and enable a more accurate national picture
  • ensure a clear and common focus on real progress on outcomes for our children and young people, initially using existing measures of attainment and achievement while recognising that additional measures reflecting wider poverty-related issues will need to be developed and agreed as soon as possible
  • build on the continued commitment to empowerment for local decision making, while ensuring strategic direction, support and challenge for progress in tackling the poverty-related attainment gap is provided by local authorities and national agencies so that together the best possible outcomes for our children are achieved



  • the mission of the Scottish Attainment Challenge: To improve outcomes for children and young people impacted by poverty, with a focus on tackling the poverty-related attainment gap
  • support education recovery, increase pace of progress and reduce variation in progress



  • using existing mechanisms, include plans for Pupil Equity Funding (PEF) in School Improvement Plans, include clear aims for progress in tackling the poverty-related attainment gap
  • collaborate with children and young people, families, local authorities and other partners meaningfully when planning and throughout the process
  • head teachers to continue to have access to the school’s allocated Pupil Equity Funding and be empowered to identify and undertake evidence-based approaches to suit their local contexts
  • head teachers should endeavour to work in partnership with each other, their local authority and community partners, such as youth work, to develop approaches to utilising the funding
  • the operation of Pupil Equity Funding should align with the strategic local stretch aims for tackling the poverty-related attainment gap – essentially freedom within a framework. This will require collaboration with local authorities

Local authorities:

  • using existing mechanisms, include stretch aims for overall outcomes and attainment and progress in tackling the poverty-related attainment gap in local authority education service improvement plans (or equivalent)
  • stretch aims should be measurable by NIF key attainment measures. They should focus on the specific aims which local evidence and data suggest are the priority areas for improving readiness to learn or learning experiences of children and young people impacted by poverty in the local authority
  • at a minimum, these should include stretch aims for both overall progress and for reducing the poverty-related attainment gap in:
    • achievement of Curriculum for Excellence Levels (literacy combined and numeracy combined)
    • the proportion of school leavers attaining one or more passes at SCQF level 6 based on the “Summary Statistics for Attainment and Initial Leaver Destinations” publication, and
    • the proportion of 16-19 olds participating in education, employment or training based on the Annual Participation Measure produced by Skills Development Scotland
  • stretch aims should be informed by and inform school plans for progress
  • planning should read across and into other services’ plans and identify opportunities to collaborate with other services and partners
  • stretch aims to be agreed with Education Scotland
  • one-page financial plan for Strategic Equity Funding (SEF)

Monitoring and reporting


  • using existing reporting mechanisms to their Parent Council and Forum
  • reporting on the impact of PEF included in Standards and Quality Reports
  • ongoing local monitoring of progress and engagement with children and young people, families required, with support and challenge from local authority, peers and Education Scotland, and appropriate adjustments made locally to ensure progress in tackling the poverty-related attainment gap

Local authorities:

  • using existing reporting mechanisms
  • reporting on progress against local stretch aims to be done through Standards and Quality Reports (or local equivalents)
  • ongoing monitoring of progress required, with support and challenge from Education Scotland; and collaboration with peers (for e.g. through Regional Improvement Collaboratives), and appropriate adjustments made locally to ensure progress in tackling the poverty-related attainment gap


  • Scottish Attainment Challenge joint Scottish Government and Education Scotland programme progress discussions quarterly, informed by national data and Attainment Advisor tri-annual reporting

Roles and responsibilities

  • reflect existing statutory duties and those articulated in the 2018 Joint Agreement
  • expectation of collaboration, transparency, support and challenge as part of mature system coalesced around shared mission of the Scottish Attainment Challenge

Paper two - education reform


This short paper is intended to assist the Teacher Panel with its discussion in relation to education reform, including next steps on the ‘qualifications and assessment’ review.

Current context

On 22 June 2021 the Scottish Government responded to the publication of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report, 'Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence: Into the Future', setting out specific actions in response to its recommendations. This included our commitments to move the role of inspection out of Education Scotland, to replace the SQA, and consider the implications of a new specialist agency responsible for both curriculum and assessment.

Professor Ken Muir was appointed on 2 August to consider the reform of Scotland’s national education bodies, including replacing SQA, removing inspection from Education Scotland (ES) and any wider reforms to ES.

Following extensive consultation, including undertaking a public consultation resulting in 764 responses and extensive engagement including 87 meetings and events, Professor Muir reported 21 recommendations and a set of principles to the Cabinet Secretary for Education, 'Putting Learners at the Centre: Towards a Future Vision for Scottish Education', in February.

On 9 March, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills set out to Parliament the Scottish Government’s broad acceptance of these recommendations, acknowledging these as a starting point for our next steps with educational reform, and making clear that we will ensure these are further developed with stakeholders as appropriate, specifically announcing:

  • three new national education bodies with refocussed functions, creating a more cohesive, simplified and consistent education system that will support the continued delivery of excellence and equity for Scotland’s learners
  • a clear set of values and principles and performance measures that underpin the governance and operations of our new organisations, reflecting the change in culture we need to see embedded across our education system
  • a revised system that will put learners at the centre, support our teachers and practitioners and instil integrity, fairness and accountability throughout our national education bodies

The Scottish Government response, 'Putting learners at the centre: response to the independent advisor on education reform's report' provides next steps on the delivery of the work Scottish Government will be leading in collaboration with partners, including beginning immediate work on establishing a change programme to create the three new national bodies; leading a national discussion on the vision for the future of Scottish education, and taking final decisions on elements requiring further consideration, engagement and development in the coming months.

Qualifications and assessment

On 27 October 2021 the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills announced to Parliament that, based on Professor Stobart’s paper and the experience of delivering qualifications through the pandemic, there was a compelling case for the reform of the Scottish approach to qualifications. The statement, and accompanying published implementation framework, announced that Professor Louise Hayward had agreed to lead a reference group to provide recommendations to ministers about how qualifications and assessment may be reformed. The Cabinet Secretary has also stated that externally assessed examinations will remain part of the new system.

The remit for this work is currently being drafted, and a version of this is attached at Annex A.

Professor Hayward will shortly begin to appoint the members of her group before work commences in the spring, and will deliver recommendations before the end of the year.

Points for discussion

The Teacher Panel is invited to discuss the following:

  • the Cabinet Secretary has set out her expectation that teachers will feel that this is their agency and that it responds to their needs and, therefore, to the needs of learners. How do we ensure that is the case?
  • how can we embed governance structures that support the change in culture that we need to see embedded across our education system, one that puts the learner at the centre, that provides excellent support for teachers and practitioners, and has clear accountability at all levels?
  • we would welcome any comments on the draft remit for Professor Hayward’s review of assessment and qualifications

Annex A

Draft remit for the Qualifications and Assessment Independent Review Group


This document sets out the remit for the Qualifications and Assessment Independent Review Group (“the Group”), which will be chaired by Professor Louise Hayward, Professor of Educational Assessment and Innovation at the University of Glasgow (the Chair). 

The Group will draw on both expertise that exists in the Curriculum and Assessment Board (CAB), which is part of the governance structure of Scottish education, but also include other relevant stakeholders. 


The Chair will provide a report to the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills and Scottish Government advising on the reconfiguration of the approach to qualifications and assessment in the senior phase (S4-6 in school and ages 16-18 outside school). This will take as its starting point the OECD paper produced by Professor Stobart, published on 31 August 2021, which sets out areas for Scotland to now consider, the numerous consultation responses received as part of Professor Muir’s work which relate to assessment and qualifications specifically, and early engagement by Professor Hayward with members of the Scottish Youth Parliament. Drawing on all of this, overarching principles for qualifications and assessment will be co-designed, consulted on through the Review group, and will form the starting point for the first part of the review. Once agreed the principles will inform all the work undertaken by the Group from that point forward. 

The Chair will focus on recommending to the Cabinet Secretary a set of design principles with recommendations for future qualifications, which can be used as the basis for the SQA, or its successor body, to design and implement any subsequent reform of qualifications as per its statutory responsibilities. The scope of this work will include all school and college qualifications accessible in the senior phase, not solely national qualifications.

The Chair will establish a Group, in consultation with the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, whose background and expertise will help ensure that full consideration is given to all aspects of the Chair’s remit. The Group will draw on expertise within the CAB, but also include other relevant stakeholders.

The conclusions that the Chair reaches will be made independently of the Scottish Government and all other institutions.


It will be of critical importance that the membership of this group ensures that all interested groups will have direct input to the review. Membership of the Qualifications and Assessment Review Group will include:

  • those most directly concerned – students and parents
  • those immediately responsible for delivering courses leading to qualifications – teachers, lecturers, school/college leaders and training providers
  • those who use these qualifications as young people transition from school – higher education, further education, employers
  • those responsible for providing such qualifications: SQA (or its successor organisation), other regulatory bodies
  • those responsible for local policy in relation to qualifications e.g. local authorities
  • researchers in fields essential to the work of the group e.g. curriculum, assessment and qualifications; equality and social justice; accountability; national and international assessment systems; and sustainable change

In addition to being prepared to share insights from their own perspective at Review Group meetings, members of the Review Group are central to the process of evidence collection. Each Review Group member brings a depth of knowledge about their own community that will be crucial to the quality of evidence gathered to inform the Review’s thinking. The Review Group will draw on that expert knowledge by involving Review Group members in the process of evidence-gathering from the individual communities they represent. It may be appropriate for members of the group to set up sub-groups in order to effectively undertake that function.


The Chair, supported by the Qualifications and Assessment Review Group, will:

  • make recommendations to the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills on a set of design principles and recommendations to be used as the basis for SQA, or its successor body, to design and implement reform of qualifications in the senior phase. These design principles should reflect the overarching principles for qualifications and assessment as determined at the start of the review
  • commission national and international evidence to inform deliberations, as appropriate
  • ensure that there is robust evidence and justification for any proposals to change the current system
  • consider its work in the wider context of other relevant strategic reports including the work conducted by Professor Muir into the replacement of SQA and the reform of Education Scotland
  • consider feedback from a range of relevant stakeholders pertinent to the work, notably learners and young people, parents, teachers, lecturers, professional organisations, and associations, those with responsibility for delivering exams, and local and national policy makers
  • produce practical recommendations that have a broad consensus of support
  • provide advice on the implementation of change


The Group will meet monthly and;

  • publish relevant papers on the Scottish Government website in a timely manner
  • the Chair will meet the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills regularly during the lifespan of the group to update her on progress
  • the Chair will provide the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills with proposals before the end of 2022
  • the Group will use a range of methods to generate evidence from policy, practice and research and from that evidence draw conclusions


The Chair will begin this work in spring 2022 and it will conclude before the end of 2022.

Secretariat support

Secretariat support required by the independent Chair and the Group (including any sub-groups) will be provided through the Education Reform Directorate in Scottish Government. This secretariat will support the Chair and her Group in their activities, including those set out above. 

Sponsor arrangements

The Curriculum and Qualifications Division in the Education Reform Directorate will be the Chair’s sponsor Division within the Scottish Government. The named sponsor for this work will be the Deputy Director for Curriculum and Qualifications.

Paper three - class contact time reduction update


This short paper is intended to provide the Teacher Panel with an update on the proposals to reduce class contact time (CCT) for teachers.

Current context

Scottish Government has a commitment to reduce CCT by 90 minutes per week. The Programme for Government (PfG) states, “As we recover from the crisis, our teachers need more resources, and crucially, more time away from the classroom. Over the course of the Parliament, we will provide funding to support the recruitment of at least 3,500 teachers and 500 classrooms assistants – over and above the 1,400 recruited during the pandemic – with further funding to enable councils to make these posts permanent. This will give teachers the capacity to reduce contact time by an hour and a half a week which they can use to prepare for lessons, raise standards and undertake professional development”.

This would reduce CCT from 22.5 hours currently to 21 hours for all teachers (except for those teachers on the National Teacher Induction Scheme, who have separate arrangements). The Scottish Negotiating Committee for teachers (SNCT) as the body responsible for teachers’ terms and conditions is taking forward this work and will determine an implementation date.

The OECD's 'Education at a Glance 2021' statistics published in September 2021 show that Scottish teachers do more hours of teaching time per year than the OECD average. Teaching time is 855 hours per year in Scotland, compared to an OECD average of 791 in Primary. While teaching time in Scotland is above average, contractual working time is lower than the OECD average across all education levels. More recently also the OECD Curriculum review has recommended that teachers in Scotland should have more time to plan and prepare classes.

Work currently under way

The SNCT Support Group is currently giving consideration to the implementation of this commitment and the next meeting to discuss this is on 22 March 2022. SNCT changes require to be collectively agreed by all three parties – Scottish Government, COSLA and the unions. The focus of that meeting will be to agree the timing for the implementation of the CCT Reduction from which an action plan can then be developed.

We need to ensure that there are sufficient teachers in the system to accommodate the reduction in CCT. This involves work around teacher workforce planning and more localised information from local authorities to determine their estimation of “need”. COSLA has discussed this with local authorities and has issued a survey to local authorities asking them to provide returns on anticipated staffing requirements and any operational challenges in time for a scoping paper to go to SNCT on 22 March.


Reducing CCT is complex and not a simple numbers calculation. The timing of implementation will be a matter for the SNCT to determine based on need and capacity in the system, and a more flexible approach to implementation may be possible. Key issues to consider:

  • teacher workforce planning. Need to ensure that sufficient teachers are in place geographically, and by sector, to deliver the reduction
  • teacher training – depending on how many additional teachers are required may need a phased approach to increasing ITE to allow universities and the system to prepare for increased numbers
  • we have issued guidance to the Scottish Funding Council on intakes to initial teacher education programmes for the academic year 2022/23. These show an increase from 4,070 to 4,270 and include an increase of 200 places in PGDE secondary, taking the overall secondary target to 2,000 which may be challenging for universities to meet. These teachers will come into the system as probationers in August 2023
  • local authorities will also need to consider future pupil projections when identifying future teaching needs


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