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Chamber and committees

Education, Children and Young People Committee

Budget 22 to 23 Follow up Information from Cabinet Secretary

Cabinet Secretary response and follow up information 28 January 2022

Stephen Kerr MSP
Education, Children and Young People Committee

I attended Committee on 12 January to give evidence on the Education and Skills portfolio budget. During the session I undertook to follow up in writing on some specific points of questioning. The Annex below provides the information sought by Committee.

I hope you and the Committee members find it useful.

Shirley-Anne Somerville

Education and Skills Budget 2022-23- Follow up to Evidence Session 12 January 2022
Programmes to support the mental wellbeing of Teachers, such as Place2Be, and the uptake of these programmes

The health and wellbeing of school staff is a key concern of this government. The wellbeing of our education workforce is crucial as they support our children and young people to recover from the pandemic. In September 2020, the Scottish Government announced funding for a package of professional learning support developed in partnership to support the wellbeing of the education workforce during the pandemic. A similar level of funding was committed for ongoing education workforce professional learning support in 2021/22. These packages of support have been offered in addition to the existing professional learning and leadership programmes which are offered by Education Scotland and the values-based leadership programmes offered by Columba 1400.

The 2020/21 package of support included offers from a range of providers. Mental health and wellbeing support were provided by Place2Be through open online webinars which had 465 attendees and Place2Think sessions which was offered to 355 participants. Barnardo’s Scotland also offered workshops and events aimed at supporting wellbeing which were attended by 185 participants. Coaching support was a core component of the package in 2020/21 and 414 participants engaged in one-to-one coaching through the provider Know You More. Coaching professional learning programmes were also offered in 2020/21 with 196 in attendance on these. The 2020/21 package of support included bespoke support to early career teachers through the Stepping Stones programme which is offered in partnership with the General Teaching Council for Scotland. 886 teachers engaged in Stepping Stones in 2020/21. The package also provided funding for the Scottish Association of Minority Ethnic Educators (SAMEE) to offer support to Black and Minority Ethnic education professionals, with 28 participants in 2020/21.

Through discussions with stakeholders it was agreed that whilst a similar package of support should be offered in 2021/22, a procurement approach should be taken where possible to source provision. As a result of this procurement process the providers of the mental health and wellbeing support in 2021/22 are This is Milk and Barnardo’s Scotland. It should be noted that the 2021/22 package is currently being delivered and the numbers of participants may therefore change in future. The Wellbeing Learning Leaders programme from This is Milk currently has 69 participants engaging, however Education Scotland are looking to enhance the capacity of this offer to meet the demand expressed. The Supervision Spaces offered by Barnardo’s Scotland currently has 258 participants engaging. A Cycle of Wellbeing resource has also been added to the package this year, with 70 participants engaging on webinars on this to date. Coaching support continues to be a core component of the package with 228 signing up for one-to-one coaching from Know You More and 200 participants on the peer-to-peer coaching offer facilitated through Coaching Direct in 2021/22. A national coaching professional learning programme is also ongoing with 51 participants. The Stepping Stones programme continues this year with 1023 participants signed up and 17 participants are engaging in the offer from SAMEE this year. There have also been additional wellbeing webinars offered to the workforce this year with 1241 in attendance over four sessions.

The packages of support offered to date have been well received by participants and have been positively evaluated through a stakeholder working group. We continue to use the feedback received through this evaluation group as well as the CERG Workforce Support Workstream to inform our approach to providing wellbeing professional learning support to the education workforce.

The full quantum of funding for colleges across all Scottish Government portfolios

At this stage, it is too soon to say what the total quantum of funding for the college sector will be in financial year 2022-23. This is because policy teams from across Government are in the process of discussing and agreeing funding allocations with Ministers.

In the meantime, I can give an indication of some of the significant transfers to the college budget in financial 2022-23 that we already know about. It is anticipated that £12 million will be transferred for the Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF). Approximately £2 million will be transferred for the completion of National Transition Training Fund (NTTF) projects to finish the commitment to academic year 2021-22.

Officials are working closely with the Scottish Funding Council and the college sector to determine how much of the Young Persons Guarantee funding is to be allocated to the college sector to help shape future delivery and ensure opportunities for the most disadvantaged young people are provided.

The final total amount of funding to be allocated to the college sector in financial year 2022-23 will not be clear until the budget revision processes are complete. As you know, there are usually two opportunities to amend the budget as the financial year progresses - the Autumn Budget Revision and a Spring Budget Revision. These revisions are routine parliamentary business that proposes amendments to better align the Government’s budget with its planned spending profile. This means that many changes to the college budget will not be finalised until in-year.

We are happy to keep the committee informed as the budgetary position becomes clearer and will provide a further update by the end of March 2022.

Additional funding for ventilation – costings

The Committee requested further information on how the costings for the additional capital funding of up to £5m for ventilation in schools/ELC settings had been arrived at.


The Scottish Government provided £10m of funding to local authorities in August 2021, in order to support their work on ventilation and CO2 monitoring. That funding could be used for the purchase and deployment of Co2 monitors, related additional staffing costs, and any remedial work identified as necessary as a result of monitoring, in line with our guidance on reducing risks in schools.

At the time this funding was provided, it was agreed that Scottish Government and Local Government officials would remain in close contact regarding the potential need for any further funding, to help minimise barriers to the effective implementation of guidance in schools and ELC settings.

Drawing on the £10m funding, local authorities completed initial monitoring of all learning, teaching and play spaces in Scotland last term. As I set out in my previous update to the committee, they also reported undertaking remedial work where required.

The Scottish Government’s guidance sets out strategies to help achieve a balance between fresh air and maintaining levels of warmth in schools during winter. Building on local authority progress with initial CO2 monitoring, and noting that the weight of available evidence continues to support a primary focus on improving natural and mechanical ventilation, this guidance was updated in December 2021 to include advice on ratios of monitors to spaces and frequency of assessments. It also makes clear the specific circumstances in which use of air cleaning and filtration devices may be appropriate, aligned with expert advice including that from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Ongoing engagement with Cosla officials and local authority stakeholders has indicated that some local authorities have now exhausted their initial allocations from the original £10m funding. To ensure that guidance on ventilation can continue to be implemented as effectively as possible by local authorities, the First Minister announced additional capital funding of up to £5 million that local authorities may draw on to undertake any further urgent remedial work required in problematic spaces. In her statement to Parliament, she said:

[…] I can confirm today that we will allocate an additional £5 million of capital funding to local authorities and to fund early learning and childcare providers. This of course is in addition to the money previously provided for CO2 monitors and will support any remedial work that councils need to do to improve air flow and comply with the new guidance.

In line with Scottish Government guidance, remedial measures that may be considered for persistently problematic areas (e.g. those that persistently have a CO2 reading of more than 1500ppm, which cannot be addressed through basic measures) include adjustments to window-and door-opening, use of localised mechanical vent/extractor fan systems, and use of air cleaning devices as a temporary mitigation while viable methods of improving ventilation are identified.

Costings and assumptions

The Scottish Government, drawing on advice from Scottish Futures Trust, has made a number of educated assumptions in deciding upon the level of funding that is likely to be required for further remedial work on ventilation in schools, and arriving at the figure of £5m for the top-up capital funding.

Based on informal local authority feedback, we expect that relatively only a very small number of learning, teaching or play spaces will have persistently high CO2 levels. Scottish Government guidance, based on the current weight of expert advice, is that the primary focus of mitigating activity should be on regular CO2 monitoring and associated remedial actions to improve ventilation (i.e. the introduction of fresh air into spaces). Where this cannot be readily achieved, and CO2 readings remain high, air cleaning/filtration devices may exceptionally be used as a temporary mitigation to reduce risks in problematic spaces while more sustainable, ventilation-based solutions are implemented.

The informal local authority feedback indicated that around 2-4% of spaces have so far fallen into that problematic category, equalling around 2,000 spaces out of 50,000 learning, teaching and play spaces across all local authority school and ELC settings. Local authorities have indicated to us that action is already being taken to address these issues – however, to ensure that funding does not act as a barrier to remedial action, we have acted to make additional funding available to support their work.

In order to calculate the £5m schools/ELC ventilation fund, we have assumed an example set of remedial measures which could be taken for each problematic space although this will vary depending on local decisions. The key elements of the example scenario, and the costs attached, are as follows:

• Use of an air cleaning/filtration unit to deal with a temporary situation where CO2 levels cannot be reduced. One unit has been assumed to cost around £800, based on the average cost of the devices made available via the DfE in England. 2,000 spaces x £800 = £1.6m.

• As part of a longer-term solution, we have assumed the need for two localised, small mechanical ventilation/extractor fan units to be installed, with funding of £600 available for each, at a total of £1200. These costs are aligned with those in the business ventilation fund guidance and have been verified against a sample of manufacturer costs (note: costs may vary depending on the unit required). 2,000 x £1,200 = £2.4m.

Finally, we have assumed the door in the example space will need to be undercut to increase airflow, at a cost of £150, in line with business ventilation fund guidance. 2,000 x £150 = £300,000.

This example scenario provides a total cost of £2150 per problematic space, which for 2000 spaces would come to £4.3m. We have also built in a further £0.7m for contingency costs and provision for PVI childcare providers, giving a total of up to £5m. Details of the mechanism for PVI Childcare providers to access funding are currently in development.

It is very important to note that these costs will of course vary significantly in practice, as the precise remedial measures used in each problematic space should be informed by local circumstances and expert assessment by local authority teams. We do not, for example, expect that every problematic space will need an air cleaning device – settings may instead opt to relocate classes to alternative spaces while alternative, longer-term measures are put in place. However, using an example scenario to build an indicative cost per problem space is in our view a sound basis for deciding on the overall quantum for the funding.

Some members of the Committee expressed a particular interest in the cost of air cleaning devices and the number of any such devices that could be purchased using the additional funding. Again, I would like to reiterate that this funding is not intended purely for air cleaning devices – it is intended to support effective remedial works for ventilation, in line with our guidance. However, in theory, taking the average cost of £800 above, the total funding available could be enough for 6,000 or more air cleaning devices. For the purposes of comparison, the DfE in England are making up to 9,000 devices available to education settings that encompass a much higher number of learning, teaching and play spaces. Our understanding is that Welsh Government guidance does not currently address the use of air cleaning devices in schools, although guidance across the 4 nations is of course updated regularly.

Scottish Government officials are working at pace with local authority colleagues to ensure that the detailed criteria for the additional funding and how to access it are finalised as soon as possible.

Quality of data and the work around data that is being done in the short-life working group

We do already gather and publish a range of high quality data, for example the Achievement of CfE Levels data and on young people’s performance in national qualifications. Three of the eleven key measures in the National Improvement Framework are focused on health and wellbeing.

We have however, committed to going further than that and to look at gathering a wider range of data that looks across the four capacities of CfE.

When considering data associated with the delivery of the curriculum, it is necessary to consider what we want the data for and how it will be used. For example:

1. Mainly for teachers and practitioners - measuring the successes of individual learners to support individual learners’ goals and ambitions within and beyond education.

2. Mainly for Scottish Government and national education bodies - measuring the effectiveness of CfE as a whole, particularly its implementation to support ongoing improvement.

As above, we have a number of data collections and measurement tools in place to support 1. The contention there is that exams and other measures of attainment really only measure the ‘successful learners’ capacity and it could be said we do not adequately capture how effectively each learner is embodying ‘confident individual’, ‘effective contributor’ and ‘responsible citizen’ at national level; teachers’ understanding of their own students’ progress will of course be more nuanced.

I have been clear that the ACEL data, supported by national standardised assessments, will continue as the key indicator of progress in the BGE. In the senior phase, the Stobart report and the work Louise Hayward is leading is focused on how the approach to assessment of learners’ progress, and qualifications, can more explicitly recognise this wider range of capacities.

The OECD argues that without effective ‘management’ information at the national or local level, we cannot know how well the ambitions of CfE are really being realised at school, regional or national level. Scottish Government does collect a number of datasets to support our understanding of progress within CfE, such as ACEL, but it is true that we have never set out to develop a detailed picture designed to support and drive improvement at the system level. This is closely related to the OECD recommendation that a comprehensive review process should be developed and implemented, as such a process will need data to support it.

This links to the recommendations on data from the 2021 Audit Scotland report which suggests that there is an imbalance towards more traditional measures of attainment within the National Improvement Framework. The 11 key measures in the NIF are primarily focused on attainment and closing the poverty related attainment gap.

The Audit Scotland report recommends that the Scottish Government:

• work with stakeholders to develop and publish consistent and robust national data that reflects the ambitions of the national curriculum, national policy priorities such as health and wellbeing and confidence, and key priorities for Covid-19 recovery and improvement.

• update the NIF to reflect data on these agreed outcomes and consider how to ensure that there is greater prominence on these broader outcome measures in public reporting

There are also links here to the refreshed Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC) programme. This is a key, targeted element of education recovery efforts, taking due account of the impact of the pandemic and seeking to accelerate progress in reducing the poverty related attainment gap from the stage pupils, schools and local authorities are at now.

As part of this, we intend to include in grant offer letters for SAC monies to LAs a requirement for 22/23 LA improvement plans to include clearly identified local stretch aims. Once these have been set out and received, the data will be aggregated to understand both the range and ambition of the stated aims. It will be expected that these LA plans represent an aggregation of schools’ stated ambitions, with support and guidance offered to LAs on what good planning from school level through to LA level looks like. Once there is a ground-up understanding of local aims and ambitions, develop an ambitious, but realistic, set of national objectives for progress (potentially to replace the existing national stretch aims).

We have undertaken, in our response to the OECD report, to review the 11 NIF key measures during the course of 2022 and to convene a group to look at options for a sample-based survey covering the four capacities of CfE.

It is clear from the work that officials have done so far and the discussions they have had with stakeholders, that this is a very complex area that needs careful and detailed consideration to find the right way forward. That consideration is underway, and it is necessary to clearly define the task and objectives for the work before we convene that group or begin the review of the NIF measures. I will provide a further update to the Committee once we have reached that point. We remain committed to having the revised measures set out in the 2023 National Improvement Framework and Improvement Plan in December 2022.