What progress have we made so far with Professional Update? Our Professional Update Working Group, with representation from key stakeholders in Scottish education, continues to meet regularly to review progress and plan the next stages of development. The direction of Professional Update is clear – it’s based on effective, consistent Professional Review and Development and high-quality professional learning focused on outcomes for a teacher’s own development as well as on improving outcomes for children and young people. Since August 2012, we have been piloting Professional Update with three local authorities – East Renfrewshire, North Lanarkshire and Perth and Kinross, as well as with Erskine Stewart’s Melville Schools in the independent sector. Feedback from teachers participating in the pilot has been positive, and we have used this feedback to help prepare for the next stages of the pilot as well as for the national roll out of Professional Update which will begin in August 2014. This session we have extended the pilot significantly, and we are now working with almost half of the local authorities in Scotland, six independent schools as well as colleagues in the University sector and Education Scotland. We are also engaging with the local authorities who are not yet participating in the pilot programmes, to provide advice and support as well as delivering briefing sessions for head teachers and teachers across these local authorities.

So what have teachers who have been engaging in the pilot been doing? The Professional Update process requires the following of teachers:

  •  An annual update of contact details to GTC Scotland
  • Engagement in professional learning
  • Self-evaluation against the appropriate GTC Scotland Professional Standard
  • Discussion of this engagement and the impact of this, as part of the PRD process
  • Maintain a professional learning record and portfolio of evidence
  • 5 yearly confirmation of this engagement to GTC Scotland

As well as developing this process, it’s been really important to ensure that we have systems and resources in place to support teachers as they engage in this new process. To update contact details, teachers can visit the GTC Scotland website and create a MyGTCS account, enabling them to update their details easily. Guidance documentation on Professional Update, to be published in the coming months, will include detailed advice on professional learning opportunities that teachers might engage in and as well as guidance on maintaining a portfolio of evidence.

In addition, we have recently revised the Professional Standards to ensure that these meet the needs of teachers at all stages of their careers. These revised standards came into effect in August 2013. The Standards for Registration, which include the Standards for Provisional and Full Registration, are the mandatory standards, with the Standard for Full Registration required to be maintained by all teachers throughout their careers, and is the benchmark for teacher competence in Scotland. We have developed a standard for Career-Long Professional Learning, for teachers who choose to reflect against this standard. This is an aspirational standard which should support teachers engaging in self-evaluation and in planning their professional learning. The Standards for Leadership and Management supports the development of those in or aspiring to leadership roles in our schools and includes a Standard for Middle Leadership, which should be of particular help to aspiring Principal Teachers as well as those already in post. To support teachers in using these standards we have developed a range of support materials which can be accessed on the GTC Scotland website at www.gtcs.org.uk/standards

We’ve also developed an online profile for teachers to record their professional learning, linked to their MyGTCS account, and teachers in Perth and Kinross and the Erskine Stewart’s Melville Schools have been piloting this for us during phase 1 of the pilot. Again, their feedback has been really positive, and useful in helping us to develop the system further as we work with an increasing amount of teachers across Scotland.

It remains really important for GTC Scotland to continue to engage with all teachers to ensure that they aware of this forthcoming change in their engagement with their professional body. The Education Team at GTC Scotland spend a significant time out in schools and local authorities presenting this information – so keep an eye out for us in a school or local authority near you!

Gillian Hamilton

Head of Educational Services

GTC Scotland