The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Enhancing professionalism in education since 1965

Excellence in the education sector recognised at GTCS National Awards

Professionals working in Scotland’s education sector are being recognised for excellence in professional learning through a new GTCS awards programme

A national awards ceremony was held by the General Teaching Council for Scotland on Thursday, 21 September, at the Hilton Glasgow Grosvenor.

Scottish broadcaster and drummer Dougie Vipond Chaired the event, which brought together teachers and other professionals working in the education sector across Scotland. The awards ceremony, a first for GTCS, recognised and celebrated the professional learning and commitment of these individuals and organisations.

GTCS Chief Executive and Registrar, Ken Muir, said: “The schools, organisations and learning communities being recognised at the awards ceremony have shown real commitment to professional learning. This learning has the power to transform the thinking and practice of teaching practitioners and, importantly, the lives of children and young people in our schools and education settings.

Engaging in professional learning is part of ongoing teacher professionalism and through sharing and using this learning teachers can make a real difference. That is why professional learning sits at the heart of the Professional Standards. Congratulations and well done to all of our award winners.”

Awarded the Excellence in Professional Learning Award for Schools and Learning Communities were:

  • Windygoul Primary School, East Lothian
  • The Fife Pedagogy Team, Fife
  • St Ninian’s High School, East Dunbartonshire
  • The North Ayrshire Professional Learning Academy, North Ayrshire

Fiona Robertson, Head of Education at East Lothian Council, said: “On behalf of East Lothian Council, I would like to congratulate everyone at Windygoul Primary School. This award is a real credit to all the pupils, teaching and non-teaching staff, and the wider school community. This recognition is well deserved, and I hope that other schools are encouraged and inspired to follow their example.”

Carrie Lindsay, Executive Director at Fife Council, said: "We are delighted that The Pedagogy Team in Fife is being recognised for the innovative work that they undertake on a daily basis. Their work developing literacy and numeracy skills in schools, particularly in our areas of greatest disadvantage, has shown some very positive results.

The approach taken by the team is to work alongside teachers and pupil support assistants in schools to help support changes in their practice, leading to better outcomes for our children and young people."Councillor Mohrag Fischer, Education Convener of East Dunbartonshire Council’s Education Committee, congratulated St Ninian’s High School on its success. She said: “This is a tremendous achievement by an ambitious and forward thinking school where everyone is committed to continued improvement.

“From the top down, everyone at this award-winning school is always seeking out ways to improve the learning experience of its young people. I’d like to congratulate everyone involved and recognise the hard work and commitment involved in achieving this latest landmark success.”

Headteacher Paul McLaughlin added, "High quality learning and teaching is what St Ninian's High School is all about and the whole school community works hard to ensure that all our pupils are given every assistance they need to achieve their potential.

“We are delighted to have achieved this prestigious Excellence in Professional Learning Award which recognises the efforts made to ensure that our young people are fully prepared for life in the 21st century."

View photos of the award winners

Summaries about each award winner are provided below

Windygoul Primary School, East Lothian

Windygoul Primary School currently has a roll of 815 pupils including a Nursery and Behaviour Base. As a school community it strives to develop its vision for a centre of excellence through inclusion, collaboration and community spirit.

The school sees itself as a learning community where achievements are celebrated and steps for improvement built on through shared dialogue and understanding. The GTCS team who visited the school described it as having an outstanding culture of Leadership of and for Learning, with strong leadership and professional voices across the school. The voice of parents and the community is a strong feature and there is real belief in the impact of each person in the school being able to contribute and drive the learning forward.

As part of this the children across the school community have developed the idea of ‘learning heroes’. There is no doubt the school is clearly having a significant impact on the learning culture of its cluster schools and local authority by sharing the ‘Windygoul Way’.

The Fife Pedagogy Team, Fife

The Fife Pedagogy Team was established 4 years ago and consists of 10 teachers and three pupil support assistants who have been seconded to work full time on the project.

Their aim is to go into schools serving the most disadvantaged communities and help to build support and capacity for teaching and support staff to enable them and their school leaders to reduce the attainment gap across the region. The team has developed professional learning training in literacy, numeracy and nurturing. The foundation stone of all this work is nurture.

The Fife Pedagogy Team approach is unique in Scotland, and is a powerful agent for change because of the one-to-one training and support teachers and other school staff receive.

The team really ‘walk in the shoes’ of participant teachers and learn with them allowing for meaningful and genuine collaborative learning.
This approach enables them to support teachers to deeply know and understand the progress of children and young people and understand the relationship between and impact of teachers’ professional learning on outcomes for children.

St Ninian’s High School, East Dunbartonshire

Key to the work of St Ninian’s is striving to ensure that its young people are fully prepared for life in the 21st century.

The young people who attend the school are encouraged by all of the staff to be ambitious in their achievements, confident in their abilities, responsible within their community and effective in their learning by developing the talents of each individual.

During the course of the GTCS one-day visit to the school it was clear that there is a real sense of equity and deep respect for each other.
Parents and pupils, teachers and colleagues through different professional learning activities, forums and involvement in the life of the whole school, shape their own learning.

Across the day it was clear that learning is what St Ninian’s is all about.

 The North Ayrshire Professional Learning Academy, North Ayrshire

The North Ayrshire Professional Learning Academy is part of the council’s Attainment Challenge bid. Inspired by how the world’s best schools improve, the council wanted to close the poverty-related attainment gap by investing in practitioners.

The Professional Learning Academy team undertook considerable research into how the best schools improve.

Ultimately, they felt that investing in the education workforce and teachers was important as it ensured that whatever they did and continue to do was sustainable and would improve the quality of learning and teaching, as well as attainment and achievement.

The academy supports early years practitioners, primary and secondary teachers, speech and language therapists, and educational psychologists, to work and learn together to support and improve their professional skills knowledge and understanding.

It is clear that the Professional Learning Academy is committed to and develops a collective responsibility for learning of and for all. Teachers and staff members actively engage in professional dialogue about their own learning and learn with and from each other.