The General Teaching Council for Scotland

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Answers to your questions about the fee rise

Following the announcement about the GTCS fee increasing from £50 to £65 from April 2017, teachers from across Scotland have asked the following questions which we answer in detail below. We would like to thank those who raised points and ideas which we will take into account as we continue to improve the services we offer.

Any teacher who wishes to visit GTCS and see the wide range of work that is carried out on behalf of teachers and the Scottish education system would be made welcome.  You can contact us at: gtcs@gtcs.org.uk

1. Why increase the fee?

The registration fee is increasing for the first time in three years by £1.25 per month from £50 to £65 annually.

Rather than this being financial mismanagement as some have suggested, our planned financial strategy over these three years has been to run down reserves to the minimum level set by our Council members in line with best practice set out by the charity regulator OSCR, and to avoid increasing the fee in the intervening years. These reserves are necessary to cover our pension liabilities and operational costs.

The new fee level is still significantly below that of most professional regulatory bodies and the cost of being a member of many trade unions. The new fee will help to continue and enhance the range of services GTCS provides to its registrants and the wider public.

You can read our full, audited accounts on our website here.

Senior staff salaries are also available on our website here.

These are in line with senior salaries in education and other public bodies, such as local authorities.

Every professional has a responsibility to maintain the trust that the public places in them: being subject to professional regulation is a necessary part of this. It is important to note that the Scottish teaching profession is self-regulating (via the GTCS which is governed by a Council including a majority of elected registered teachers and is an independent body) rather than being regulated by government or others. It is also important to remember that GTCS was formed over 50 years ago as a direct result of overwhelming teacher demand and to raise standards in teaching by removing unqualified teachers.  

2. Who made the decision to increase the fee?

This unanimous decision was taken by our Council members, the majority of whom are elected and registered teachers, and members of teacher trade unions, and all of whom have a good understanding of the challenges currently faced by teachers. The fee increase has been discussed by our Council members (via our committee structure) since early 2015.

You can see a list of our Council members here

3. Why do we legally have to register with GTCS?

Registration with GTCS is compulsory for those employed as teachers in local authority schools in Scotland. Registration will become compulsory for those working in independent and grant-aided schools in the near future.

The Scottish teaching profession is regulated by GTCS because teaching is an important and valued profession and it is essential that public confidence is maintained in it. We help ensure public confidence in teachers by carrying out checks to ensure that only those who are fit to teach are registered, and investigating fitness to teach where required. We also ensure that all those who are registered are suitably qualified (including by accrediting initial teacher education in Scotland) and provide ongoing reassurance that teachers meet and maintain our professional standards. 

Every professional has a responsibility to maintain the trust that the public place in them: being subject to professional regulation is a necessary part of this. It is important to note that the Scottish teaching profession is self-regulating (via the GTCS which is governed by a Council including a majority of elected registered teachers and is an independent body) rather than being regulated by government or others.  It is also important to remember that GTCS was formed over 50 years ago as a direct result of overwhelming teacher demand and to raise standards in teaching by removing unqualified teachers. 

4. Does GTCS have a £2 million surplus in its accounts?

No. This was reported inaccurately in a newspaper. This newspaper looked at our accounts in September (half way through the year) when we had a £2m surplus. This is because all of our revenue comes in during April when registrants pay their fees. The majority of our budget is spent in the second half of the year and by the end of the financial year we will not have a significant surplus.

5. What does GTCS do for me?

You can read detailed information about the work of GTCS on our website at: www.gtcs.org.uk.

There is comprehensive information about our work on our website and regular updates are provided in Teaching Scotland magazine.

6. What does recent research say about teacher attitudes to GTCS?

Why? Research carried out an independent and in-depth stakeholder survey for GTCS in 2015:

  • 4487 teachers responded to the survey
  • 41 organisations and 1002 members of the public responded to the survey
  • 83% of teachers positive and only 7% negative about the role of GTCS

Teacher responses:

  • 81% of teachers recognise that GTCS maintains standards of teaching and teacher professionalism
  • 72% recognise that GTCS enhances standards of teaching and of teacher professionalism
  • 50% would still register with GTCS even if it was not a legal or employment requirement
  • 60% felt that the GTCS fee level (£50 at that time) was of similar value or better value than fees they pay to other bodies
  • 81% of the view that GTCS has a positive future role to play in Scottish education

Stakeholders (local authorities; SG and other bodies; colleges/universities) responses:

  • 90% of stakeholders recognise that GTCS maintains standards of teaching and teacher professionalism
  • 88% recognise that GTCS enhances standards of teaching and of teacher professionalism
  • 93% of the view that GTCS has a positive future role to play in Scottish education

You can view the stakeholder research here

7. Is the registration fee tax deductible?

Yes. You can reclaim the tax on the registration fee via the HMRC. See more details here.

8. Can I pay my fee monthly and by direct debit?

This was discussed in detail by Council members when debating the fee increase. Currently, the majority of registrants’ fees are deducted from teacher salaries (deducted at source) by the 32 different local authorities and transferred to GTCS.

Offering monthly payment by direct debit would involve GTCS disentangling from this relationship with the local authorities. This would result in additional administrative costs which we have estimated to be in the region of £750,000. These costs would be essential for the necessary IT development, staffing, and monthly rather than annual collection and direct debit charges. This would equate to another £10 on top of the £65 fee.

9. Have you considered variable fees?

Yes, this was also considered in detail by Council members. The decision was taken to stick to a flat rate for all registrants in the interests of equity. Members feared a situation where some registrants might be viewed as ‘less valued’ than others because they paid a smaller fee.

10. Why not stop Teaching Scotland magazine and save money that way?

Many teachers have emailed saying they do not read Teaching Scotland magazine. And many teachers have emailed saying they do not know what GTCS does for them. There is a contradiction here as five times a year Teaching Scotland carries comprehensive information about what GTCS does for teachers.

The registration fee is not based on what the magazine costs to issue. Teaching Scotland is an integral part of the services GTCS offers and is our primary communications channel to teachers so we can update you on policy, statutory and other developments. Many teachers tell us that they enjoy Teaching Scotland and see it as a useful part of their professional learning.

It is possible to opt to receive an online version of the magazine only and you can do this through your MyGTCS account (another of the services GTCS provides).

11. Why do I have to do Professional Update?

Engaging in continuous professional learning is the mark of a professional. It is widely accepted across various professions that keeping skills and knowledge up to date is critical in ensuring that those served by the profession are given the best quality service and experience. In education, all the international research points to the importance of teachers engaging in career-long professional learning as a means of improving outcomes for all learners.

Undertaking Professional Update offers reassurance to other teachers, children and young people, and the wider public that a teacher is appropriately qualified and engaging in ongoing professional learning.

Some teachers have suggested that they do Professional Update via their local authority system and not GTCS. Some teachers do use local authority systems to record their professional learning. However, every teacher has to submit their confirmation of having completed Professional Update to GTCS. This amounts to around 12,000 teachers each year. GTCS signs off submissions and carries out an evaluation of a sample of submissions to ensure quality and that standards are being met. Whether or not Professional Update is recorded on a bespoke or GTCS system, it is GTCS that manages Professional Update including providing numerous information sessions and support services to teachers undertaking their professional learning.

12. How does the fee compare to other professional bodies?

The GTCS fee is relatively low compared to other professional bodies. People immediately counter that by saying teachers are paid less than other professionals; however, nurses, midwives and dental nurses, for example, pay considerably more to their respective professional bodies, the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the General Dental Council.

You can find comparisons of professional body fees on our website here.

13. Is GTCS Empire building?

GTCS has fewer than 60 full-time staff working on behalf of over 70,000 registrants. The Professional Associations Research Network (PARN) suggests that the average number of registrants per professional body employee in the UK is 477. GTCS serves 1,120 registrants per employee. PARN also states that the average number of employees for a professional body is 92. PARN findings also suggest that GTCS has a below average income and expenditure for an organisation of its type.

14. What financial efficiencies has GTCS made recently?

Over the financial year 2015–16 GTCS had an overall income of £4.4 million with an expenditure of £4.7 million.

GTC Scotland has made financial savings wherever possible through:

  • retendering contracts
  • reducing spend on Presenting Officers by moving work in-house
  • streamlining fitness to teach processes
  • reducing Panel member size to three
  • reductions in printing and postage costs (all of our meetings are now paperless)
  • reductions in overheads and other items
  • business process re-design.

All of the above areas have resulted in the following financial savings, projected to 2020:

  • 2015/16 - 119,000
  • 2016/17 - 123,000
  • 2017/18 - 149,000
  • 2018/19 - 167,000
  • 2019/20 - 184,000

This equates to savings of approximately 3% per annum, comparable to bodies such as local authorities. Nevertheless, it is still necessary to increase the fee to support the services we offer teachers.

15. ‘Useless bureaucratic morons!’

This is just one of the statements GTCS employees have been subjected to when fielding registrant feedback about the fee rise. Individual staff members have been called incompetent; we have been accused of financial mismanagement; and staff salaries have been bandied about on social media.

Not only are these statements completely without foundation, they breach the GTCS Code of Professionalism and Conduct (COPAC) which all teachers are expected to follow. They also breach the values of the Standards for Registration.

It is important to point out that much of the feedback we have received has been courteous and constructive. We would like to ask that all registrants respect the COPAC, our values and our employees who are committed and hard working on behalf of teachers and the wider public.

Further updates and news bulletins will be provided to GTCS registrants throughout 2017.