Change is coming
Your Teaching Scotland magazine will guide you through the transformation
As memories of the summer holidays quickly fade and the new academic session begins in earnest, it is worth reflecting on some of the significant developments that were making the news just before and during the holiday period – all of which have the potential to have far-reaching impact on teachers, learners and the future of Scottish education.
We continue to look at innovative ways in which we can support the recruitment and retention of excellent teachers so that children and young people receive the quality education they deserve
The much-awaited outcomes, or “next steps”, to the Scottish Government’s review of education governance were published in the middle of June. The creation of new regional improvement collaboratives; strengthening the voice of children and young people, parents and communities; establishing a Headteachers’ Charter; the establishment of a Scottish Education Council; and the transfer of functions from the Scottish College for Educational Leadership to “a renewed and revitalised Education Scotland” are all set to be part of the new, streamlined, more coherent Scottish education system.
Major changes are afoot for GTC Scotland too, with the Scottish Government’s plans to consult in this autumn’s Education Bill on establishing an Education Workforce Council for Scotland that will take on the responsibilities of GTC Scotland, the Community Learning and Development Standards Council, and the registration of other education professionals. There will be a range of views as to the next steps for GTC Scotland and we are already in discussion with the Scottish Government on the implications of their proposals. Certainly, more detail is required on issues such as the degree of independence afforded this new body, the make-up of its Council and the extent to which it will have a teacher majority in order to maintain the important principle of the self-regulation of the profession. The autumn consultation will be an opportunity to ask these questions and to ensure that, whatever form the Education Workforce Council takes, it is the right one for the education of Scotland.
However, what captured most of the headlines when the Governance Review findings were announced were plans to “create a school and teacher-led system… [in which]…decisions about improving learning and teaching and the funding to support these new statutory duties will rest at school level”. Your Teaching Scotland magazine was quick off the mark to ask registrants to respond to the motion that more power, including budget, should be devolved directly to individual schools. The results make very interesting reading!
During the summer holidays, the Scottish Government’s International Council of Education Advisers reported some of its findings. The advisers cautioned that efforts to improve attainment as part of Scotland’s Attainment Challenge should not result in broader development and wider achievement of children being overlooked. They also highlighted the need to improve the method and practice of teaching in specific subjects; the need for effective leadership at all levels in education; and ensuring there is a culture of collaboration within schools at regional and national levels. Interestingly, in the context of the Governance Review, the international advisers also warned that the government should not become too focused on changing the structure of the education system, saying that the more important aspects were arguably culture and capacity.
The well-reported deliberations of the Scottish Government’s Education and Skills Committee on education workforce planning held over four sessions in May will be reported on early in the new session. At a time when teacher shortages continue to command coverage in the press and media, the report is likely to contain significant advice on addressing this important matter for us all.
GTC Scotland’s accreditation of university ITE is another topic that has attracted much attention over the summer holidays. There has been no shortage of misreporting and misrepresentation of the role of these new Scottish university-based routes, some of which are in pilot form, in providing wider opportunities to attract much-needed new staff into the teaching profession without diluting the quality and high standards we demand. Here at GTC Scotland we continue to look at innovative ways in which we can support the recruitment and retention of excellent teachers so that children and young people in Scottish schools receive the quality education they deserve.
One area reported as suffering most from a teacher shortage is additional support needs (ASN). In this edition of Teaching Scotland, we focus on the work of three charities that support children with ASN and explain how they can work with teachers to give these children and young people the best opportunities in education. We have made available on our website and in hard copy to university ITE providers an excellent resource from The Salvesen Mindroom, one of the charities featured. Their guide, called It Takes All Kinds of Minds, very helpfully sets out information about learning difficulties and provides examples of how we can all make small changes to better support children experiencing these difficulties.
Over a busy summer, work at GTC Scotland in supporting the teaching profession has continued at pace and updates on some of that work is also covered in this edition of your Teaching Scotland magazine. We have 12 registered teacher posts to fill on our Council. As you will hear from new video clips on our website featuring current Council members, the work of GTC Scotland’s Council is critical to the success of the Scottish education system and I urge all of you to consider standing for one of these vacancies and to vote in the online election when it opens in January 2018.
Work to review and revise the Professional Standards for teachers is well under way, led by groups comprising a wide range of stakeholders. The stages in developing the revised Standards are covered in an article which also explains how we plan to access “Your Professional Voice” through a National Conversation that will lead to a revised set of “Your Professional Standards”.
Engagement in ongoing professional learning is one of the hallmarks of a teaching professional and GTC Scotland has been at the forefront of supporting professional learning through the Professional Standards for many years. The professional learning model presented in this edition builds on the articles on teacher professionalism carried in previous editions of the magazine. Also in this edition, read about how GTC Scotland is recognising excellent professional learning through our Excellence in Professional Learning Awards. Finally, GTC Scotland has been working to make significant changes to the fitness to teach process to bring it into line with recommended best regulatory practice. You can get a flavour of what these changes mean in the article in this edition, and access more detail on our website.