The General Teaching Council for Scotland

One year on...

Development Officers, Jim Moore and Sarah Stevenson, have been speaking to teachers and local authorities about all aspects of GTC Scotland’s role

Last year, we introduced you to Jim Moore and Sarah Stevenson, who had joined GTC Scotland as Development Officers. Their role is to engage with the teaching profession to raise awareness of the work of GTC Scotland and to get feedback on areas for improvement in the services we provide. 
As their first year comes to an end, we caught up with Jim and Sarah, to see how their work has been going, what they have learned and how the feedback is informing GTC Scotland’s plans to provide improved support and engagement with the profession.

Raising awareness of Fitness to Teach

The pair have visited all 32 of Scotland’s local authorities, meeting with local authority staff; education teams and individual teachers; and delivering training to head teachers.
Sarah said: “It’s been a journey of trains, planes and automobiles but it was important that we covered as much of Scotland as possible. Our Chief Executive, Ken Muir, was clear that he didn’t want the islands and rural communities to be disadvantaged because of their location.”

Research commissioned by GTC Scotland showed that more needed to be done to inform teachers and local authorities about the purpose of Fitness to Teach (FtT) and how it operates. Accordingly, the duo’s focus has been on raising awareness of FtT main processes and helping local authorities and head teachers understand what is expected of them as employers and leaders in terms of managing FtT issues.

The difference between competence and conduct

Jim said: “We had a look at the authorities’ policies and procedures before meeting with them, so that we understood how they currently work. That helped us to identify any gaps from our end and clarify anything that the authorities may have been concerned about.”

From there, Sarah and Jim were able to identify and tailor training opportunities. For example, training delivered to primary headteachers covered teacher conduct, the GTCS Fitness to Teach Threshold Policy, Code of Professionalism and Conduct (CoPAC), and other related processes.
Jim said: “Because competence is far more subjective than conduct, it is the issue that most employers struggle with. The meetings and training were delivered to help give our audiences an understanding of what might be a real issue and how to address it. We also looked at how to have difficult conversations with staff around competency.”

Working in the public interest

The focus of Jim and Sarah’s work is very much based on a collaborative approach between GTC Scotland, local authorities, teachers and unions. Feedback from those involved has helped the team identify new avenues and further projects to take forward.

Sarah said: “We have already started meeting with parents and we hope to develop this engagement even more. Many people don’t appreciate that GTC Scotland’s legislative role is to act in the public interest. We want to work with parent groups to ensure that they have a clear understanding of our processes and what is a legitimate referral.”
Moreover, while parents can report directly to GTC Scotland about conduct, they can’t report competence issues to us. These should be reported to schools and local authorities directly.

Now that the initial visits have taken place, Sarah and Jim will take 16 local authorities each, planning support visits for each local authority. This will be in addition to any further training or visit requests that might be made by schools and local authorities.

From September, the team will start visiting schools in the Independent Sector to ensure that they are prepared for the October 2020 deadline by which all teachers in those schools must
be registered with GTC Scotland.

For more information, contact jim.moore@gtcs.org.uk or sarah.stevenson@gtcs.org.uk