GTC Scotland

The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Professional standards and teacher professionalism

GTC Scotland has been working hard to prepare for the next phase in the refresh of the

Professional Standards. Senior Education Officer Charlaine Simpson explains what has been

happening and what’s next


1. Why are the Professional Standards being refreshed?

We review the Professional Standards and Professional Code every five years to make sure they remain fit for purpose. This review started back in 2017 when we commissioned a literature review and set up steering and working groups to discuss the main elements of each Professional Standard and decide what the ‘not for sale’ items were. The question we wanted to answer was: “how do we keep the Professional Standards current?”

We launched the National Conversation between November 2017 to March 2018 to gather views from the education system. All the feedback was taken into consideration and a redraft of the Professional Standards and Professional Code was then put out for public consultation in October 2019.

2. The public consultation ended in December 2019, what has happened since then?

We were very happy with the amount of engagement and responses. The results of the public consultation were analysed and grouped into 28 recommendations, which were set out in a report for the GTC Scotland Council. Council approved these recommendations at their meeting in March, and since then we have been working on the final version of the Professional Standards, in line with the recommendations.

Much of the feedback was that the Standards had too much jargon and were often too wordy – not the concise and supportive approach we were aiming for. An example of how we are refreshing the Standards is by changing word choices: for example, “IT” has become “digital literacy”. Another recommendation from the feedback was the need for the Professional Values to be more upfront. These are fundamental to teacher professionalism and are at the heart of the Standards. We were also guided to rethink the structure of each of the five Professional Standards to ensure better alignment across them all.

3. What are the next steps?

We reconvened a small working group to help us consider the recommendations and guide the final draft. This has continued to meet virtually during lockdown and the new Professional Standards are due to be presented to Council in June. Once approved, we will release these for teachers after the summer holidays to garner further feedback and encourage engagement, as it is essential that we get this right.

January to June of next year will be a time of ‘enactment’ – supporting teachers to put the Professional Standards into practice and allowing teachers to use and reflect on them. To support the enactment phase, we are putting together packages of support. These will be informed through earlier engagement. GTC Scotland needs to understand what teachers feel they need support with most; is it understanding the purpose of the Standards? Is it help with self-evaluation? We then need to look at what tools and resources can help in different areas. For example, hosting webinars, sharing underpinning research or creating learning resources. We are open to all feedback to ensure that we get the support right for registrants. The new Professional Standards are to become mandatory as of August 2021.

4. What does this timeline mean for those due to sign off PU in 2021/22?

Although teachers will be expected to use the new Professional Standards from August 2021, previous learning will not be lost. This will still be valid for the PU sign-off period, but new learning from August 2021 will align with the new Standards. What matters most for teachers is the impact and reflection on their learning.

...and what does this mean for students?

As the new Professional Standards become mandatory, this will mean that Initial Teacher Education (ITE) providers will need to reassess their programmes. We will be working with ITE providers throughout the enactment period to ensure that their programmes meet the necessary requirements so students can reach the Standard for Provisional Registration at the end of their ITE programme.

5. Will MyPL change to reflect the changes to the Professional Standards?

Yes, the refreshed suite of Professional Standards will be incorporated into MyPL. Any current records will be unaffected, and any new records made from August 2021 will be aligned with the new Professional Standards.

6. What about the professional code?

The plans for the revised Professional Code are a little different to the Professional Standards. A revised Professional Code was also put out for consultation in October 2019 and we gathered very helpful feedback.
Alongside this we have been preparing for college lecturer registration.

This has an impact on our Professional Code and a decision will be made shortly as to whether one Code can serve both teachers and lecturers or whether two separate Codes are preferable.
Once this decision has been made, we will clarify the arrangements for further engagement and/or consultation with registrants.

Our ambition is to have both finalised Standards and Code/s in place for August 2021.