Professional Standards FAQs and Myths
Engaging with the Standards and using them as tools for both reflection and development are key to the Professional Update Process. Not everyone, however, is either familiar with the Standards, clear about their purpose or confident in their use. As a result questions are being asked, advice sought and on occasion myths developing. Outlined below are just some of the questions and myths surrounding the use of the Standards.
1. Do I have to cover all elements of the Standards with which I am working?
- No. You are expected to reflect against the Standards and consider areas where you feel that you would wish to develop. The areas you select will be relative to the your professional needs, the needs of the young people with whom you work, the needs of the school in which you work and the broader aims of the authority/ organisation for whom you work. This may well focus on developing areas of expertise and accomplishment, rather than addressing gaps.
2. Do I have to cover all of the aspects of the Standard that I am working on over the 5 year PU period?
- No. The Standards are there to support you in planning your learning and developing your professional skills and knowledge. Professional Update is about a commitment to ongoing professional learning, what that learning looks like will differ from person to person. There may be a time over the 5 years that you focus on an area of the Standards as you are deepening you learning. At another time you may choose very different areas of the Standards due to the nature of your professional learning needs.
3. Do I have to take a traffic light approach to self evaluating against the Standards?
- It all depends how you use this approach and what you hope to gain from it. 'Traffic lighting' can provide a quick look or 'temperature check' but can be very limited, too focused on gaps or a 'deficit' model of professional learning and development.
The Standards are there to support your professional learning and development. They are intended to be a development tool which promotes critical thinking, self-reflection and discussion. Traffic lighting, or similar approaches, often do not lend themselves well to this deeper reflection. At an individual level they can help you consider where you are at present and what you would like to learn next in a particular area and what learning you would wish to undertake to achieve this. They can also provide a sound basis for a professional discussion in the context of a PRD meeting.
4. I have been told that because I am in my third year of teaching that I can only work with the Standard for Full Registration.
- There are no restrictions on what Standard(s) a teacher would wish to use. For some teachers, remaining with the SFR at this stage in their career may be appropriate. For others this would not be the case and moving on to the Career-Long Professional Learning Standard (SCLPL) would be more useful in developing their professional knowledge and actions. Looking at the Standards side by side can be very useful as it allows a teacher to compare two Standards and the subtle differences between them. The teacher can then decide which standard is more appropriate to their needs.
5. Each year a certain number of strands within the Standards have to be covered.
- This is not the case. The number of strands selected should reflect the focus of an individual's professional learning and practice. When making the decision about the nature and focus of their professional learning the teacher needs to consider what is realistic, relevant and achievable. If too many strands are chosen the learning will have little depth.
6. I have been told that you can only work with one Standard at a time.
- No this is not the case. It can be very useful to work across the Standards as this lets you see the progression and deepening of skills as they develop across the suite of standards. Using two standards allows a teacher to see where he/she is at present; what the next stage looks like and then consider what professional learning they would wish to undertake.
7. My headteacher will tell me what aspect of the Standard I should focus on.
- It is important that a teacher has ownership of his/her professional learning as he/she best knows what they need to learn and how this should best be done. This does not mean however that when using the Standards they are reflecting in isolation. A teacher is part of a community within the school and when he/she is reflecting against the Standards consideration must be given to not only the needs of the individual teacher but the school community as a whole and how this learning will improve the experience for the young people.
8. You have to make sure that you focus on a different aspect of the Standard every year.
- There is no requirement to do this. It is a question of balancing what you look at over time. On some occasions you will continue to focus on an aspect of a standard as you want to deepen your learning. On other occasions because priorities within the school change the focus for learning will change. Equally if you have had a change of class or remit you will look at the Standards differently.
9. As a fully registered teacher I don't have to worry about the values as I have gained the Standard for Full Registration.
- The values are not something that you achieve when you gain your full registration after which they should be taken for granted. Over a teaching career a teacher is expected to demonstrate the values in their everyday teaching; consider how their values can be embedded in their professional actions and explore ways of deepening their values throughout their career.
10. I don't need to focus on Learning for Sustainability as it's not part of the curriculum that I offer.
- Learning for Sustainability is embedded across the suite of standards and there is an expectation that all registered teachers irrespective of the sector in which they work, the subject which they teach or the level of post that they hold that they will make a contribution to Learning for Sustainability. By its nature, Learning for Sustainability naturally exists within Curriculum for Excellence and in interdisciplinary approaches and should not be viewed as an add on. Importantly Learning for Sustainability should not be viewed simply as an area of the curriculum but rather it should be regarded as a way of being and thinking about the world and our actions.
11. The leadership element of the Standards is there for promoted staff only.
- Leadership has been embedded across the suite of standards. This ranges from leading learning in the class on a daily basis to leading colleagues in collegiate activities or leading a stage department or school. Everyone one is expected to display leadership at a level appropriate to their post.