The General Teaching Council for Scotland

PRD Myths and Legends

There are no expectations from GTCS to the amount of information recorded in professional learning records. Each local authority/ employer has locally agreed policies that determine what their teachers should be doing. It is always wise to be familiar with local policies to fully understand what is expected. GTCS would advocate that only significant pieces of professional learning are recorded, where due consideration is given to the impact of that learning through evidence gathered. Teachers should be trusted by their line managers to be engaged in all compulsory training, and as a result of ongoing professional dialogue throughout the year, be familiar with the professional learning that their colleagues are undertaking.

Professional learning should be meaningful and relevant to teachers in their context. This may mean that some, or even all, of the professional learning undertaken will come directly from the school improvement plan, but it may also derive from specific circumstances arising that require you to focus on more personalised professional learning.  Professional learning should be impactful on learning and teaching or leadership and should help teachers to continually develop their practice. Through discussions with reviewers, teachers’ next steps in professional learning can be identified and discussed to best meet the reviewee’s needs.

Areas for development are identified and agreed with your reviewer through the PRD discussion and should reflect your current context. Circumstances during the previous session may have changed e.g. change of post or long-term absence and the previously agreed areas for development may not have been completed or deemed relevant. Perhaps the professional learning undertaken has been so interesting and stimulating that decisions are made to continue with the same area for development into the next school session. As long as professional learning is meaningful and is having a positive impact there is no requirement to change areas for development. Again, local policies will ultimately determine the expectations in their local authority/ schools.

PRD is an integral aspect of Professional Update.  All teachers should engage in their entitlement to PRD every year. When this is the case, the PU sign off year is simply the usual PRD process with an additional pressing of a few buttons on the keyboard to ‘sign-off’ and confirm the teacher’s engagement in ongoing professional learning. 

All local authorities have arrangements in place to support supply teachers with PU and PRD. Supply teachers have the responsibility to ensure they access PRDs and should contact their local authority/ school PU Lead Officer for advice on who they should approach. This can be challenging when a supply teacher works across numerous local authorities. Equally, it would be perfectly reasonable and appropriate to ask a member of the senior leadership team in a school with whom they frequently carry out supply work, to support them in their PRD conversations. Every effort should be made to engage in PRD on an annual basis

GTCS does not stipulate a specific time of year that PRD and PU should take place. Most local authorities and employers undertake PRD near the end of the school year for a variety of reasons. Other local authorities undertake their PRDs at the start of the school year to inform their wider professional learning opportunities available across the locale. Local authorities and employers should review local agreements to ensure the timings of both PRD and PU are supportive to the contextual needs of their schools and teachers. 

GTCS would encourage PRD and PU to be carried out at varying times throughout the school session to avoid overloading of digital systems which can at times cause difficulties for some.

Teachers will sign off in the following years confirming their engagement and every five years thereafter.

  • 2018/19 - registrants with the following registration numbers x3xxxx and x8xxxx
  • 2019/20 - registrants with the following registration numbers x9xxxx and x4xxxx 
  • 2020/21 - registrants with the following registration numbers x0xxxx and x5xxxx 
  • 2021/22 - registrants with the following registration numbers x1xxxx and x6xxxx 
  • 2022/23 - registrants with the following registration numbers x2xxxx and x7xxxx

Each year teachers will engage in professional learning in various formats and timescales. There is no required number of professional learning activities that teachers have for PU, however assumptions will be made that teachers have engaged in three pieces of meaningful professional learning each year, of which they discuss reflections and impact during their PRD, leading to sign-off.  There is an expectation that teachers will complete 35 hours of professional learning (pro-rata for part-time staff) and that the focus is agreed with their reviewer as part of the PRD process.

Evidence can be gathered from many sources and in many ways. There is no requirement to keep extensive amounts of evidence for your professional learning records, however, depending on the professional learning being undertaken, there may be requirements to gather substantial evidence to determine the impact the learning has had on learners.

This is not the case. Your learning can be shared through discussing your reflections and thoughts and how the learning has impacted on your thinking, teaching approaches and expectations. 

This is most definitely not the case. Different professional learning will influence different amounts and varied types of evidence.

This should be avoided at all costs and local authorities and employers should ensure that measures are taken to avoid this happening. 

The Professional Standards are not to be seen as a checklist. Teachers should reflect across the Professional Standards and identify where they have strengths and/or areas of expertise, and areas where there may be a need for further professional development. 

LNCT agreements/ policies for your local authority will advise on the arrangements and expectations for teachers to share their professional learning records with their reviewers. 

Where MyPL is used for recording professional learning the teacher can select the records they wish to share for discussion with their reviewer. In the year of PU sign off there is no requirement to share 5 years’ worth of records with your reviewer, only selected entries from the current record would be shared and/or discussed, as per local policy.

If you are worried about any aspect of Professional Update you should discuss this with your line manager at the earliest opportunity. The focus and areas for development for your professional learning should have been agreed in advance with your reviewer as part of the PRD process but if circumstances dictate a change in focus you should discuss this with your reviewer. If you haven’t participated in planned PL activities due to illness or absence you can contact your reviewer to request a deferral of your PU sign off. 

GTCS operates a Professional Update Validation with local authorities and employers to ensure that there are systems in place to support senior leaders and reviewers with Professional Update. Through this process GTCS delegates responsibility to reviewers to confirm or ‘sign-off’ your review. If you don’t agree with the decision made by your reviewer your local policy will contain information about the appeals process.

As part of the annual evaluation of the Professional Update process there will be a 1% sampling of the Reflective Professional Learning Records of the registrants who have signed off. This sample will also be representative of the various categories of posts which exist across registrants.  Information held on the MyGTCS, SOPRA, Gateway and bespoke systems will be gathered and analysed in order to provide an insight into the patterns and trends of professional learning across local authorities, institutions, organisations and nationally and provide useful information in terms of  the contribution of Professional Learning to the national agenda.  There will also be a 1% sampling of sign offs each year in order to check for consistency of application of the principles of Professional Update.

Your learning and teaching should not be judged during your PRD/ PU. If line managers have concerns about learning and teaching then these should be addressed through other support mechanisms, conversations and perhaps ultimately HR processes. The focus of PRD and PU is the teacher’s commitment to ongoing professional learning.

LNCT agreements and policies for your local authority will give guidance around any documentation that is required. GTC Scotland have expressed that the process should not be overly bureaucratic and there should be no duplication required across systems. Reviewees may wish to self-reflect using a coaching wheel, or other model, and may use this to support and direct the professional learning conversation and support the identification of any potential next steps. The importance of PRD is the quality of the professional learning conversation, and not the paperwork. The records are there only as an aide memoire, nothing else, and concise, reflective entries should be recorded for significant activities only.