GTC Scotland

The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Comhairle Choitcheann Teagaisg na h-Alba

What keeps me in teaching

Six professionals on the passion, pride and pleasure that underscores their commitment to education

Everyone has their own reasons for staying in teaching. It’s a multi-faceted job with unique challenges and rewards. Among the factors that motivate teachers across the country are their sense of professionalism and professional values. Along with a determination to see the children in their care succeed, it’s this dedication that underpins their approach. Teaching Scotland asked teachers at Bellshill Academy and two of its cluster primaries what keeps them in teaching...



Previous experience includes: Teacher of Modern Studies, principal teacher roles

I have a passion for working with young people, colleagues, parents and the community, and that has stayed fresh and alive for all the years I’ve been in the job.

As a  teacher  and  a  principal teacher my focus was on improving opportunities  and  outcomes for  young  people,   particularly in the ways it related to my subject. I am very committed to teaching Modern Studies and still take a Higher class.

As a senior  manager  my  focus is on the whole child and interacting with the community. I get a great deal of pleasure from seeing young people come into the school, move through different stages and onto the world beyond.  It’s  good to see them come back too, as teachers, other staff and parents.

The professional values I hold most dear focus on a sense of moral purpose,  working  with my teams for every single young person – watching them grow and develop and doing your best to help them achieve what they’re capable of achieving. It is also about working across schools. Bellshill Academy has three fantastic cluster primaries and we do a lot of work with other high schools.

Our school motto is “Raising standards, transforming lives”. That sums it up for me and there’s nothing else I’d rather do.



Previous experience includes: Teacher of English, Geography, and Support for Learning, principal teacher role

I started my teaching career in my home country of Ireland in 2000 before coming to Scotland a year later.

What’s maintained my interest in the profession is the increasing importance and focus on health and wellbeing – it’s not just a bolt-on anymore but a fundamental part of everyday learning and teaching.

I enjoy that we are helping children to be ready for the world as it is today, not narrowly focusing on academic topics. I love teaching English and Geography but it’s very rewarding to work with young people and develop the whole person. You have the opportunity to be really creative and the changing nature of education keeps you on your mettle.

Unless you have a fundamental interest  in young people I don’t think you’ll ever be a successful educator. For me, it’s about having a real commitment to what we are trying to do. When I look at the rationale for curriculum design, I have to believe that what we are doing is the right thing. Professionalism is tied to what it means to me to be a teacher. If you are not out there to do the best for young people you won’t achieve your aims.

Professional values are underscored by a commitment to the wider community and to developing the young people of Scotland in a way that’s best for them and their life learning.



Previous experience includes: Teacher of  Science and Chemistry, Principal Teacher of Guidance

It’s the kids that keep me in the profession – they are brilliant. Every day is different and I try to help the children enjoy the subject, because if they enjoy it they will work hard. It gets me through the day having a bit of fun in the classroom.

What’s more, I’ve got a great passion for science and chemistry. I like to keep abreast of what’s happening and have a Kindle full of chemistry books. That enthusiasm helps because it’s transmitted to the kids. If you are passionate about a topic they think “There must be something good about this if he likes it so much.”

In science, the chance to do practical work is another positive. We try to get as many experiments into the teaching as we can. It breaks up the lesson, the kids really enjoy it and they learn so much from it.

Being a competitive person, I’m always striving for improvement. There is no such thing as the perfect teacher, so I’m always trying to up my game. Every time I teach a lesson I review my own performance. If I’m working as hard as I can, and trying to introduce new initiatives, including those learned from other teachers, it helps our kids get good results. And that’s the ultimate test of our professionalism.



Previous experience includes: nursery teaching, language and communications support

What keeps me interested is the variety. The children we get every year are different, the challenges they pose you and the pleasures they bring every day are different. You never have the same class twice and parents are always different. You’re never bored, that’s for sure.

I love my job and wouldn’t change it for anything. It’s great when you see you are making a difference. It is also seeing the positive outcomes for some of the children who come through our doors. It is always exciting and challenging, and it is all-consuming. You must come to it with a passion and a genuine interest in the children in your care.

We have a huge responsibility. I have children and I like to think that I treat the children who come into our care in the same way as I do my own. I try to stay true to what I believe in. Professional values are focused around moral integrity and making sure we do things right for every child. After all, most children only get one chance at each stage of education.


Previous experience includes: P3 teacher, cluster cover teacher

I really enjoy working with the little ones. In lots of ways you are their role model and they listen to every word that you say. It’s not just the children who appreciate you, but their parents too. It’s very gratifying on parents’ night when they express their thanks for the difference you have made to their child.

No two days  are  the  same  and I enjoy the challenges the job brings. Something unexpected can happen and you have to deal with it there and then.

Naturally, it’s important to treat everyone equally and it’s very rewarding when you get to know more about the children’s background and gain a greater understanding of their learning approach.

As far as professional values are concerned, it’s vital to give the children in your care the help and support that they need and treat them with respect. You must have a genuine interest in each and every child. I’ve found that even the smallest gestures can help children find self-confidence and belief in themselves.



Previous experience includes: P2 teacher

Before coming into teaching 10 years ago I was an electrician and worked in electrical sales. I was lucky enough to get a place on a flexible course at Stirling University. I gained a degree in business management and wanted to put it to good use so did a postgraduate teaching qualification at Jordanhill.

I love the interaction with the kids. Until two years ago I was working with the infants, which I enjoyed. Now, I am working with the older age group and perhaps enjoy that even more.

In terms of professional values I like to see that I’m making a difference. It’s fascinating to observe what children can and what they can’t do. I love to see their progression, their different learning styles and the way that I can adapt my approach to help them learn. Professionalism isn’t solely about the individual teacher – it is important for every school to have a good staff team and good management.

My route into the profession has been different but I think that’s useful, particularly when it comes to Curriculum for Excellence. The life skills I’ve gained can be put to good use to benefit the children that I teach.