GTC Scotland

The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Learning from Professional Update

The key findings from GTC Scotland’s five-year longitudinal study into Professional Update.

Since 2014, GTC Scotland has conducted an annual survey of teachers who have engaged in Professional Update (PU) and completed their sign off. The survey seeks to explore, understand and evaluate the PU process, and highlight where GTC Scotland can offer additional support.

Following completion of the final cycle (of the first five years) of the national implementation of PU in session 2018/19, the results of these annual surveys have now been collated and analysed in a five-year longitudinal study. The findings offer insights into the experiences of registrants as they engage in the PU process.

Over 5,400 teachers responded to the surveys. The study found that:

  • 94% of teachers said that their professional learning had an impact on their learners.
  • 96% believed their professional learning has a large or some impact on themselves.
  • 85% reported that their professional learning has a large or some impact on their school.
  • 79% indicated that their professional learning has a large or some impact on their colleagues.
    Pu diagram-small

Common themes from the study:

  1. A culture of professional learning offers teachers the opportunity to work collaboratively with others and reflect and learn together. Collaborative learning is the main type of professional learning teachers engage in and is highly valued.
  2. Professional Standards are considered a touchstone for teacher professionalism. The Standard for Career-Long Professional Learning is used by most teachers as a very useful self-evaluation tool, alongside other policy documents.
  3. The Professional Review and Development (PRD) process is undertaken by the majority of teachers. Those who have an effective PRD enjoy support and challenge that is helpful to their continuing development. However, there is a body of evidence that suggests that more professional learning in coaching is required for reviewers.
  4. Most teachers feel they are well supported by school leaders and local authorities in the PU process, with the exception of supply teachers, who require more specific support.

Additional support

Following the study, GTC Scotland created an action plan which will look to provide:

  • Further engagement to ensure all registrants understand their roles and responsibilities in the PRD process.
  • Continued support and promotion of professional learning in coaching approaches to ensure high-quality
  • PRD for all registrants, in collaboration with partners.
  • Guidance on the use of the refreshed Professional Standards.
  • Additional resources that can support teachers to understand the why, how and what of evidence of impact.
  • Resources to support registrants to engage with the principles and practices of collaborative learning.

Learning for Sustainability principles and practices

As we continue to work on the Professional Standards 2021, one key point of feedback was embedding pedagogies, such as inclusion, global citizenship and outdoor learning – all key elements of Learning for Sustainability. Visit EBSCO via MyGTCS to find relevant research, books and more.