GTC Scotland

The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Comhairle Choitcheann Teagaisg na h-Alba

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Fitness to Teach

GTC Scotland is required to ensure that our registrants meet the level of professional conduct and competence necessary for them to do their job safely and effectively in line with the Code of Professionalism and Conduct (COPAC) and relevant Professional Standards.

The Fitness to Teach process ensures that we have a teaching profession in Scotland that is and remains fit to teach, so that public trust and confidence in lecturers and teachers is maintained and student learning is of a high quality.

When required to be instigated, the process is supportive, fair and proportionate. We investigate referrals about registered lecturers and teachers through our fitness to teach policy and procedures and we act only where necessary.

What is the fitness to teach process?

The fitness to teach process is in place to ensure public protection and maintain proper teaching standards.

We investigate and make decisions about a registered lecturer or teacher’s fitness to teach in line with our Fitness to Teach Rules (which also set out the process followed).

Our Fitness to Teach Threshold Policy explains what we investigate - we only investigate where an allegation is of a level of seriousness that the lecturer or teacher presents a risk of harm.

Action is taken if a lecturer or teacher's fitness to teach is found to be impaired because of shortfalls in their conduct or professional competence. Fitness to Teach Hearings are held and Consent Orders issued in this context. With its focus on ensuring maintenance of teaching standards, our fitness to teach process is distinct from any employer or criminal process that may also be followed.

What does being "fit to teach" mean?

Being fit to teach means meeting the standards of professional competence and conduct that GTCS expect. The Professional Standards for Lecturers in Scotland's Colleges and Code of Professionalism and Conduct set out these expectations.

We could sum it up by saying that it means having the right knowledge and skills (and applying them) and doing the right thing as a professional lecturer or teacher. It does not mean being fit to teach in terms of health/medical fitness.

When does GTCS investigate the fitness to teach of a lecturer?

We investigate when there is a realistic prospect that a lecturer’s fitness to teach would be found to be impaired based on an allegation or information that has been referred to us. We receive fitness to teach referrals from the police and other criminal justice agencies, employers and members of the public.

Our Fitness to Teach Threshold Policy explains more about what we investigate under our fitness to teach process. This policy is applied when GTCS receives a fitness to teach referral.

We approach assessing whether fitness to teach is impaired holistically in the here and now. We look at the shortfalls in conduct or professional competence identified alongside where the lecturer is now. This includes considering what steps have been taken by the lecturer to openly and honestly reflect on the issues, learn from them and make changes to ensure they will not happen again.

While there are times when the shortfalls identified are so fundamental that there is no scope for remediation in this way, our approach recognises that we all make mistakes and is about providing assurance that those same mistakes will not be repeated so that the public (especially students) are not harmed and trust and confidence in the teaching profession is maintained.