GTC Scotland

The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Comhairle Choitcheann Teagaisg na h-Alba

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Professional Update

Professional Update (PU) requires all lecturers registered with GTC Scotland to prioritise, record and reflect on their career-long professional learning and for this to be regularly discussed within Professional Review and Development (PRD) processes with line managers (reviewers).

Registrants are required to self-evaluate against the Professional Standards to inform and identify professional learning, and maintain a reflective record of that learning and its impact. The PRD process is an integral aspect of Professional Update. Professional learning considered most impactful should be recorded within a registrant's MyPL profile (and/or another system agreed with colleges as part of GTC Scotland's PU validation process).

Every five years registered lecturers and their line managers (reviewers) are required to confirm their ongoing engagement with professional learning to GTC Scotland, through an online PU ‘sign-off’ process using the GTC Scotland MyPL service. PU is an ongoing process throughout a lecturer’s career that is required in order to maintain full (general) registration status with GTC Scotland.

The steps involved in Professional Update

We recognise that as well as working in colleges, lecturers may also be employed (and self-employed) in a variety of settings such as schools, the community and industry. As part of your responsibilities as a registered lecturer you must ensure your registration details are accurate and up to date on the GTC Scotland Register of Teachers. This requires an annual check of your personal and employment details held on your MyGTCS account, and updating them when appropriate.

You should have created your MyGTCS account when you received confirmation of your registration with GTC Scotland. If you haven’t yet done this please create your MyGTCS account; it only takes a matter of minutes.

Professional learning for lecturers is meaningful learning which develops thinking, knowledge and skills. It often involves learning with and from others and is aligned to the needs of students from diverse communities across Scotland and internationally.

Key to meaningful professional learning is that it should be felt to be impactful on a lecturer’s thinking and practice and on students' learning.

There is a common misconception that professional learning only relates to formal ‘learning’ events such as attending an industry conference, workshop or completing an accredited training programme (often with a focus on how many ‘hours’ were completed).

In practice, valuable professional learning includes a much wider range of experiences. These may take advantage of local or national expertise, be experienced individually or collaboratively, take place over the short or long term and can be organised through formal or more informal methods.

Examples of professional learning activities could include:

  • Work shadowing
  • Co-operative or team teaching
  • Digital learning to enhance blended/remote learning and teaching
  • Planning learning which is inter-disciplinary
  • Employer/industry engagement
  • Participation in activities relating to assessment and moderation
  • Secondments, acting posts and placements
  • Masters level study
  • Accredited courses or activity related to achieving national professional standards for lecturers
  • Industry/academic conferences
  • Self-evaluation and critical reflection processes
  • Action learning
  • Enquiry-based learning
  • Professional dialogue with colleagues, other professionals, employers and learners
  • Critical analysis of focused professional reading and research
  • Engaging in practitioner enquiry/action research
  • Learning about aspects of curriculum or pedagogical practice
  • Peer support e.g. coaching or mentoring
  • Observation of learning
  • Online learning/blogs

Click here for more information on Professional Learning for College Lecturers

Self-evaluation can take many forms and may occur at various stages in the professional learning journey. The Professional Standards for Lecturers in Scotland's Colleges are one key reference, but other sources may also form part of your self-evaluation. For instance a focus on areas for development within a Professional Review and Development (PRD) discussion with your line manager (reviewer) or your department/team or college’s strategic development plan.

Self-evaluation should be a valuable process that is rigorous and enables you to be critically reflective about yourself as a professional and your practice.

Self-evaluation should support you to:

  • reflect on what you have done
  • think about what you might do next
  • consider your progress and development
  • deeply understand your professional practice, your professional learning and the impact of this on your: thinking; professional actions; students and their learning; and on those you work with and support

Self-evaluation will involve:

  • asking deep and searching questions about self and practice
  • using the Professional Standards for Lecturers in Scotland's Colleges to inform and guide your reflections
  • using other influencing factors such as your college or department/team’s development plan; other relevant standards or targets; issues relevant to your particular context
  • using your ongoing reflections and enquiry into practice
  • considering the needs of learners/colleagues in your context
  • using evidence from a range of sources to inform and support your self-evaluation

Effective self-evaluation will enable you to:

  • plan for meaningful professional learning
  • engage in critically reflective dialogue as part of the Professional Review and Development (PRD) process
  • identify and focus on areas you wish to develop expertise or accomplishment
  • consider your career planning

A key part of being a professionally registered lecturer is a responsibility to ensure you engage in professional learning throughout your career, maintain a reflective record of professional learning and note evidence of its impact on your thinking and professional actions. This must be discussed with your line manager (reviewer) at least once per year, as part of the Professional Review and Development (PRD) process.

During your PRD discussion it is not expected that you will record and reflect upon every professional learning experience you have engaged with but rather that you focus on examples of professional learning which you have found to be most impactful.

In your reflection, discuss what impact your professional learning has had on you as a professional, on your learners, colleagues, college, community and industry.

Click here for further information on PRD.

GTC Scotland has developed an online professional learning service called MyPL to support the recording of a registrants reflective record of professional learning and PRD discussions. All registered lecturers are encouraged to engage with the wide variety of resources available to them through this online professional learning service.

Professional learning considered most impactful should be recorded within a registrant’s MyPL profile (and/or another system agreed with colleges as part of GTC Scotland PU validation processes).

MyPL is an online resource that allows you as a registered lecturer to record your professional learning and associated evidence. MyPL is accessed through MyGTCS.

It aims to support your professional development by offering a range of tools to record Professional Review and Development (PRD) conversations and professional learning activities, identify areas of development, and reflect on the impact of your learning based on evidence.

MyPL has six connected areas:

  1. Professional Review and Development (PRD) where you can record discussions and reflections on your annual PRD meetings.
  2. Areas for development where you can record areas you have identified for development which will inform your professional learning planning.
  3. Professional Learning (PL) where you can manage and reflect on your professional learning activities.
  4. Professional Update (PU) where you will find information on your required ‘sign-off year’. This is when your reviewer must verify your professional learning and PRD records.
  5. Employment and Qualifications where you can record and update your employment history and qualifications and create a CV.
  6. Resources where you can access a range of free resources to support your professional learning.

Where a college has an existing, GTC Scotland validated PRD system in place, the college will provide guidance to registered lecturers on the recording system to be used which allow an opportunity for the lecturer to engage in ongoing self-evaluation using the relevant Professional Standards. There is no requirement for a lecturer to duplicate information in MyPL, however, the five-yearly 'sign-off' must take place within MyPL.

Five years after you have attained full registration and every five years thereafter you and your line manager (reviewer) are expected to confirm your engagement in professional learning to GTC Scotland. This is referred to as the Professional Update ‘sign-off year’.

The ‘sign-off’ must be completed through MyPL. Lecturers will receive confirmation and user guidance from their employer about the system they should use for recording and how they must use MyPL for 'sign-off'.

To be able to complete this important step, the lecturer’s line manager (reviewer) must either be a GTC Scotland registrant or apply for Non-Registered Manager status and be approved as a reviewer. To apply for Non-Registered Manager status, please send details of the Non-Registered Manager (reviewer) to: professional.update@gtcs.org.uk

Registrants not currently in employment, or working outwith the education system, will be able to make a submission directly to GTC Scotland. If this applies to you, contact professional.update@gtcs.org.uk for further information.

We recognise that there will be circumstances which make completion of the Professional Update process within the designated timescale difficult, and it might be necessary to bring forward or to defer the five-year sign-off period.

These circumstances may include:

  • career breaks
  • extended illness
  • maternity/ paternity/ adoption leave
  • occasional supply work.

If you are unable to complete the process in the designated year, you have the opportunity to request a deferral or bring forward. You should make this request to your line manager (reviewer) who will notify GTC Scotland of their decision (via MyPL where this is used).

Deferrals will normally be granted for one year. For information please contact us at professional.update@gtcs.org.uk

Fully registered college lecturers not currently in employment or working in a non-validated college and seeking deferral/bringing forward of the Professional Update sign-off process will be required to notify GTC Scotland directly, outlining the reasons for the proposed change/deferral, and the expected length of the deferral/bring forward. This should be done by sending an e-mail to: professional.update@gtcs.org.uk.

College lecturers who do not work for an employer that is validated for Professional Update (PU) can maintain full registration through engagement in PU, recording reflective professional learning through MyPL. Five-yearly sign-off can be completed through the Direct Submission (DS) Process.

Individuals will be required to:

  • Annually update personal details, including employment details, in your MyGTCS account;
  • Engage in ongoing professional learning and PRD (if available through your employer) as appropriate to post/context;
  • Self-evaluation against the appropriate Professional Standards;
  • Maintain an ongoing reflective professional learning record and associated evidence of impact, and;
  • Complete the five-yearly sign-off by following the direct submission process.

Who can make a Direct Submission?

If you are not working with an employer with a PRD process validated by GTC Scotland, you can make a DS. This includes those who are:

  • Living and/or working in England, Ireland, Wales or overseas
  • Working in an Early Learning or childcare context
  • Working within education services within non-traditional contexts such as museums, NHS etc
  • Working for a professional association or trade union
  • Not currently working, but still engaged in professional learning.

If you are unsure if you meet the criteria for making a Direct Submission, please contact professional.update@gtcs.org.uk for guidance.

I am currently absent from work. Can I make a Direct Submission?

If you are currently absent from work as a result of illness or maternity/paternity leave you should not make a DS. Please contact your line manager and request a deferral of your PU sign off. More information can be found in the above section 'Deferring, or bringing forward, the PU process'.

I’m a supply teacher, can I make a Direct Submission?

Supply teachers would not normally make a DS. Every local authority employer has a process to support supply teachers through their PU and PRD process. If you need advice on who to contact for support within your local authority please contact professional.update@gtcs.org.uk

If you are not currently on a supply register, or haven’t worked within the current academic year please contact professional.update@gtcs.org.uk for guidance.

Do I need to identify a reviewer when submitting a Direct Submission?

GTC Scotland acts as your reviewer in the DS process so you are not required to identify a reviewer.  When you make a DS to the PU Team a panel of Senior Education Officers will make the decision to confirm your PU sign-off. By making a DS you are giving consent to share your PL records on MyPL with GTC Scotland.

When should I make my Direct Submission?

You will have a designated year for your PU sign-off. You can check this on your MyGTCS account. Once you have logged in you will see your sign-off year under Registration Details and Professional Update.

You can make your DS at any point during the academic session with a deadline of 1 July each academic year. We recommend making your submission in advance of the deadline to allow for any supplementary information that may be required.

I’m not working in Scotland. Is Direct Submission my only option?

If you wish to retain Full (General) registration with GTC Scotland, then a DS at your five-year sign-off is required.

However, you may wish to consider changing your registration to Full (Associate). This level of registration does not require engagement in PU. Please note that you cannot teach in a Scottish School (including the independent sector) with this level of registration and lecturers in Scotland’s Colleges require full registration.

The Full (Associate) level of registration may be appropriate for those who:

  • have retired from their post within education and will not engage in any further teaching
  • are not currently working or not working in an educational context which requires full registration
  • are working outside Scotland with no plans to return within the foreseeable future

If you would like to discuss Fully Registered (Associate) status for your current context with a member of the Professional Update Team, please email professional.update@gtcs.org.uk. Please include your registration number and a contact telephone number so that we may arrange a callback at a convenient time. You will also find further details here: Associate and General Status

How do I make a Direct Submission?

To complete the five-yearly sign-off, you will be required to complete a Direct Submission via your online professional learning record, MyPL.

To do this:

  • Log in to your MyGTCS account. If you do not have a MyGTCS account, you can create an account here.
  • You should now be able to see the MyPL icon. Click on this icon. If you do not see a MyPL icon, please contact professional.update@gtcs.org.uk.

    MyPL Icon

  • Add your Professional Learning records and two to three Areas for Development as outlined in this MyPL Direct Submission Guidance (PDF) which is also available in MyPL's Need Help section.
  • Once you have finished recording your professional learning records and areas for development, please click on the Professional Update section in the menu. Click on the Direct Submission button to notify GTC Scotland that you are submitting your records for sign-off.

    MyPL Direct Submission Button

When you click the Direct Submission button, the following pop-up will ask you to confirm that you have completed everything necessary to sign-off for PU. Click Confirm.

MyPL Direct Submission Pop-up

Once you have clicked Confirm, your Professional Update screen will change to show you have submitted for Direct Submission.

MyPL Direct Submission Confirmed

How will I know if my Direct Submission has been successful and how long before a decision is made?

DS Evaluation Panels are held monthly so you will usually hear a response within four weeks. This may be slightly longer if you submit your application on or immediately prior to 1 July. You will receive an email communication which will either confirm your PU sign off, or GTC Scotland will provide you with feedback and may request supplementary information.

Please ensure that your email contact details are correctly entered on your MyGTCS account.

Flowchart: Direct Submission process for lecturers in a non-validated PRD/ PU system

Direct Submission process for teachers

You could also see this image as a PDF here.