GTC Scotland publishes five-year insight report into Fitness to Teach

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The General Teaching Council for Scotland, the independent regulator for teachers in Scotland, has published a five-year insight report on our work investigating conduct and professional competence concerns raised with us about teachers between 2018 and 2023.

What we do

Our communities place a high degree of trust in teachers. They rely on teachers to interpret what is right and wrong, keep learners safe and be positive role models. GTC Scotland’s role is to set, uphold and promote high standards for Scotland’s teaching profession. We investigate serious concerns that are referred to us about teachers on our Register through our Fitness to Teach process. This process is about ensuring that teaching standards – the Code of Professionalism and Conduct and Standards for Registration – are upheld. It focuses on future prevention of risk.

We investigate when an allegation is of a level of seriousness that we think the teacher is a risk to learners and/or colleagues. We also investigate where we think there is a potential risk to public confidence in the teaching profession. Referrals usually come from employers, Disclosure Scotland and members of the public. Teachers and college lecturers may also refer themselves.

Ensuring trusted teaching

Jennifer Macdonald, Strategic Director, GTC Scotland said:

This is the first time that we have been able to analyse data that we hold from more than 1,000 Fitness to Teach cases and consider what it tells us. The overwhelming majority of those on our Register are fit to teach; less than 0.3 percent of more than 81,000 teachers have concerns raised about them each year – that’s about 200 people. The number we remove from, or refuse entry to, our Register for Fitness to Teach reasons is even smaller – an average of 25 people each year.
We do a lot to facilitate participation in the Fitness to Teach process and we are continuing to focus on encouraging teachers to reflect and engage with us at an early stage when concerns are raised about them. If we are satisfied that a person has insight into the reasons for and/ or impact of their actions and has taken steps to address them since concerns arose, we can be more confident it will not happen again or pose a future risk to the public. This helps us to ensure we are focusing on the cases we should, as a professional regulator, so we can conclude cases sooner.
The Covid pandemic significantly impacted our Fitness to Teach work. We are still recovering the caseload from that impact, as well as other challenges that we experienced at the same time, particularly in relation to information sharing and cooperation in our process. We have reduced the caseload in the last year, and we will continue to work with our partners to deliver changes in the coming years to reduce the time that cases take, in the interests of everyone involved.
We are extremely grateful for the support and constructive challenge we receive from all our partners, and to our colleagues and Fitness to Teach panel members for all they do, as we work to reduce the caseload and deliver improvements to our Fitness to Teach function to promote and ensure trust in the teaching profession.

Continual improvement

We are always looking for ways to make our Fitness to Teach process as efficient as it can be while meeting the public interest. Our Fitness to Teach rules set out the legal process followed in our fitness to teach work and later this year we will ask for views on changes we should make to the rules to ensure they are up to date and fit for the future.