The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Enhancing professionalism in education since 1965

About the Standards


The following short animated videos provide a brief introduction to the GTCS Professional Standards. These Standards were launched in August 2013.

If you are having problems accessing the video, please click on the link below:

Professional Standards - About the Standards (WMV, 23MB)

You can also download the above video at a higher resolution by right clicking on the link below and selecting 'Save target as':

Professional Standards - About the Standards (MP4, 130MB)

We have created a compilation video which incorporates all aspects of the full suite of GTCS Professional Standards. You can view the compilation video below:

GTCS Suite of Standards - Compilation (WMV, 51MB)

You can also download the above video at a higher resolution by right clicking on the link below and selecting 'Save target as':

GTCS Suite of Standards - Compilation (MP4, 253MB)

The Revised Standards

The revised Professional Standards were approved at a full meeting of the GTCS Council, held on Wednesday 5 December 2012. Further guidance and support material is available throughout our Standards pages.

Our suite of Professional Standards have been revised in light of changing contexts within education and society. These complex, dynamic contexts mean that teachers in the 21st century need to be critically informed with professional values, knowledge and actions that ensure positive impact on learners and learning.

The revised suite of Professional Standards provides an opportunity to think differently about the purpose of Standards. The Standards for Registration provide a gate-keeping function for entry into teaching in Scotland and it should be noted that Full Registration continues to be the baseline Professional Standard for Competence. However, the other Standards go beyond the traditional view of a Standard as a benchmark of teacher competence, a concept which only applies to the Standards for Registration. For teachers who have achieved the Standard for Full Registration, we have developed Standards which offer constructive support for teachers as they consider how they might develop their professional knowledge and skills through on-going self-evaluation and professional learning.

Recognising the established strength of the teaching profession in Scotland as a secure platform on which to build, Teaching Scotland's Future (Scottish Government, 2011) affirmed the need to revise the Professional Standards. These revised standards support the creation of a reinvigorated approach to 21st century teacher professionalism, recognising the importance of teacher responsibility for, and ownership of, their professional learning. The teaching profession, working in partnership with other professions, has a moral imperative to secure the best learning opportunities and experiences for all learners in Scotland.

This reinvigorated approach to 21st century teacher professionalism is intended to "build the capacity of teachers, irrespective of career stage, to have high levels of pedagogical expertise, including deep knowledge of what they are teaching; to be self-evaluative; to be able to work in partnership with other professionals; and to engage directly with well-researched innovation." (Teaching Scotland's Future, 2011, p19)

Using the Standards

The suite of standards will be used for multiple purposes, including:

  • providing benchmarks for entry into the teaching profession
  • providing a benchmark for teacher competence (Standard for Full Registration)
  • providing a continuum for career-long learning and professional development
  • providing a framework for self-evaluation and reflection
  • designing and assessing professional learning programmes, including award bearing programmes
  • assisting with recruitment and selection processes
  • supporting teachers working in other educational settings, adapted as appropriate
  • informing discussion and debate about teacher standards and professionalism
  • informing Professional Review and Development (PRD) and Professional Update
  • informing discussion, debate and public expectations about teaching standards in schools and the wider education system

In addition, we use the Professional Standards to accredit programmes of study.

The Structure of the Suite of Professional Standards

This suite of Professional Standards provides a framework for teachers to examine, inform, and continually develop their thinking and practice. The suite includes:

  • The Standards for Registration (incorporating Provisional and Full Registration)
  • The Standard for Career-Long Professional Learning
  • The Standards for Leadership and Management (incorporating Middle Leadership
    and Headship)

You can view the revised Professional Standards below:

Within this suite of Professional Standards there are a number of key themes.

Professional Values and Personal Commitment

Democratic values are at the heart of Scottish society. Therefore, Professional Values and Personal Commitment are at the core of this suite of Standards. They are integral to, and demonstrated through, all our professional relationships and practices. For the first time, the same values are replicated across each standard, in recognition that these are the same for all teachers, irrespective of experience and stage in career.


We recognise that effective leadership depends on the principles of collegiality. All teachers have opportunities to be leaders. They lead learning for, and with, all learners with whom they engage. They also work with and support the development of colleagues and other partners. Different forms of leadership are expressed across the suite of Professional Standards including leadership for learning, teacher leadership and working collegiately to build leadership capacity in others.

Registration and Standards Rules

The new suite of GTCS Professional Standards has had a minor impact on the content of the Registration and Standards Rules. These Rules, amongst other things, set out the criteria for registration as well as criteria for the award of the Standard for Headship.

The Rules will be updated in due course alongside changes required for the introduction of Professional Update. In the meantime, please note that:

  • references in the Rules to the 'Standard for Initial Teacher Education' should be interpreted as the 'Standard for Provisional Registration'; and
  • references in the Rules to the 'Standard for Headship' should be interpreted with reference to the relevant sections of the 'Standards for Leadership and Management'.


We have been working in partnership with the education community to revise our Professional Standards for teachers. The revised Professional Standards were approved at a full meeting of our Council on 5 December 2012 and came into effect on 1 August 2013.

1. What are the Professional Standards for?
2. Why do they matter to teachers?
3. Why did GTC Scotland revise the Professional Standards?
4. Who was involved in developing the new Professional Standards?
5. What are the aims of the GTC Scotland Professional Standards?
6. How was the profession consulted on in relation to the revised Standards?
7. How will I use the GTC Scotland Professional Standards?
8. Where can I find out more information?


For further information about our Professional Standards, contact:

T: +44 (0)131 314 6000