GTC Scotland

The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Comhairle Choitcheann Teagaisg na h-Alba

Overview of the Standards

It can be a little daunting to try and get into all of the Standards and see the connections across the Standards. In this section we have provided a summary overview of:

  • The Professional Knowledge, Understanding, Skills & Abilities
  • The Professional Actions

As identified across all three Standards. It is really important to note that these are just high level summaries and the Standards provide greater depth of detail of what these areas mean, particularly in relation to the Professional Actions. We hope this is a helpful summary and can act as a useful signposting into the Standards.

This overview provides a high level summary of the overarching areas of Professional Knowledge, Understanding, Skills and Abilities addressed in the GTCS Professional Standards. The key areas of Professional Actions are then identified. However, these are broad statements of Professional Action that are unpicked in more detail in The Standards. It is essential that you become familiar with these and explore them in relation to your own knowledge, understanding and practice.

The Standards for Registration (Provisional and Full) The Standard for Career-Long Professional Learning The Standards for Leadership and Management
  • Social Justice
    • Embracing locally and globally the educational and social values of sustainability, equality and justice and recognising the rights and responsibilities of future as well as current generations.
    • Committing to the principles of democracy and social justice through fair, transparent, inclusive and sustainable policies and practices in relation to: age, disability, gender and gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion and belief and sexual orientation.
    • Valuing as well as respecting social, cultural and ecological diversity and promoting the principles and practices of local and global citizenship for all learners.
    • Demonstrating a commitment to engaging learners in real world issues to enhance learning experiences and outcomes, and to encourage learning our way to a better future.
    • Respecting the rights of all learners as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and their entitlement to be included in decisions regarding their learning experiences and have all aspects of their well-being developed and supported.
  • Integrity
    • Demonstrating openness, honesty, courage and wisdom.
    • Critically examining personal and professional attitudes and beliefs and challenging assumptions and professional practice.
    • Critically examining the connections between personal and professional attitudes and beliefs, values and practices to effect improvement and, when appropriate, bring about transformative change in practice.
  • Trust and Respect
    • Acting and behaving in ways that develop a culture of trust and respect through, for example, being trusting and respectful of others within the school, and with all those involved in influencing the lives of learners in and beyond the learning community.
    • Providing and ensuring a safe and secure environment for all learners within a caring and compassionate ethos and with an understanding of wellbeing.
    • Demonstrating a commitment to motivating and inspiring learners, acknowledging their social and economic context, individuality and specific learning needs and taking into consideration barriers to learning.
  • Professional Commitment
    • Engaging with all aspects of professional practice and working collegiately with all members of our educational communities with enthusiasm, adaptability and constructive criticality.
    • Committing to lifelong enquiry, learning, professional development and leadership as core aspects of professionalism and collaborative practice.

Professional Knowledge and Understanding, Professional Skills and Abilities

Professional Knowledge and Understanding, Professional Skills and Abilities

Strategic Vision, Professional Knowledge and Understanding, Interpersonal Skills and Abilities 

Professional Knowledge & Understanding:

  • Curriculum
  • Education systems and professional responsibilities
  • Pedagogical theories and practice

Professional Skills and Abilities:

Teaching and learning

  • Classroom organisation and management
  • Pupil assessment
  • Professional reflection and communication

Teachers should develop deep, critically informed Professional Knowledge and Understanding in:

  • pedagogy, learning and subject knowledge;
  • curriculum and assessment;
  • enquiry and research;
  • educational contexts and current debates in policy, and educational practice;
  • sustaining and developing professional learning;
  • learning for sustainability.

Teachers should develop & apply their knowledge and professional Skills & abilities and expertise through enquiry and sustained professional learning to:

  • deepen curricular and pedagogical knowledge to lead learning;
  • question & ensure practice is critically informed
  • investigate, analyse and evaluate impact;
  • critically question assumptions, beliefs & values of self & system;
  • engage with literature, research and policy to inform & challenge practice;
  • work collaboratively across disciplines, communities & professions

Strategic vision

Professional Knowledge and Understanding in:

  • teaching and learning;
  • education policy;
  • social and environmental trends;
  • leadership and management

Interpersonal skills and abilities in:

  • self awareness and motivating others;
  • judging wisely and appropriately;
  • communicating effectively;
  • demonstrating political insight.

This table shows a broad summary of the Professional Actions across all the Standards. These are unpicked in more detail within The Standards. It is essential that you become familiar with these and explore them in relation to your own knowledge, understanding and practice. This summary is provided as a useful introduction to the key areas.

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

Professional Actions

Professional Actions

Professional Actions


Have knowledge and understanding of:

  • the nature of the curriculum and its development
  • the relevant area(s) of pre-school, primary or secondary curriculum
  • planning coherent and progressive teaching programmes
  • contexts for learning to fulfil their responsibilities in literacy, numeracy, health and wellbeing and interdisciplinary learning
  • the principles of assessment, recording and reporting

Education systems and professional responsibilities:

Have knowledge and understanding of:

  • the principal features of the education system, educational policy and practice
  • the schools and learning communities in which they teach and their own professional responsibilities within them

Pedagogical theories and practice:

Have knowledge and understanding of:

  • relevant educational principles and pedagogical theories to inform professional practices
  • the importance of research and engagement in professional enquiry

Teaching and learning:

  • Plan coherent, progressive and stimulating teaching programmes which match learners' needs and abilities
  • Communicate effectively and interact productively with learners, individually and collectively
  • Employ a range of teaching strategies and resources to meet the needs and abilities of learners
  • Have high expectations of all learners
  • Work effectively in partnership in order to promote learning and wellbeing

Classroom organisation and management:

  • Create a safe, caring and purposeful learning environment
  • Develop positive relationships and positive behaviour strategies

Pupil assessment:

  • Use assessment, recording and reporting as an integral part of the teaching process to support and enhance learning

Professional reflection and communication:

  • Read and critically engage with professional literature, educational research and policy
  • Engage in reflective practice and develop and advance career-long professional learning and expertise

Key areas for career-long professional learning:

  • Pedagogy, learning and subject knowledge
  • Curriculum and assessment
  • Enquiry and research
  • Educational contexts and current debates in policy, education and practice
  • Sustaining and developing professional learning
  • Learning for sustainability

The Professional Actions within the Standard for Career-long Professional Learning (SCLPL) take the key areas of career-long professional learning and outlines the nature, expectations and practice relevant to each of the key areas. Broadly stated this includes developing:

  • Critical understanding
  • Deep, enhanced knowledge, understanding and practice
  • Ability to lead and collaborate with others to develop curriculum; pedagogy; enquiry and professional learning
  • Expertise in subject knowledge, pedagogy, enquiry and research
  • Questioning disposition and interrogating practice through enquiry and research
  • Political insight and understanding into policy development and implementation through critical questioning
  • Sustained, significant professional learning based on enquiry and research
  • Informed and critical understandings of Learning for Sustainability

Key areas of Professional Action for Middle Leaders and Head Teachers are identified below. These are examined in greater detail and tailored to the nature of these posts within the SLM. The broad areas of Professional Action are:

  • Self evaluation for school improvement
  • Building and sustaining staff capacity, capability and practice through professional learning
  • Ensuring high quality teaching and learning
  • Building and sustaining partnerships
  • Managing and allocating resources
    (described separately for Middle Leaders and Head Teachers)