GTC Scotland

The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Professional Update for Supply Teachers

Does Professional Update affect me as a supply teacher?

From August 2014, all GTC Scotland registered teachers who engage in classroom teaching will be required to engage in the Professional Update process, including supply teachers.

GTC Scotland has validated local authority Professional Review and Development (PRD) schemes to ensure that they meet the principles of Professional Update. This validation process includes specific reference to arrangements which enable supply teachers to engage in the PRD process.

Supply teachers have a wide range of working contexts including those who undertake occasional short term work to those who are engaged in longer-term contracts or even undertake supply work in addition to a part-time post. They play a vital role in the delivery of education across Scotland.

What does Professional Update involve for me as a supply teacher?

All GTC Scotland registered teachers maintain their registration through Professional Update and for teachers this involves:

  • On an ongoing basis:
    Self-evaluation against the appropriate GTCS About the Standards
    Engagement in ongoing Professional Learning 
    Maintaining a reflective professional learning record and associated evidence of impact
    Engagement in the Professional Review and Development process
  • On an annual basis: updating your details held on the GTCS register including checking your personal and employment details are up to date
  • On a 5-yearly basis: signing off to confirm engagement in the process with GTCS (individual and line manager)

Does where I work as a supply teacher affect my involvement in Professional Update?

GTC Scotland has undertaken a comprehensive validation of Local Authority, University and Independent Sector Professional Update schemes in preparation for the implementation of Professional Update. This has involved a specific focus on provision for supply teachers, with each validation including a focus group discussion with supply teachers. It is expected that every employer will have Professional Update processes in place for supply teachers, which meet the needs of supply teachers working in each local context:

  • Many aspects of Professional Update such as recording systems, guidance materials, professional learning opportunities and specific support for supply teachers will vary depending on your employer where you are currently working.
  • You should check locally to see what information, handbooks, networks, meetings, policies etc are in place for supply teachers and how best to access them.
  • Supply teachers working in more than one Local Authority can nominate one Local Authority as their employer and notify the others that they will be following the Professional Update process in their chosen Local Authority. Further information should be available from Local Authority staff with responsibility for Professional Update.
  • Supply teachers engaging in very limited or sporadic work and with no access to a local authority system can record their professional learning on their online profile available through MyGTCS. If you do not have access to a designated line manager at the point where you are required to complete the Professional Update sign-off, you can submit your professional learning record directly to GTC Scotland using the MyGTCS online profile system.

If you haven't already done so, you can create your personalised MyGTCS account by completing a short online application form. Please note, all of the information you provide must match what we have on record for you.

As a supply teacher, how do I engage in Professional Learning?

The Professional Update process is intended to promote and support teacher engagement in professional learning. The range of experiences that can support this learning is very wide and includes any activity that enables a teacher to reflect on and develop his or her professional practice, knowledge or understanding. A supply teacher's varied work context itself provides a rich setting for professional learning and reflection on practice.

You might find the model of professional learning and the professional learning planning wheel useful in engaging with the professional learning process:

Supply teachers move between the teaching requirements called for by different schools, stages, classes, subjects, etc, all of which can provide learning opportunities to reflect on how these experiences have impacted on their professional knowledge, skills and abilities. The contrasts between long and short term supply contracts can also be a source of reflection on professional learning as each brings different demands and challenges. Keeping a Reflective Learning Journal can be a useful way of capturing your learning in providing insight into self-awareness.

Examples of professional learning for supply teachers:

  • Professional learning course/event - ask to take part in In-service provision at a school you work with or at Local Authority level.
  • Collaborative learning with and from others - Supply teaching offers the possibility of working collaboratively with a wide range of teachers in different settings and this can be a source of rich reflection and professional learning.
  • Further academic study - there are a number of University programmes available online, for example "Coursera" is an education platform that partners with top universities and organisations worldwide, to offer free courses online.
  • Practitioner enquiry/research - Professional reading and research - From August, your MyGTCS account gives access to a collection of over 1700 education journals and a wide selection of eBooks. It may also be possible to engage in enquiry into an aspect of your own practice.
  • Leadership activity - offering to lead a support session for a group of supply teachers to share professional learning and reflections. 

How do I engage with Self-evaluation and the Professional Standards as a supply teacher?

The first stage of planning your professional learning will likely include self-evaluation against the Professional Standard which is appropriate to your current context.

The Standards have been designed to support teachers in identifying, planning and developing their own professional learning to ensure continuing development of professional knowledge, understanding and practice. You can watch several short videos which highlight the key themes for each of the Standards, find links and references to the professional reading which informed the development of the new standards and engage with reflective questions to support you in a process of critically thinking about your own professional values and professional learning process in relation to the standards.

You can explore the standards and find opportunities to engage in a self evaluation process against all relevant Standards. Your reflection and analysis can then be used to identify areas of strength and development to inform your professional learning plan and career aspirations. As a supply teacher you might want to identify one or two areas of focus for development in order to engage in deeper professional learning and development rather than list a series of discrete accomplishments. You can view the Useful Links section for more details.

How can my MyGTCS account help me with Professional Update?

Your MyGTCS account has a number of features that can help you with Professional Update in addition to the systems available to you locally. There are information sections online to help you get the best from these features which include:

  • View and update your personal details.
  • Access over 1,700 education journals and a wide selection of eBooks.
  • Sign up to receive one of our newsletters.
  • Gain access to additional services provided by GTC Scotland.
  • View and contribute to your professional learning record.
  • Keep a reflective journal

Professional Update recording systems will vary depending on where you are currently working. When you log onto MyGTCS it will alert you if your employer uses another system for recording.

Professional Update Sign-off Process

GTC Scotland expects you to undertake the Professional Update sign-off process by the end of the academic session in which you are required to do so, normally by 1 July. However, we realise that, due to unforeseen circumstances, completion of this process can sometimes be delayed until the start of the next academic session. Therefore, at the start of the next academic session, registered supply teachers who have not yet completed the Professional Update sign-off process will be reminded of the immediate requirement to do so by no later than 31 October. Local authorities will also be notified of the details of supply teachers in their employment who have still to complete the Professional Update sign-off process at that point.

Where your local authority has an existing system in place, there is no requirement for you to duplicate information as part of the professional learning record which can be accessed through MyGTCS. From August 2014, when you access the professional learning record on MyGTCS information about whether or not your local authority expects you to use the MyGTCS professional learning record for the purposes of Professional Update will be displayed.

Supply teachers with no access to a local authority system and supply teachers working across a number of local authorities using different systems can record their professional learning on the online profile available through MyGTCS.

Supply teachers engaging in very limited or sporadic work and with no access to a local authority system can record their professional learning on their online profile available through MyGTCS. If you do not have access to a designated line manager at the point where you are required to complete the Professional Update sign-off, you can submit your professional learning record directly to GTC Scotland using the MyGTCS online profile system.


For further information about Professional Update, contact:

T: +44 (0)131 314 6000