GTC Scotland

The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Application for registration references

If you qualified outside Scotland, we will require a reference on your most recent teaching service. If you have not taught during the last five years we will also require a character reference.

This reference is an integral part of the assessment process for teachers wishing to register in Scotland. We can also use references to consider teaching service towards the probationary service requirement for full registration – this can reduce the amount of probationary service that you need to complete if you are awarded registration, and may also mean that full registration can be awarded instead of provisional registration. Further information appears in the Previous service in lieu of probation section.

Advice for Candidates

We require referees to be:

  • a senior member of staff at the school or college
  • able to comment on your teaching service

We require our reference form to be countersigned by the Head Teacher or Principal of the school or college.

Important: It is your responsibility to ensure that your referee's contact details are accurate (in particular their email address) and that they are willing to provide a report. You should contact your nominated referee prior to nomination to ensure they are willing to support your application and advise them that a GTC Scotland reference form will be sent to them via email.

Failure to ask permission from your referee and/or to provide an accurate email address can lead to delays in receiving your reference, which will also delay the assessment of your application. NB we cannot assess your application until the reference has been received.

Issues which may affect your references

  1. My referee is no longer employed at my current school and/or has recently retired or the school where I was employed has closed

    You should nominate a referee who is still employed at the school if at all possible. If there is nobody still employed at the school who can provide a reference or the school has now closed please contact us for advice.

  2. My referee does not speak or cannot write in English

    All referee reports must be given in English. If your nominated professional referee (e.g. the Head teacher) can't speak English, a character reference from an English speaking referee will be accepted instead. Please note that a character reference cannot be used to reduce the probationary service requirement for full registration.

  3. My referee wants to submit their own reference letter

    All references must be given on our referee form. We will not accept references in any other format, e.g. reference letter. NB If the referee chooses to complete the front of the form and then attach typed answers to the sections of the General Teaching Council for Scotland's (GTCS) own form then this will be acceptable.

  4. My school has closed for summer break and my referee is on holiday

    We will allow additional time for references to be received during the summer holiday period.

Previous service in lieu of probation

The probationary service requirement for full registration in Scotland is normally up to 270 days full-time equivalent teaching service (or 190 days’ continuous teaching service in one school).

We are able to consider previous teaching service given outside Scotland (or in independent schools in Scotland) towards the probationary service requirement for full registration provided that it:

  • was satisfactory
  • was in the relevant subject and sector
  • was given after the award of an acceptable degree and teaching qualification

Please note that we are only able to consider teaching service that is relevant to your teacher education subject areas. You may have given relevant teaching service in more than one school. If this is the case we would strongly recommend that you nominate additional referees who can comment on this service. You should attach an additional sheet to your application form with their contact details.


For further information, please contact:

T: +44 (0)131 314 6000


General Advice

If you have not taught since the award of your initial teaching qualification, you should nominate a university lecturer from your ITQ programme or an appropriate person in a position of authority who can provide a character reference for you.