New standards for Scots teachers in quality drive

Guidelines have been set in a bid to drive up quality in the classroom. Picture: PA
Guidelines have been set in a bid to drive up quality in the classroom. Picture: PA
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A NEW set of career-long professional standards have been launched for teachers in an attempt to drive up quality in Scotland’s classrooms.

The new standards, which will be used from this August, were unveiled yesterday by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) following the Scottish Government’s 2011 Donaldson Review, which looked at how to improve teacher training. But despite a review of the compulsory Standard for Registration, there will be no requirement on teachers to continually upgrade their skills throughout their careers, and no assessment to monitor their progress.

Anthony Finn, the chief executive of the GTCS, said: “The standards were produced by a working group consisting of representatives of all the key stakeholders in Scottish education, including the trades unions, classroom teachers, Scottish Government, Education Scotland and others.

“They seek to guide and challenge teachers in their professional learning and development and they provide constructive advice to support them throughout their careers.

“The new Standard for Career Long Professional Learning, in particular, offers for the first time a framework which teachers can use to help develop their professional skills.”

But the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA), one of the country’s largest teaching unions, said the teaching regulator had overplayed the significance of the new standards.

Alan McKenzie, the union’s acting general-secretary, said: “It’s difficult to argue with what’s being presented. We accept the need to make some attempt to make sure teachers are kept up to date. But I don’t believe all the trumpeting from the GTCS. There’s a bit of spin going on that this is a major milestone in teacher education. I think it will fizzle out like a two-bob rocket.”

The Donaldson Review, which was compiled by former HM Inspectorate of Education boss Graham Donaldson, called for wide-reaching changes in teacher training and continued teacher education.

Its 50 recommendations also included proposals for the introduction of tests in reading, writing and maths for trainees as a way of driving up standards in Scotland’s schools. The Scottish Government accepted the recommendations in full, but set up a national partnership group to take them forward.

Minister for Learning Alasdair Allan said: “The quality of our teachers is crucial to improving learning for our children.

“That’s why it is vital that teaching standards are revised, making sure that they meet the needs of learners and provide teachers with the best possible framework for the profession.

Last week, Edinburgh University announced plans for a “radical overhaul” of teacher training, with trainees spending more time in the classroom as part of a new Masters qualification.