GTCS Professional Update

IMG_5843The General Teaching Council for Scotland has for the past few years been preparing for the introduction of a scheme of re-accreditation for teachers, required as part of the legislation which saw it gain “independence” from Government in 2012.

As with every other public body with an education remit, the GTCS can no doubt show that it has consulted widely and has “a regard to any views expressed by those consulted” [1]. The GTCS leadership have been at pains to distance itself from the competency overtones of the term “re-accreditation” and has positioned the professional update scheme, which goes live next week, as an enhancement of the annual professional review and development (PRD) process.

According to the GTCS website, I have to engage in the professional update process in August but, as with every other public body with an education remit, getting a clear statement of exactly what it is I have to do is difficult. I have a suspicion from talking to those involved in the pilot process that in the end, anything that from 500 yards looks like a duck, will be called a duck. “It’s a skoosh”, according to one participant.

This is familiar territory to anyone who has used the COSLA myjobscotland website, which is clearly designed to show how the official bodies are working hard to operate an open, equal and fair process but which in fact delivers an awkward, dysfunctional and frustrating exercise in time-wasting for potential applicants. Reading Kafka is great preparation for using this site if you’re considering it.

So, it’s August next week and, like a lot of teachers, I have a lot of things to do during the so-called holiday period, including preparing for Professional Update. From the GTCS website today:

28. When will I be required to complete the Professional Update process for the first time?

From my GTCS number, I will be required to complete Professional Update in 2014/15.

29. How should I be preparing for Professional Update?

“From August 2014, engagement in the Professional Update process will be a condition of registration with GTC Scotland. National implementation will be on a phased basis, as outlined in the question above. Teachers will not be asked to provide retrospective evidence in the PRD process prior to 2014. GTC Scotland will continue to take every opportunity to communicate with the profession to ensure that all teachers are aware of the timescale of implementation, and what will be required of them to complete the Professional Update process.”

A paragraph of text which doesn’t answer the question by stating that GTCS will take “every opportunity” to answer the question. So, I get that this is something to do with the PRD process, which from the past decade I’ve spent in education, is a futile ticky-box role-playing exercise with absolutely no value whatsoever to me, the people I teach, nor the service. OK, I think I’m ready for that.

Scottish Learning Festival ’13, Day 2

I was lucky enough to be able to attend both days of the SLF this year. The focus on the second day for me was very much that of professional development for teachers.

gridThis began with a little reflection on the variability in the quality of CPD accessed by teachers. In my experience, this has ranged in two dimensions from very good to very bad and from relevant to irrelevant. I was thinking in particular of Wednesday night’s teachmeet, which, like all teachmeets I’ve attended, contained a range of talks and professional development which I would plot somewhere mid-to-right-of-centre on our grid, ranging between ±70% of the relevancy scale. The plot shown here is meant to be representative, not a specific critique of any presentation or session.

Petra
Professor Petra Wend, Chair of the NIB

Petra Wend chaired a round table session with some of her colleagues on the National Implementation Board providing short stimulus talks: Graeme Logan, Susan Quinn and Glenn Rodger. Delegates, aided by table facilitators, debated several questions around the challenges faced by the NIB and came up with a number of key questions which expressed the consensus of the principal concerns of those present. The output of the round table will be published at the Teaching Scotland’s Future website. Whilst you’re clicking around, take a look some of these other places, too: firstly, the Aspiring Teachers site which includes a check of literacy and numeracy for those thinking about a career in teaching in Scotland. Are you up to the minimum standard to teach here?

Second, the Framework for Educational Leadership is of direct relevance to you as a teacher, even if you think that “leadership” is something that ambitious, unprincipled putative deputes are desperate to shove up your nose. We are all leaders of learning and the opportunities provided by CfE to break out of the silos that have traditionally bunkered our creativity are going to be realised when all teachers take on the mantle of true educational leadership in order to bring the best of opportunities to their students. Look out for the development and sharing of good examples, called for by delegates at the round table today. Get ready for the Scottish College for Educational Leadership, coming very soon. There’s a heads-up on Margery McMahon’s blog (I was at Margery’s table today).

Finally, is the GTCS Practitioner enquiry resource which will give you a heads up on the new expectations for all teachers to evaluate methods, ditching those that don’t work and replacing them with those that do, based upon evidence from action research in their own classrooms.

The last session I attended at the SLF this year was a good example of practitioner enquiry and professional update: Caroline Bayne and Pauline Gilhooley gave a fascinating presentation of Edinburgh’s model for professional development course called, “Enhancing Classroom Practice”, which follows a well-established model rooted in masters-level reading, critical thinking, practitioner enquiry and reflection. Broadly the model follows these steps in three phases of the course, which will not be unfamiliar to those who undertook the Chartered Teacher programme:

  • Literature review
  • Critical reading
  • Research methods
  • Changes to practice
  • Measurement of impact
  • Evaluation

Although the Edinburgh course does not as yet attract accreditation, it looks like it might be possible in the right partnership with a local university and I am sure that dialogue along these lines will have taken place.

I’ll wrap up my report of the second day of the SLF with a (remembered) quote, shared by Professor Wend in the round table this morning:

research shows that having better qualified teachers results in better learning experiences

Personally, I would rather this was stated as “better educated” teachers, but the point is well made. If you know what you’re doing, then what you do, you do better.