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Keeping up the standards

The repeal last year of the Schools (Scotland) Code of 1956 has made it easier for primary and secondary teachers to cross sectors.

Fearful of an attrition of standards under the legislative change, the General Teaching Council for Scotland has developed a framework for professional recognition. Although not mandatory, it is likely to be the main vehicle for teachers wishing to cross over.

The 1956 code permitted primary-trained teachers to do learning support in secondary schools for what it described as "backward" children. Although the terminology has changed, that position remains the same.

The experienced primary teacher sought by Kemnay Academy in Aberdeenshire to teach a small class of S1 pupils with additional needs is not departing radically from that format (see above). However, as the new framework allows primary and secondary teachers to be recognised as having met the standard for the other sector, largely through continuing professional development work and classroom experience, any primary teacher taking up the S1 post at the school could use the experience to earn the necessary points towards meeting the standard for a secondary teacher.

Tom Hamilton, the director of educational policy at GTC Scotland, says:

"When the new regime came in, the Scottish Executive said they had to be assured of the competence, content knowledge and so on of the teachers being deployed in particular ways, and that the Framework for Professional Recognition was a way of ensuring that relevant knowledge and competence was there."

In simple terms, a secondary teacher wishing to gain registration as a primary teacher through the framework would have to demonstrate that he or she had undertaken an agreed CPD programme to develop their professional knowledge, skills and abilities to teach the whole curriculum in the nursery and primary sector and met the standard for full registration to teach in a primarynursery school.

Other requirements include support from employer, 135 days of full-time teaching equivalent across the whole primary curriculum and being observed teaching on at least six occasions.

Primary teachers moving to the secondary sector have to have the necessary academic requirements to teach a subject, that is 80 credit points (based on university level subject study), plus employer approval, the standard for full registration, teaching experience, including certificate classes, and observation.

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