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Masters degree may be a must

The head of the GTC in Scotland has warned that in future teachers may be expected to have two degrees. Matthew MacIver, registrar and chief executive of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, told a national conference for CPD co-ordinators last week that perhaps the time had come to move beyond an all-graduate profession.

"Should we not be looking at countries like Finland which is moving towards a situation where all teachers do not have just one degree but also a masters degree?" Mr MacIver asked.

With Scottish teachers gaining masters degrees by becoming chartered teachers through the university route, there was no longer any reason why masters degrees should only be for a few. "Should they not in the future become the normal expectation for all teachers?"

At a recent meeting in Brussels, countries such as Latvia and Estonia had made it clear that they expected two degrees. They saw continuing professional development as the best route to raise standards, Mr MacIver said.

Scotland already had a vehicle for delivering a profession educated to masters level - the chartered teacher programme.

"What I regret - and I do regret it - is that we did not take advantage of the Standard for Headship to do the same," Mr MacIver said. "Is it not about time that we re-examined the anomaly of a postgraduate diploma for a Standard for Headship while the chartered teacher programme through the universities is a masters degree?"

Mr MacIver also highlighted the debate over whether work on a chartered teacher programme could count towards the 35-hour CPD requirement under the teachers' agreement.

"I have no problem with the idea that some CPD should be geared towards school development plans and local authority plans," he said. "For the most part, that benefits both the individual and the school.

"What I am worried about is that the school development plans andor the local authority development plans become the whole context of CPD. The danger of that approach is that CPD begins to appear as an obligation rather than an entitlement."

Mr MacIver also described his surprise when, after addressing a recent after-school session, the teachers participating were told they could "collect their certificate of attendance".

"If that is the way we are approaching CPD then I really do believe that we have a long way to go. If we don't create an environment in which teachers are trusted to develop their CPD, then I suspect that we have lost the battle."

Mr MacIver also referred to the temptation to gear changes in CPD to the younger generation of teacher, given that 62 per cent of the profession was over the age of 47. The demographics had underlined the need for a leadership class to emerge from the new generation entering the profession.

However, the chartered teacher programme had attracted high numbers of participants in their 50s, proof that all teachers were receptive to good and stimulating professional development.

Mr MacIver urged the education community to use CPD as a tool to raise standards in the classroom, but also to show trust in teachers' professionalism.

In remarks aimed at the universities, Mr MacIver urged them to change their traditional role on teacher education and forge stronger links with his own council, local authorities and the Executive. This could lead to a new partnership, he said.

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