Scotland’s teaching watchdog is launching a radical plan to create a new breed of teacher who is qualified to work in both primary and secondary schools, in a bid to tackle staff shortages.
Unions are warning that the change could “weaken the standard” of teaching, in secondary schools in particular, because the new teachers will not need a degree in the subjects they teach. Parents have also raised concerns about the move.
But the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) said allowing teachers to work across the broad general education (BGE) phase – which runs from nursery to S3 – would help to tackle the teacher recruitment crisis because councils will be able to deploy teachers more flexibly.
The organisation also claimed it was in line with Curriculum for Excellence and could lead to a more seamless transition from primary to secondary for pupils.
The GTCS told Tes Scotland that the new type of registration, known as the Broad General Registration Category, was expected to be up and running during this school year.
Ahead of the official launch, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow have decided to offer new teaching qualifications covering both the primary and secondary phases.
However, Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association general secretary Seamus Searson said: “This is weakening the standard and it’s not fair to these people who will become second-class people in the [secondary] school.”
Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS teaching union, said the move “raised questions” and could create a “two-tier system in the secondary sector” because some teachers would have degrees in the subjects they were delivering, while others would not.
Joanna Murphy, chair of the National Parent Forum of Scotland, said innovation was welcome in tackling the teacher shortage, but the move risked “a brain drain” of teachers out of the primary sector due to shortages in secondary.
A GTCS spokeswoman said that the change would “facilitate effective working, and quality learning and teaching across the primary and secondary sectors”. It also had “huge potential in facilitating transitions between primary and secondary”.
This is an edited version of an article in the 15 September edition of Tes Scotland. Subscribers can read the full story here. To subscribe, click here. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here. Tes Scotland magazine is available at all good newsagents.