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The new professionals

The first 20 teachers from primary and secondary schools have achieved the new professional recognition status from the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

The awards form part of the new Framework for Professional RecognitionRegistration, established to help teachers develop their knowledge and skills and to ensure that they are able to gain the standing they deserve.

They also allow registered teachers to focus their continuing professional development in particular areas of interest and gain recognition for enhancing and sharing their knowledge and experience.

Matthew MacIver, the council's chief executive, said: "These teachers have demonstrated a commitment to enhancing their existing skills and sharing their knowledge and experience to the benefits of children, their schools and fellow teachers.

"I hope this is the first of many teachers coming through this process and raising still further the high standard of teaching that already exists in Scottish schools."

The TES Scotland spoke to three of the teachers to find out what the process had involved and what the status meant to them.

* Laura Thomson, principal teacher, Ratho primary, Edinburgh

"My course focused on learning and teaching in great detail. I wanted to test the water because it has been a while since I had worked on an assignment and I wanted to see where I wanted to go from there.

"I had to gather a folio of practice and, having done the course, I have now gone on to the Scottish Qualification for Headship.

"Part of what I enjoyed in the course was the intellectual stimulation - doing more professional reading and that kind of thing.

"I feel it does recognise the effort and the commitment to teaching that perhaps were not recognised. CPD provision was very ad hoc before and nobody really looked at it. But this is a big step towards a celebration of teachers' commitment. It's been good for my own self-esteem and spurred me on to do the SQH."

* Andrew Blaikie, class teacher, Blackhall primary, Edinburgh

"There were three main parts to my course - focusing on learning and teaching, learning support and action-based classroom research. It was really about enhancing your practice and finding ways to improve or adapt new research. It means having a closer look at your own practice and evaluating it, with the intention of improving what is happening in the classroom.

"One of the purposes of the authority in running this course was to get people to look at either chartered teacher status or routes into management.

"I had been teaching for four years and I was not entirely sure of my career direction. The professional recognition makes you feel a bit more confident that you have taken on board a lot of these new ideas and skills.

I have tried these things out in the classroom and it has focused me a bit more on my career. Having that recognition also makes me more marketable."

* Ben Stewart, English teacher, Currie High, Edinburgh

"I gained professional recognition as part of a project leadership scheme, similar in structure to the Scottish Qualification for Headship. It focused on leadership, competence and professional knowledge, communication skills and theoretical research.

"The idea was that, now that there is no longer an assistant principal teacher post, there should be something that is management focused for teachers who are not quite at principal teacher level.

"I looked at students' self-profiling as well as pupils examining their own learning and how to improve it. This involved a survey of general approaches and offered an opportunity to people outwith the department to come and join the group, so that we could get a cross-curricular focus.

Hopefully, it will get the kids to take more responsibility for their learning.

"This gave me a chance to show off the expertise and leadership skills I had and to use them.

"I see my future now as going down the principal teacher route. This has been a stepping stone in the right direction and, more importantly, the group established in the school will continue to run and I will be a leading force in that."

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