Ambitious teachers have always undertaken extra courses, as did colleagues dispatched to master a new skill for the sake of their school or local authority. In time we can be sure that all teachers, like professionals in other fields, will have to update knowledge and techniques. Becoming a school leader will depend before long on having acquired the Scottish Qualification in Headship, and where heads pioneer, lower rank will follow.
The wider the spread of CPD the more problems there are to resolve. When will teachers do the work, and where? Bruce Robertson, as director of education for Highland, makes a strong case for utilising information technology, which has the potential not just to make CPD feasible in rural areas but to deliver it to all teachers for whom an after-school dash to university classes is a hassle.
If CPD becomes in effect compulsory, it will have to be properly resourced and planned. At root, however, is the fact that local authorities are in no position yet to offer CPD all round. Neither the extra teachers nor the finances are in place. The outcome of the McCrone inquiry will have a bearing, too.