A culture change is needed at schools in terms of how teachers are able to progress their careers, according to one union – and something resembling a long-gone scheme that rewarded teachers for staying in the classroom could be on the cards.
Amongst the recommendations of the final report of the Independent Panel on Career Pathways for Teachers, the report says a career pathway should be established for specialist roles in curricular, pedagogical and policy delivery through the creation of a new post of “lead teacher” – calling to mind the defunct role of chartered teacher, which promised career progression for teachers who did not aspire to management roles, but was scrapped in 2012.
The report states: “The reducing availability of promoted posts in Scottish teaching arguably does not enhance the idea of teaching as a profession with strong career progression routes. The end of the Chartered Teacher Scheme in 2012 reduced career options for teachers who wanted to expand their role without leaving behind classroom teaching.”
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The report also assesses other difficulties around career progression that have emerged in recent years.
It finds: “The development of faculty head roles in many local authorities created a significant jump from class teacher to faculty head. More recently the introduction of the Pupil Equity Fund (PEF) has increased the range and scope of posts in some schools and authorities. Figures from the annual teacher census show that the number of teachers in promoted posts fell each year from 2010 to 2016 before rising slightly in 2017.”
Teachers' career progression
The report notes that, over this period, the share of teachers who are in promoted posts across primary and secondary schools fell from 27.3 per cent to 24.4 per cent.
The NASUWT teaching union has called for a wider range of career pathways for teachers to make the most of their skills.
General secretary Chris Keates said: "The NASUWT, as a member of the panel, has raised consistently the need for a culture change in schools around how teachers progress and advance their careers.
"The union welcomes the positive and progressive recommendations contained in the report, which, if implemented fully across all schools, would go a long way to achieving this much-needed change in culture."
She added: "Teachers need a wider range of pathways through which they can develop their careers, pathways which offer greater flexibility, enabling them to make the most of their skills, abilities and interests.
"All of this must be underpinned by a statutory entitlement to high-quality, career-long professional development for every teacher and school leader and pay structures which reflect the highly skilled professional and pedagogic demands of the job.
"It will now be key that the SNCT (Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers) works to turn these recommendations into reality, for the benefit not only of the teaching profession, but also for children and young people who are entitled to be taught by highly skilled and trained teachers."
Education secretary and deputy first minister John Swinney said: "We want to provide ways to nurture the tremendous amount of talent that exists in our schools and to do so we must continue to empower current teachers by increasing their options for progression, enabling them to carve their own career pathway.
"This report provides additional pathways for teachers to take at all stages of their careers.
"Opportunities for development alongside teaching responsibilities will allow valued current teachers to flourish and increase their skills in new directions, for greater job satisfaction and to enhance the learning experience for pupils.”
He added: "The creation of lead teacher roles in the profession, alongside current pathways offering progression and ongoing training towards headship, opens up a greater variety of options for teachers who are considering their next steps, to empower those with the passion, drive and expertise to contribute to future education policy.
"Once implemented, these pathways will represent a huge increase in the breadth of opportunities a teaching career offers."
The 10 recommendations of the report include:
1. The principles for career pathways should be adopted by the profession and all stakeholders.
2. A career pathway should be established for specialist roles in curricular, pedagogical and policy delivery through the creation of a new post of lead teacher.
3. New and developing career pathways for headteachers within and beyond headship should be recognised, including new opportunities in system leadership.
4. Opportunities should be created that enable career progression both incrementally and laterally for all teachers.
5. A national model for sabbaticals should be developed for all teachers, including headteachers, that is both attractive and sustainable.
6. High-quality, systematic, coherent and accessible support for career development should be available for all teachers.
7. Further steps should be taken to promote teaching as a master’s profession while recognising the importance of work-based professional learning and experience.
8. Existing and developing national processes should ensure that opportunities for and access to career progression are coherent, fair and equitable.
9. A mechanism should be established to ensure that workforce planning is effective and coherent at all levels in the system.
10. All recommendations from the Career Panel Pathways report to be implemented by August 2021.