Editor's comment

26th February 2010 at 00:00

No matter how the General Teaching Council for Scotland spins it, how conciliatory its language, or how touchy-feely its messages, it is inevitable that the prospect of "re-accreditations" will spread fear and alarm in staffrooms. Tony Finn, the council's chief executive and Keith Brown, Minister for Skills and Lifelong Learning, have both emphasised their faith in teachers' professional skills. Any process of re- accreditation, we are assured, will support teachers in developing their skills, not pick on the weakest. The vast majority of teachers seek to keep up-to-date with the latest practice anyway, Mr Finn believes, and re- accreditation would simply be a mechanism to confirm this was being done.

But therein lies the rub. Re-accreditation is not supposed to be a rubber stamp; otherwise, what is the point of introducing it? Ministers will expect some payback: improving standards in teaching (especially after the latest survey on achievement this week). And it will have to include measures to deal with those teachers - few in number, we are constantly assured - who do not keep their professional skills up to scratch.

So, if teachers view this evaluation of their performance as a "crit", that is exactly what it will be. But, with careful management, the GTCS should be able to introduce it without scaring the horses too much. It is the norm in many other walks of life.

Reassuring the profession might have been easier if the GTCS had been given a carrot as well as a (potential) stick, supporting teachers through continuing professional development so it would not be seen as just a controlling body. It may well be that the re-accreditation process will expose gaps in the CPD landscape. If that is the case, the GTCS may yet reinforce its case for a stronger CPD role and bring greater coherence to a very mixed bag of provision.

Neil Munro editor of the year (business and professional magazine).

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