Editor's comment

1st October 2010 at 01:00

Clearly, the General Teaching Council for Scotland has had the teacher re-accreditation scheme for its members thrust upon it. Its initial "invitation" - with the Scottish Government holding its arm firmly up its back - turned into a legal duty to introduce the five-yearly check on teachers' professional fitness to teach. A quid pro quo for being allowed to throw off the Government's apron-strings? The GTCS, as it prepares to embrace its new independent status, was pragmatic - aware that if the teachers' own regulatory body did not do the job, somebody less sympathetic might.

Thus the council is left to square the circle of allaying teachers' fears that they are being forced to undergo a professional MOT, while also ensuring their performance is monitored: subject knowledge, tick; discipline, tick; child protection knowledge, tick; and continuing professional development . tick, maybe.

The GTCS's aim of basing its scheme of re-accreditation - sorry, professional update - on proof of teachers' continuous professional improvement has an obvious attraction, but some equally obvious problems. It will have to rely on professional review and development (a term which avoids another dreaded word, "appraisal"), a system that is patchy in quality and, in some cases, flawed in operation.

Yet however well it succeeds in reassuring teachers that this is not part of a witchhunt to root out failing teachers, the bottom line for the GTCS is that it cannot keep the issues of professional update and competence completely separate. The council's leaders acknowledge that there will be a bridge between the two. For it would be unimaginable that any teacher referred to the GTCS for incompetence would not be questioned on his or her PRD record. It remains a hard sell, however you word it.

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

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