'Professional update' is not an MOT, says GTCS

3rd February 2012 at 00:00
As consultation is launched, unions voice fears that the scheme will be used to gauge competency

GTC Scotland's "professional update" proposal is neither a "mechanism for testing teachers", an MOT, nor aimed at "weeding out" bad teachers, the organisation's chief executive, Anthony Finn, insisted this week.

Its consultation on the controversial scheme was launched earlier this week amid claims from one union - the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association (SSTA) - that it could become an employers' tool for dealing with teachers' competency.

Ann Ballinger, SSTA general secretary, acknowledged that staff at the General Teaching Council for Scotland did not envisage the professional update scheme being linked to the competency agenda. But she felt the linkage was inevitable - "just as certain headteachers use the Standard for Full Registration as a weapon".

Mr Finn described professional update as "a positive development which aims to support teachers to identify their developmental needs and to take advantage of available continuing professional development to maintain and improve their professional skills".

He added: "We anticipate that it will provide strong evidence of the standards of education and training of registered teachers in Scotland."

Carried out once every five years, the scheme is expected to be seen as an enhancement of the annual professional review and development process.

The government placed the GTCS under a duty to introduce a "re- accreditation" scheme when it legislated to grant it independent status from April this year. The "re-accreditation" tag has been rejected by the GTCS in favour of a working title of "professional update". Teachers are being asked to comment on the name as part of the consultation.

Larry Flanagan, EIS education convener and general secretary designate, said: "The EIS will continue to engage constructively with the GTCS regarding proposals for professional update, while also continuing to emphasise our opposition to any suggestion of a system of re-accreditation for teachers.

"While we recognise that the GTCS has been compelled to explore these issues, the EIS utterly rejects the attempt made by the McCormac report to push the GTCS towards a blatant re-accreditation system for teachers."

Leslie Manson, who represents the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland on the GTCS, said: "There is no more danger that professional update will be inappropriately used or muddled with the competence process than happens with the existing professional review and development process."

But he said that greater uniformity in the quality of the PRD process was a prerequisite for successful working of professional update.

elizabeth.buie@tess.co.uk.

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