A new set of professional standards for teachers has been published, to "reconceptualise" the profession and bring it closer to the vision outlined in the Donaldson report on teacher education.
The revised standards, which will come into force in August, include a new standard for career-long professional learning, aimed at helping experienced teachers to develop their professional skills. It also offers opportunities for formal recognition of their expertise.
Drawn up by the General Teaching Council for Scotland, following a national consultation, the standards incorporate the values that all teachers are expected to demonstrate. Among them is an expectation that teachers' core values should include a commitment to sustainability, equality and justice, at both local and global level, and recognition of the rights and responsibilities of future, as well as current, generations.
While the inclusion of the concept of "learning for sustainability" was welcomed by some who took part in the consultation process, it was clearly unfamiliar territory to others.
Respondents to the consultation interpreted the notion in different ways - some correctly regarded it as relating to pupil learning about sustainable ecological practices and others wrongly saw it as referring to sustainable professional development for teachers.
The importance of leadership is stated explicitly across all the professional standards, with a focus on teacher leadership, leadership for learning and building leadership capacity in others. In response to feedback from a number of teachers, concerned that the proposed revisions would force some into leadership roles for which they would not be remunerated, the GTCS emphasised that leadership for learning was to be a clear focus for the standards for registration and the standard for career-long professional learning.
GTCS convener David Drever commented: "These standards articulate what it means to be a teacher in Scotland today and will be of value to all who have an interest in the future of Scottish education. In particular, they will provide practical and reflective support to teachers at all stages of their developing career."
The revised standards that will replace the current four standards in August are:
- the standards for registration (incorporating the standard for provisional registration and the standard for full registration);
- the standard for career-long professional learning;
- the standards for leadership and management (incorporating the standard for middle leadership and the standard for headship).