New professional standards proposed by the newly independent General Teaching Council for Scotland should boost school leadership at all levels and ensure that advances made by the chartered teacher scheme are not lost.
The revised Framework of Professional Standards would also give unprecedented status to global and environmental education, and put the onus on teachers to cast a critical eye over their workplace and beyond, the regulatory body said.
The Standard for Full Registration would still be the "benchmark" for teachers in Scotland, said Gillian Hamilton, head of educational services at the GTCS, as it began a consultation on the new standards.
But the development of a "standard for career-long professional learning" will create two new "phases" in a teaching career beyond mere registration, it said:
- "Accomplished" teachers will have areas of expertise and possibly master's-level study behind them.
- "Leading" teachers will be "catalysts of change" - whether at curricular or policy level - and many will be working towards, or have already achieved, postgraduate qualifications.
Mrs Hamilton said the new standard for career-long professional learning (SCLPL) would seek to ensure continuity from the chartered teacher scheme, whose end was signalled by last year's McCormac review of teacher employment; two chartered teachers have been closely involved in its creation.
Individual teachers would, ultimately, decide whether the new SCLPL was appropriate for them.
The same was true of a new "standard for middle leadership". It would not be a requirement for teachers aspiring to a principal teacher's post or other level of promotion; rather, individuals would have to decide whether it suited their career path, said Mrs Hamilton.
But the document underlines that "leadership is explicit across the revised professional standards" and is based on "fundamental professional values and habits of mind which must be acquired and fostered from entry into the teaching profession".
Teachers are also advised that professionalism "implies the need to ask critical questions of educational policies and practices"; values need to be "regularly reappraised" over the course of a career.
Global and environmental education figure prominently in the document: "sustainability has been embedded in the framework". A commitment to "social justice", it states, is core to being a teacher, including the "social values of sustainability" and the valuing of "ecological diversity".
Betsy King, senior education policy officer at WWF Scotland, praised the document's "emphasis on the values, principles and practices of sustainability".
GTC Scotland chief executive Anthony Finn, who identified leadership and sustainabilty as "key values", said: "The revised professional standards encapsulate what it means to be a teacher in Scotland in the 21st century."
Mrs Hamilton stressed that the new framework was central to work on professional review and development (PRD), professional update, and building on Teaching Scotland's Future (the Donaldson review), which asserted the need to revise professional standards.
The consultation runs until 31 October.
Larry Flanagan, EIS general secretary
Although we have a good working relationship with the GTCS, we were unconvinced about the need to develop further standards in areas such as leadership. One concern expressed previously is that some managers might approach the detail of the articulation contained within the standards as a tool for performance audit, rather than as a framework for professional reflection and dialogue.
Ann Ballinger, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association
The reference to teachers undertaking a "variety of roles within the classroom" - is this code for accepting all sorts of unpaid duties previously performed by promoted staff?
Ken Cunningham, general secretary of School Leaders Scotland
I was delighted to see the section on values. We've been pressing for years for these qualities to be at the heart of leadership development, but it must also be mirrored in the whole governance of education.