Teacher MOT looks likely
Scottish teachers face a highly controversial process of "re- accreditation" to confirm they are fit to continue teaching, under new legislation giving the General Teaching Council for Scotland independent status.
The reformed GTCS, which regulates the teaching profession, is being "invited" by the Scottish Government to "develop and consult on proposals for a system of re-accreditation" - but few believe this is an invitation the organisation can refuse.
Tony Finn, chief executive of the GTCS, pledged to ensure the process, which could take place every five years, was supportive of teachers. He emphasised his approach would be one of consensus-building, following full consultation with teachers.
He was eager to distance the move from the "licence to teach" being introduced in England. "This is not a way of weeding out weak teachers, as in England, but a means of identifying areas where teachers may need assistance to develop skills for the future," Mr Finn commented.
He also insisted that re-accreditation would not be linked with the council's handling of cases involving teachers accused of being incompetent.
The GTCS will face a major battle to assuage teachers' fears about "re- accreditation". Even before the publication of the Government's response on the future independent status of the council, one teachers' leader was warning that it would evoke fears among teachers of a "crit" every five years.
The five-year cycle is speculation at this stage, but that is the timeframe that has been most frequently discussed and seems likeliest to emerge.
The changes, which will be embedded in secondary legislation as part of the Public Service Reform Bill, going through the Scottish Parliament, give the GTCS an expanded role. These include control of the complete set of standards that outline teacher competencies, and more responsibility for initial teacher education courses.
The council will be reduced from 50 to 37, however, although teachers will still be in the majority. The reduced membership means that additional members will have to be co-opted to serve on committees.
The GTCS expressed disappointment that it had not been given a greater remit to oversee continuing professional development. But the Government said that, given the "mixed views" it received on this issue from its consultation, along with the complexity of the CPD landscape in Scotland, it was "not minded to significantly amend" the existing position in order to give the council a lead.
Mr Finn also expressed regret that the GTCS's regulatory role had not been extended in the further education college sector. "I have some concerns about having one group of teachers who are not regulated through the GTCS when others are," he said. "It is worth noting that the trend across the UK is to have greater regulation in FE."
But the Government argues that there is opposition from the FE sector to greater powers for the GTCS.