Teachers need not confine continuing professional development to the contractual 35 hours a year earmarked for the purpose, new guidelines make clear.
"A CPD activity is anything that has progressed a teacher's existing skills or enhanced her or his professionalism," the amended framework published by the Scottish Executive states. It carries the endorsement of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, the Educational Institute of Scotland and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.
Sitting down with a good book or "personal reflection" should count as much as attending an in-service event or a secondment, according to the guidelines. But teachers will still have to agree with their superiors which activities should be seen as contributing to the contractual 35 hours.
The framework assumes there will be six stages in professional development - "beginnings" for the probationer, leading to "next steps", "building excellence in learning and teaching", preparing for management, aspiring to leadership and ongoing development. Improved skills can be demonstrated in different areas from the curriculum and attainment to ethos and resources.
But the guidelines stress that this is not to be seen as a hierarchical approach in which excellence in the classroom, for example, leads ultimately to management. "Career paths in learning and teaching and in leading and management are distinct and equally valid and challenging," they state. "There is no hierarchy between the two."
The guidelines are intended to be "sufficiently flexible to enable schools and local authorities to set the national recommendations within the context of their own local systems".
They include a checklist as a prompt so schools get it right. This underlines the importance of ensuring that professional review and development "celebrates success, recognises good performance and makes clear to teachers that they are valued and appreciated".
The checklist also emphasises that, while every teacher must have a set of agreed development objectives, records should be kept to a minimum.