Upgrade to stay registered

12th October 2007 at 01:00
Teachers in England may be required to provide evidence they have upgraded their skills if they want to remain fully registered, under a proposal put forward by the head of England's General Teaching Council.

Keith Bartley, its chief executive, argues that public trust in teachers would deepen if "active registration" was introduced.

If his plan is adopted, supply teachers and returners to the profession are likely to face the greatest difficulty in proving their "commitment to, and participation in, continuing work-based learning". Most teachers working in maintained schools would automatically meet Mr Bartley's criteria, as the English performance management framework requires schools to identify teachers' development needs.

Were Scotland to follow a similar route of "active registration", it would again be supply teachers and those returning to teaching after a break who would struggle to prove they had kept their skills updated.

Teachers fulfilling the 35 hours per year of compulsory continuing professional development under the national teachers' agree- ment would automatically meet the threshold.

The GTC for Scotland refused to comment on his proposal, which has yet to go out for consultation.

However, Tom Hamilton, director of educational policy at the GTCS, prompted speculation earlier this year that the Scottish body might be considering a similar move.

Writing online for the Scottish Executive's Teachers for Excellence series on how teachers can become excellent practitioners and implement A Curriculum for Excellence, Mr Hamilton suggested that compulsory re-registration every five years might become the norm.

"The Standard for Full Registration is large and multi-faceted, so it would be unreasonable to expect teachers to measure themselves against it in full each year. But, say, over the course of a five-year period it would be quite possible and perfectly reasonable for an individual teacher to consider each element of the Standard and set their own professional performance beside it. For example, 'what have I done to ensure I am keeping up to date in my understanding of the curriculum and its development?' would be a reasonable question," he wrote.

Other professions, such as doctors, nurses, architects and solicitors already have to provide evidence, or will face similar requirements in the next year, to show that they have updated their skills to stay registered. Teachers in the United States have to relicense themselves every five years. "How long can it be until a similar expectation is placed on Scottish teachers?" asked Mr Hamilton.

When the revised SFR was unveiled last month by the GTCS, there was no mention of compulsory re-registration. Amendments to the original version, launched in 2002, included references to curriculum, assessment and disability changes, while some parts, thought no longer relevant, were removed.

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