The Teaching watchdog has bowed to mounting pressure by agreeing to allow secondary teachers to become qualified in two subjects at the end of their one-year probation. It is hoped that the move will ease the ongoing recruitment crisis, especially in rural areas.
The Teaching Council for Scotland’s (GTCS) decision has been welcomed by secondary headteachers who have been campaigning on the issue for years. “Common sense” has prevailed, they added.
The change – which should come into effect next year – will allow heads greater flexibility amid teacher shortages, said Jim Thewliss, general secretary of School Leaders Scotland.
Flexibility for rural schools
Secondaries in more remote areas are expected to benefit the most. As far back as 2013, a report on the delivery of rural education said that “difficulty in providing a core curriculum” was being exacerbated because new teachers were only able to specialise in one lead subject during their induction.
Mr Thewliss said: “This will give schools huge flexibility in timetabling; it’s hugely helpful.”
Education directors’ body ADES welcomed the change, which will enable probationers with the appropriate qualifications to gain registration in two related subjects, such as physics and chemistry or French and German.
John Stodter, ADES general secretary, said: “People were increasingly becoming qualified in one language but with the 1+2 policy, in particular, councils want as many linguists and languages as possible.”
Glasgow City Council recently told TESS that teachers who were qualified in only one language need not apply for posts in the city.
The problem of new teachers entering the profession with just one specialism is a consequence of the one-year teacher induction scheme, which was introduced in 2002.
The scheme – which has been hailed as an example of best practice – guarantees new teachers a one-year teaching post after they leave university so that they can gain the classroom experience that they need in order to become fully registered.
But when it was introduced, it was decided that new teachers would only have the time to gain expertise in one subject area.
Under the previous regime, new teachers needed two years of teaching experience and were responsible for securing their own jobs – but the longer induction period meant they could qualify in two subjects.
Teachers on the one-year scheme have been able to gain dual registration after qualification through GTCS’ professional recognition route but this was “awkward to do”, Mr Thewliss said.
“If you get a job in a school and you are employed as a geography teacher, that’s because there is a full timetable for you to deliver,” he explained. “That made it difficult for headteachers to let teachers have the experience they needed to become dual qualified as, say, a geography and history teacher.”
The GTCS said it had decided to introduce the change in response to the Commission on the Delivery of Rural Education report in 2013 and support from the Scottish government’s workforce planning group.
A spokesperson said: “In addition, the GTCS conducted a consultation to gather views of dual registration two years ago and, among other partners, councils welcomed the idea.”
Just over 160 organisations and individuals responded to the consultation; 84 per cent agreed in principle that dual registration during the probationary year should be possible.
Professional learning log
An e-portfolio where teachers can record their professional learning is to be piloted by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) this August.
The new online tool – which is being funded by the Scottish government, was among the recommendations in Teaching Scotland’s Future, Graham Donaldson’s report on teacher education.
Mr Donaldson called for the profiles to be introduced so that teachers could record progress and set targets and next steps. The GTCS expects the initiative to be rolled out in 2017.