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Teaching Scotland's Future - Report of a review of teacher education in Scotland

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Chapter 6: Conclusions and recommendations

Scottish education has many strengths, not least the quality of its teachers and the wide variety of people in the many other services which serve the needs of our young people. Scottish education also faces a number of long-standing and difficult issues which remain to be resolved. The need for radical moves to raise standards, tackle underachievement, strengthen literacy and numeracy skills and create more challenging and interesting learning has been highlighted in successive national and international reports. Scotland has therefore embarked on a very radical and ambitious reform programme, Curriculum for Excellence, designed to ensure that it has the kind of well-educated and highly-skilled population which will flourish in an increasingly fast-changing, complex and challenging national and global environment.

For school education, the foundations of that reform programme lay in the Teaching Profession for the Twenty-First Century agreement reached in 2001. That agreement was intended to create the conditions and expectations for a revitalised and re-energised teaching profession and in turn to lead to better learning and higher standards of achievement for our young people. That task remains as 'work in progress'.

Strategic priorities

Drawing on an extensive and compelling range of evidence, national and international, it is clear that the two most important factors which promote excellent education are the quality of the teaching profession and of its leadership. This Review addresses both of these factors through the lens of career-long teacher education.

Recommendation 1

Education policy in Scotland should give the highest priority to further strengthening the quality of its teachers and of its educational leadership.

Teacher education policy

Teaching has never been the kind of straightforward task which an external observer might perceive it to be. It is both complex and challenging and the twenty-first century demands which teachers already face on a daily basis require the highest standards of professional competence and commitment. It may be tempting and superficially efficient to address the needs of teachers through external prescription, pre-packaged materials and specific training. However, long-term and sustained improvement which has a real impact on the quality of children's learning will be better achieved through determined efforts to build the capacity of teachers themselves to take responsibility for their own professional development, building their pedagogical expertise, engaging with the need for change, undertaking well-thought through development and always evaluating impact in relation to improvement in the quality of children's learning. That is the message from successful education systems across the world and that is the explicit philosophy upon which Curriculum for Excellence is based. Its ultimate success will depend partly on the extent to which teachers receive the kind of external support and encouragement which they need to build their professional capacity and, crucially, on how far the teaching profession itself rises to the challenge. That raises important issues about career-long teacher education and poses challenging questions for teacher educators in national organisations, universities, local authorities and schools. We need twenty-first century professionals for twenty-first century learning.

Recommendation 2

Education policy should support the creation of a reinvigorated approach to 21st century teacher professionalism. Teacher education should, as an integral part of that endeavour, address the need to build the capacity of teachers, irrespective of career stage, to have high levels of pedagogical expertise, including deep knowledge of what they are teaching; to be self-evaluative; to be able to work in partnership with other professionals; and to engage directly with well-researched innovation.

Continuum of teacher education

Teacher education is currently compartmentalised into separate components: universities look after the initial stage before the baton is handed to schools, authorities and national organisations or associations for induction and continuing professional development; and research tends to sit even further outside that set of loose relationships. Attempts to forge partnerships have had at best varying success. Shaping and supporting the kind of 21st century teacher which Scotland needs will require much stronger interconnections and collaboration than has been the case to date. We need much better alignment of values and purposes with a clear understanding of where and when the most effective contributions can be made if we are to achieve coherent and progressive development of professional expertise throughout a career.

Recommendation 3

Teacher education should be seen as and should operate as a continuum, spanning a career and requiring much better alignment across and much closer working amongst schools, authorities, universities and national organisations.

Selection of students

The foundations of a high quality teaching profession lie initially in the people recruited to become teachers. Scotland is fortunate in that it has generally enjoyed a good supply of well-qualified individuals wishing to join the profession. Approaches to selection for teacher education courses vary across universities but primacy is given to academic qualifications, usually complemented by assessment of values and social skills. In general, those arrangements have allowed the strongest candidates to be selected but there was a persistent view in evidence presented to the Review that a small but significant number of those selected lacked fundamental attributes needed to become a good teacher. Poor interpersonal skills and basic weaknesses in literacy and numeracy were often cited as issues to be addressed. Admitting students to courses within which they are unlikely to succeed is neither a good use of increasingly scarce resources nor fair to the student. We need, therefore, to improve and make more efficient the process of selection for initial teacher education courses.

Recommendation 4

Selection for entry to initial teacher education programmes should be made more rigorous, drawing on existing best practice and using a wider set of selection criteria. The possible establishment of a national assessment centre should be explored. The role of future employers should be significantly strengthened within any revised process.

Recommendation 5

Candidates for teaching should undertake diagnostic assessments of their competence in both literacy and numeracy. The threshold established for entry should allow for weaknesses to be addressed by the student during the course. A more demanding level should be set as a prerequisite for competence to teach.

Managing student numbers

Predicting teacher numbers is at best an art rather than a science. While the numbers of children are broadly known many years ahead, decisions about the curriculum, class sizes, promotion structures and posts in addition to class teaching are subject to political and economic pressures which can render the original assumptions redundant. The uncertainty is further compounded by the different levels at which decisions on such matters can be taken. Improving intelligence about local policies and trends and reducing lead times between decisions about numbers entering dedicated teaching courses and subsequent entry to employment should mitigate the effects of this uncertainty. Given continuing changeability, it is important that prospective students are able to take informed decisions about the likelihood of employment and that qualifications for teaching have currency and credibility in employment markets beyond education. Similarly, the path to return to teaching for qualified teachers who have taken employment in other fields should be eased.

Recommendation 6

The accuracy of the workforce planning model should be improved through universities and local authorities providing their latest projections on an annual basis.

Recommendation 7

Because workforce planning cannot be an exact science, steps should be taken to increase flexibility in the availability of teachers and manage fluctuations. To achieve this, students undertaking a teaching qualification should be given greater informationabout prospective employment in teaching, particularly at those points where alternative degree options might still be open to them. The marketability of transferable skills in education degrees beyond the education sector should be highlighted both to students and to employers. (See also recommendation 11 about the nature of teaching degrees).

Recommendation 8

In order to maintain a wider pool of potential teachers, individuals who have met either the Standard for Full Registration or Standard for Initial Teacher Education but have sought employment elsewhere should be encouraged to retain a reduced level of GTCS membership which gives them access to employment information and continuing professional development. Where an individual seeks to return to teaching, local authorities should provide them with relevant training to support their return to the classroom.

Entry routes

Across the world, mainly in response to teacher shortages, additional routes into teaching are emerging. Scotland at present has two main routes into teaching: an undergraduate vocational degree or a general degree followed by a postgraduate vocational qualification. While, in the immediate future, there is likely to be an oversupply of qualified teachers in Scotland, there remains a question about the extent of diversity in the workforce. While demand projections suggest no immediate pressure to multiply the number of routes significantly, there is a case for creating greater flexibility and wider access promoting greater diversity, through different combinations of high quality blended learning and part-time provision, building on the positive start made by a few universities and their partners.

Recommendation 9

Further high quality part-time provision, capitalising on the growing potential of ICT, should be developed, including the kind of model provided by the Open University in Scotland. The suitability for Scottish education of a Teach First/Teach Now model of placing students predominantly in a school for their initial teacher education should be investigated.

Initial phase of teacher education

There is much to celebrate in the way in which initial teacher education contributes to the early development of Scottish teachers. Despite significant and ongoing structural change over the last 20 years and increased expectations about what initial teacher education should include, students are generally well served by the university they attend. Universities across Scotland have created a number of interesting variations of their degree and postgraduate provision. We need to build on the best of these developments to address the needs of twenty-first century teachers.

An increasingly radical and aspirational educational agenda, economic uncertainty and inconsistent quality in current practice all point to the need to rethink the early formation of teachers. As with other stages in the teacher education continuum, we need a much more integrated partnership involving universities, authorities and schools within which professional development is a shared responsibility. Coherence between initial teacher education and induction needs to be improved by reconceptualising these into one experience: the early phase of teacher education. This will address issues of duplication, lack of continuity and progress of student and beginning teachers' learning. At present there is no formal link between these two phases.

The expectation that initial teacher education will cover all that the new teacher needs to know and do is unrealistic. Teacher education needs to be seen as something where foundations laid in the initial phase continue to be built thereafter. Expectations of how and when that deeper expertise will be acquired need to be explicit. The early phase of teacher education should be seen as a five-year experience for undergraduates and as a two-year experience for postgraduates. Within this phase, much better use can be made of the total time available, including the possibility of gaining academic recognition at Masters level, building on the positive start some universities have made to this within their current programmes. This new model also creates greater flexibility to use the long break between the two components of the phase for further study. Local authority and university staff need to work together throughout the early phase of teacher education, rather than just at the point of transition from initial teacher education and induction at present.

Recommendation 10

Initial teacher education and induction should be planned as one overall experience. This will require strengthened partnership to underpin joint delivery. It should include the possibility of Masters credits, where appropriate.

Undergraduate provision

The BEd degree, introduced in 1983, has many supporters and is generally seen as a good preparation for the classroom. Although the desirability of a specifically vocational undergraduate route into teaching has been questioned, it is clear that there remains a significant demand from students for provision of this kind. Its problem lies in being seen as too narrowly vocational which can lead to an over emphasis on technical and craft skills at the expense of broader and more academically challenging areas of study. Concurrent degrees which combine significant academic study outwith education with rigorous professional development offer a more relevant way forward. These broader degrees would encourage students and staff to engage more widely with the university as a whole and undertake academic study which is not primarily aimed at school teaching, helping to realise the original aspirations of the Sutherland Report. Such degrees might also prove more marketable for students who do not find employment in teaching, as well as offering schools teachers with additional in-depth knowledge.

Recommendation 11

In line with emerging developments across Scotland's universities, the traditional BEd degree should be phased out and replaced with degrees which combine in-depth academic study in areas beyond education with professional studies and development. These new degrees should involve staff and departments beyond those in schools of education.

Core components of the early phase

There is a wide variation in the extent to which existing degrees equip students to address the areas of greatest challenge for Scottish education. Weaknesses in the performance of children in primary education can stem in part from low levels of confidence amongst primary teachers about their own knowledge of some aspects of what they are teaching. This represents one of the greatest points of exposure of the primary teacher and is particularly the case in literacy, mathematics, science and modern foreign languages. There can be a culture which undervalues the need to have a sound understanding of what is being taught and sees the teacher as a kind of facilitator. While it is neither necessary nor feasible for a teacher to be a subject expert in all areas of the primary curriculum, we do need to ensure that teachers have sufficient understanding to stretch and progress children's learning and to diagnose and remedy any conceptual or other learning problems which may undermine their progress. There must remain real doubt about how far the current approach fully satisfies children's right to be taught by someone who is fully in command of their subject matter. While the generalist teacher with responsibility for a group of children should remain at the heart of primary education, existing moves to develop specialisms within each school should be encouraged.

In addition to developing their subject and pedagogical knowledge and skills, all new (and existing) teachers should be confident in their ability to address underachievement, including the potential effects of social disadvantage; to teach the essential skills of literacy and numeracy; to address additional support needs (particularly dyslexia and autistic spectrum disorders); to assess effectively in the context of the deep learning required by Curriculum for Excellence; and to know how to manage challenging behaviour.

There is scope to ask students to undertake more customised self-study using high-quality distance learning approaches. At present, all students have broadly the same set of inputs, irrespective of what they bring to the course. Greater clarity about entry expectations allied to support to bridge gaps between a student's current knowledge and those expectations would reduce some of the pressure on course teaching time and provide a more solid base upon which to build.

One of the greatest difficulties facing teacher educators is meeting the ever wider demands on course time. This 'quart-into-pint-pot' problem is at its most acute in the postgraduate route into primary teaching. Solutions can be sought in identifying core components, and so reducing or rephasing expectations of how much will be covered and when, increasing the available time, or expecting more of students themselves. The answer would seem to lie in a combination of all three.

Recommendation 12

Increased emphasis should be given to ensuring that primary students have sufficient understanding of the areas they are expected to teach. Supporting online resources should be developed which address the fundamentals of each area to be taught together with implications for pedagogy.

Recommendation 13

Clear expectations about necessary prior learning for teacher education courses should be developed together with diagnostic assessments and online resources to allow students to reach that baseline in advance of formally embarking on a course. This mechanism could also be used to support existing teachers.

Recommendation 14

The professional component in programmes of initial teacher education should address more directly areas where teachers experience greatest difficulty and where we know that Scottish education needs to improve. That will require a radical reappraisal of present courses and of the guidelines provided by GTCS.

School experience in the initial phase

School experience is a vital part of preparation for teaching. However, the proportion of time given to placements and what happens during placements remain contentious. For many, if not most students and teachers, placement provides the opportunity to develop and hone the skills required for the classroom. However, it should do much more than provide practice in classroom skills, vital though these are. Experience in a school provides the opportunity to use practice to explore theory and examine relevant research evidence. It should also establish those habits of reflection, self-evaluation and teamwork which are essential attributes of the twenty-first century professional.

The school experience should be seen not as complementary to what happens in the university but as integral to the total experience of teacher education. Students should, for example, be introduced to the wider responsibilities of a teacher, including working with parents and other professionals. That increased breadth will require a strong and mutual partnership between the school and the university, the teacher and the tutor. Within that strengthened partnership, schools should take prime responsibility for assessing the student as a developing professional as described in this report. That will have implications for the nature of partnership working and would be further enhanced by an extension of joint staffing. We need to ensure that aspirations for improving partnerships are translated into reality for all student teachers in Scotland. Radical changes to the dynamics between partners, and new ways of working, including establishing 'hub teaching schools' as a focal point for research, learning and teaching are suggested throughout this report.

The experience of students in schools, while generally positive, is also subject to wide variation. At present steps to quality assure and improve those placement experiences have been undermined by the pressure to secure sufficient places. However, given the vital importance of this element in teacher education, poor quality placements cannot be seen as acceptable.

Recommendation 15

New and strengthened models of partnership among universities, local authorities, schools and individual teachers need to be developed. These partnerships should be based on jointly agreed principles and involve shared responsibility for key areas of teacher education.

Recommendation 16

Exploration of theory through practice should be central to all placement experiences - emphasising effective professional practice, reflection, critical analysis and evidence-based decision making.

Recommendation 17

School-based placements should be in schools which meet quality standards. They should provide an effective professional learning environment and the capacity to mentor and assess student teachers.

Recommendation 18

Students' views on the quality of placements should be used to inform decisions about the suitability of schools for placement and help to ensure a consistently high quality experience.

Recommendation 19

Stronger quality assurance of the effectiveness of partnerships should be applied by GTCS through their accreditation procedures and HM Inspectors in their inspections of teacher education and of schools. School inspections should include, where relevant, evaluations of the quality of the mentoring and assessment arrangements for students and newly-qualified teachers as well as of continuing professional development.

Recommendation 20

Suitably trained school staff should have the prime role in the assessment of students whilst on placement. New models of joint staffing should be developed to enhance the quality and impact of the placement experience.

Recommendation 21

To ensure that the model of placement reflects the broader and evolving roles of teachers, it should include more substantial experience for all prospective teachers in relating to parents and working with other professionals.

Improving impact

There are unacceptably wide variations in the overall quality of students' university experience. In many cases expectations and standards seemed to be set by individual members of university or school staff. While academic freedom has to be respected that should not preclude common criteria and interpretations of those criteria being established. Clearer guidelines and stronger evaluation procedures are needed to create greater equity in the way students are guided and assessed. University-based teacher educators need to provide the highest quality of teaching and learning experiences for student teachers. Their role is demanding and complex; senior managers should ensure that research complements university staff's primary responsibility for teaching students. A greater range of evidence on the effectiveness of learning and teaching within initial teacher education programmes needs to be developed and used to drive further improvement.

Recommendation 22

Providers of initial teacher education programmes should develop, in partnership with employers, means of gauging the effectiveness and impact of their programmes in the short and medium terms.

Staffing issues

Supporting students to develop into highly professional teachers depends critically on the competence and credibility of those who work with them. Students are entitled to expect that they are being taught, mentored and assessed by highly competent and well-trained staff. However, there remains a degree of scepticism about the currency of some members of university staff's understanding of the realities of today's classrooms. Similarly, teachers who work with students rarely receive any training in mentoring or assessing students. Examples of good practice in both universities and authorities across Scotland should become more the norm and will be assisted by the kind of partnership working and joint staffing recommended in this Report.

Recommendation 23

Through any reaccreditation arrangements, the GTCS should ensure that those involved in the front line of teacher education in universities and schools are fully ready for that task. University-based teacher educators should have a responsibility to undertake an agreed programme of CPD each year.

Recommendation 24

Flexible staffing models for initial teacher education, induction and CPD should be developed by local authorities and the universities to allow movement of staff and dual appointments. As well as potentially improving coherence, this will help to achieve the aspiration of teaching being a research-informed profession.

Induction within the initial phase

The teacher induction scheme places Scotland at the forefront of education systems across the world in recognising and supporting this important period in a new teacher's career. The guaranteed paid year of teaching, protected time for professional development and provision of support through mentoring are all examples of best practice. There are, however, a number of ways in which the year could be used more productively as part of a more coherent and continuous approach to teacher education overall. The 'world-class' entitlements of the induction year are not always matched by 'world-class' content within the programme.

Induction should build seamlessly from initial teacher education and lead directly into further professional development relating to the early stages of a teaching career. At present, universities, local authorities and schools cooperate to manage transitions but, as described earlier, much more active collaboration is required if best use is to be made of available time. Most of the pieces are in place. The challenge is to use them to best effect. Many newly-qualified teachers feel that they would benefit from continued contact with university staff within their induction experience, as they refine and continue to develop their skills and professional competences. There should be maximum opportunities within the induction scheme for new teachers to tailor and personalise the content to meet their own professional learning needs. It is critical to instil a desire to own, lead and be responsible for CPD, rather than having it 'done to you', from the outset of a teacher's career.

Recommendation 25

In order to improve continuity and coherence for new teachers, university-based teacher educators should have a role in the development and delivery of induction schemes.

Recommendation 26

To support more effective management of personal and professional development a new system of online profiling should be developed. This should integrate progress, targets and next steps from the outset of initial teacher education, through induction and into continuous professional development.

Mentoring

Good mentoring is central to the success of the induction scheme and is highly valued by the new teachers involved. Approaches to the selection, training and monitoring of mentors vary widely and some lack necessary rigour and commitment. There are also tensions between the joint roles of supporter and assessor which mentors have increasingly been asked to play. We have strong examples of good practice, nationally and internationally, upon which to build a more consistently high standard of support for all new teachers.

Recommendation 27

Local authorities and national bodies should develop approaches to quality assure and improve mentoring.

Recommendation 28

Mentors should be selected carefully and undertake training based on a recognition of the skills and capacities required for this role.

Recommendation 29

The roles and responsibilities of different individuals within the teacher induction scheme need to be updated and clarified. Given the potential tension in the assessment and support functions of mentors, all new teachers in Scotland should have access to a mentor and a supporter.

Use of time

The protected time for professional development is an important and integral part of the scheme. It reflects an increasingly strong belief internationally in the importance of front-loading time for professional development as an investment in future quality. The explicit firmness of the entitlement also protects new teachers to some extent from pressure to meet short-term staffing pressures in a school. However, maintaining the same level of non-contact time for every new teacher over the full year is unduly inflexible.

Recommendation 30

The overall level of non-contact time in the induction scheme should build more directly and progressively from initial teacher education. The use made of the time should allow greater flexibility and personalisation.

Early-career teachers

Even after initial teacher education and induction, no teacher should consider themselves to be 'the finished article'. The needs of new teachers need to be carefully assessed, building from the profile developed in their earlier stages of their education.

Recommendation 31

Early career teachers should continue to benefit from mentoring beyond induction. Additional support should be provided by senior managers within schools and local authorities to ensure appropriate progression as part of the CPD and PRD process.

Flexible probation

Not all newly-qualified teachers enter the induction scheme. Those who follow the flexible route do not benefit from the kind of support provided on the scheme and are likely to have the kind of limited experience which was criticised in the McCrone Report. More needs to be done to ensure that this small but important group of new teachers have more opportunity to develop professionally.

Recommendation 32

The flexible route to achieving the standard for full registration should include access to CPD and structured support. This needs to be led and coordinated by local authorities who choose to employ flexible route probationers.

Approaches to CPD

The foundations of effective continuous professional development ( CPD) for Scottish teachers are strong. Their contractual entitlement and requirement to undertake paid continuous professional development is the envy of their counterparts internationally. There is also no lack of provision of courses and resources covering a wide range of topics. Cluster grouping and professional networking, face-to-face or using Glow and other online mechanisms, is growing. However, despite these many positive features, there remains a huge variation in the engagement of individual teachers in high quality personal and professional development. In terms of courses and conferences, there is increasingly strong evidence that set-piece one-off events, however good, have limited lasting impact. The most powerful professional development is often undertaken locally, in teams, and is designed to lead to a tangible outcome in a school or cluster of schools. Self evaluation, reflection and inquiry are in themselves potentially powerful tools for professional development. Similarly, individual teachers comparing and learning from each other's practice through approaches such as peer observation are likely to have immediate impact. An external stimulus is often needed to challenge assumptions, stimulate ideas and illustrate new teaching approaches. Such a stimulus needs to be high quality and relevant.

Recommendation 33

The balance of CPD activities should continue to shift from set-piece events to more local, team-based approaches which centre around self evaluation and professional collaboration, and achieve an appropriate blend of tailored individual development and school improvement.

Evaluation of CPD

It is rare for CPD activities to be defined and evaluated in relation to their intended impact on pupils. More attention to assessing the value added of CPD would improve its focus, increase the likelihood of impact and improve efficiency overall.

Recommendation 34

Teachers and schools should plan and evaluate CPD more directly on its intended impact on young people's progress and achievements.

Professional Standards

The standards for initial teacher education and for full registration together with those for chartered teachers and headship form the key reference points for the personal professional development of individual teachers. The increased coherence which this Review is advocating must therefore be reflected in those standards. Although developed separately, there are clear and deliberate linkages between them. The time is now ripe to review the set as whole in order to ensure that the individual standards form a coherent framework. In addition, and with professional updating in view, there is a need to develop a further set of expectations relating to more experienced teachers. This standard should be explicit about the core knowledge, skills and competences that all teachers need to continually refresh and improve as they progress through their careers. It should be designed to help teachers to improve their skills and competences. As part of this process, all teachers should have an online profile which records the focus and use of their CPD, and the impact on young people and colleagues with whom they work.

Recommendation 35

The Professional Standards need to be revised to create a coherent overarching framework and enhanced with practical illustrations of the Standards. This overall framework should reflect a reconceptualised model of teacher professionalism.

Recommendation 36

A new 'Standard for Active Registration' should be developed to clarify expectations of how fully registered teachers are expected to continue to develop their skills and competences. This standard should be challenging and aspirational, fully embracing enhanced professionalism for teachers in Scotland.

Relevance and impact of CPD

A frequent complaint about CPD is that teachers do not see a sufficiently close relationship to their personal needs or to the developmental priorities of the school or more widely. Decisions about continuing professional development flow in large measure from the need to take forward national, local or school developments and policies. Each teacher has a professional review and development ( PRD) meeting with a senior member of staff at least annually. However, evidence given to the Review suggests that, too often, the PRD process has limited credibility and fails to reconcile effectively the competing demands of external and personal learning needs.

Improved PRD is an essential part of managing continuing professional development more efficiently and effectively. Resources, both in time and money, are limited and links between personal development and national and local priorities are not always sufficiently clear. As a result potentially helpful support can be dismissed as irrelevant or unhelpful. More rigorous prioritising of external demands for CPD is needed. There is also a need to prioritise an individual's own CPD programme by relating it more directly to expected, and preferably tangible, outcomes for children's learning. The Standard for Active Registration proposed in recommendation 36 together with GTCS reaccreditation should provide a firmer basis for PRD discussions.

Recommendation 37

At the outset of any CPD activity, the intended impact on young people, and the aspects of the relevant professional standard the teacher will improve as a result of the activity, should be clear. Subsequent PRD discussions should review progress with previous intentions. This process should be captured in a continuing online profile of professional development.

Recommendation 38

New national initiatives should include a teacher education strategy, based on what we know about managing effective change in education.

Broadening the concept of a teacher educator

Mentoring is central to professional development at all stages in a teacher's career and all teachers should see themselves as mentors of not just of students and newly qualified teachers but more generally. The required skills should be developed and refreshed through initial teacher education, induction and CPD. These skills in mentoring are used to support the development of colleagues, as well as to help equip teachers with the skills to provide all young people with the high quality of personal support to which they are entitled as part of Curriculum for Excellence. When extending mentoring provision, priority should be given to continuing to mentor early career teachers, to ensure greater continuity of professional learning from the induction year.

Recommendation 39

All teachers should see themselves as teacher educators and be trained in mentoring.

Online CPD

Although not currently favoured by many teachers as their preferred mode of learning, there can be no doubt that much more extensive online provision will be central to future continuing professional development. Much useful material already exists, including resources provided by the Open University. Scepticism and resistance amongst many staff has to be met with very high quality resources and easy access. Scotland has made a useful start to creating more coordinated online support but further development is required if it is to be widely used and fully effective.

Recommendation 40

Online CPD should be part of the blended, tailored approach to CPD for all teachers.

Recommendation 41

Building on the positive start made by the National CPD Team to ' CPD find' a national 'one stop shop' should be developed for teachers to access online CPD opportunities.

Focus of CPD

Much of the CPD which has been offered in recent years has been generic in nature. Despite strong evidence about specific needs for deeper subject understanding and a desire for reinvigoration of subject expertise, subject-specific and sector-specific provision has been much less prominent. The strong uptake of high quality training given by bodies such as SSERC in science or SCILT in modern languages is indicative of a wider need. Immediate priorities might be the teaching of modern languages in primary schools, science, aspects of mathematics and Gaelic.

Recommendation 42

Teachers should have access to high quality CPD for their subject and other specialist responsibilities.

Recommendation 43

National strategies need to be developed to prioritise and address areas within the curriculum where evidence, such as from national and international benchmarking or inspection, shows that there is a particular need to improve learning, teaching and attainment.

Advanced qualifications

Award-bearing CPD is expensive and resource intensive but should nonetheless be part of an improved overall CPD strategy. Evidence about the relationship between, for example, Masters qualifications and the quality of educational outcomes is not sufficiently compelling to suggest that Scotland should move quickly to a 'Masters-level profession'. However, evidence from the Review suggests that many teachers would value more opportunities to acquire such qualifications and their developmental implications should not be underestimated.

Recommendation 44

A greater range of CPD should be formally accredited. Masters level credits should be built into initial teacher education qualifications, induction year activities and CPD beyond the induction year, with each newly-qualified teacher having a 'Masters account' opened for them.

Accomplished teachers

The introduction of chartered teachers following the Teachers' Agreement has proved controversial. There is a strong body of opinion that these posts should be discontinued, not least because of their impact on education budgets in times of severe financial restraint. However, countries across the world are looking at ways of recognising and rewarding 'accomplished' teachers and the original concept in the McCrone Report of giving recognition to our 'best' teachers retains some resonance. The challenge is to ensure that chartered teachers are in reality our 'best' teachers and that they add significant value to children's learning either directly or through their work with colleagues. That implies better selection of candidates for chartered teacher programmes and clearer expectations of the ways in which they will add value. There is also a case for confirming that chartered teachers continue to meet the standard over time.

Recommendation 45

The award of Chartered Teacher status should be based on a range of evidence, including improved teaching skills and significant impact on improving the learning of the young people and colleagues with whom they work. The award should be reviewed as part of PRD and professional reaccreditation. Local authorities should have greater control over the number of teachers who apply for the award.

Leadership pathways

Leadership is central to educational quality and the success of much of what is recommended in this report will depend on the quality of educational leadership in Scotland. Much attention has been paid to leadership training in recent years, with an increasing focus on leadership for learning and distributive forms of leadership. This extensive range of different types of leadership training contains much interesting and innovative practice. However, no clear and consistent pathway can be identified nationally and there is no guarantee that appropriate training can be accessible locally for those aspiring to formal leadership positions. At the highest level, the Scottish Qualification for Headship remains important although the traditional route has been replaced by the flexible route to headship in some authorities.

Recommendation 46

A clear, progressive educational leadership pathway should be developed, and embodies the responsibility of all leaders to build the professional capacity of staff and ensure a positive impact on young people's learning. Account should be taken of the relationship between theory and practical preparation, including deployment to developmental roles.

Recommendation 47

The impact of the routes to achieving the Standard for Headship should be evaluated to inform further development of flexible routes.

Experienced headteachers

Many experienced headteachers rely heavily on professional associations and local events for their professional development. The future success of Scottish education will in large measure be dependent on the expertise and commitment of these headteachers. We need to do more both to develop them personally and to harness their insight in developing and taking forward local and national policy. Many local authorities consult and engage with their most experienced headteachers as leading officers of their authority. There is, however, no equivalent means of achieving such engagement at the national level. While preserving the benefits of diversity, including its local responsiveness, there is a need to capture the best of current practice and to stimulate its wider dissemination.

Recommendation 48

A greater range of CPD opportunities should be provided for experienced headteachers, from the middle years of headship onwards. The new national leadership pathway should not stop at headship, but should include ways in which experienced headteachers can continue to develop and refresh their skills and competences.

Recommendation 49

A scheme for national leaders of education should be developed to enable experienced, high-performing headteachers to contribute to system-level leadership of education in Scotland.

Recommendation 50

A virtual college of school leadership should be developed to improve leadership capacity at all levels within Scottish education.

The conclusions and recommendations of this Review have significant implications for how we organise support for 21st century education both locally and nationally. The need for better alignment, stronger partnerships, a clearer and more rigorous determination of priorities and much greater attention to impact have been recurrent themes throughout. Much of what may be required relates to culture and working relationships but there is also a need to achieve greater efficiency and impact at all levels in the system.