Independent panel on career pathways for teachers: final report

Description of work undertaken by the group and its recommendations for the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT).

Section 3: Scottish Education Policy Context

3.1 Scotland's developing educational policy provides the context for this Report and was part of the evidence considered by the Panel.

3.2 The current career structure for Scotland's teachers was established as a result of 'A Teaching Profession for the 21st Century' (2001), the agreement reached following the recommendations of the McCrone Inquiry into professional conditions of service for teachers.

3.3 The agreement established 'an improved and simplified career structure for all teachers.' The new structure was introduced in April 2002 and was applied across all sectors.

The current structure is illustrated below.

Teacher career pathways current structure

3.4 The policy context has changed considerably since 2002 and therefore it is time to reconsider the career pathways available for teachers.

3.5 The reducing availability of promoted posts in Scottish teaching arguably does not enhance the idea of teaching as a profession with strong career progression routes. The end of the Chartered Teacher Scheme in 2012 reduced career options for teachers who wanted to expand their role without leaving behind classroom teaching. The development of Faculty Head roles in many local authorities created a significant jump from class teacher to Faculty Head. More recently the introduction of the Pupil Equity Fund (PEF) has increased the range and scope of posts in some schools and authorities. Figures from the annual teacher census show that the number of teachers in promoted posts fell each year from 2010 to 2016 before rising slightly in 2017. Over this period the share of teachers who are in promoted posts across primary and secondary schools has fallen from 27.3% to 24.4%.

3.6 Given the vital role of teachers in improving children and young people's learning and the outcomes that they achieve, the need to continue to attract and retain excellent teachers is strongly recognised. Further, the importance of school leadership is widely acknowledged and therefore we need to support more teachers to become Headteachers and to ensure that headship is seen as an attractive and fulfilling career choice.

3.7 Over the last decade in Scotland, education policy has given significant priority to strengthening the quality of teachers and educational leadership. The publication of Teaching Scotland's Future in 2010 highlighted the importance of sustained teacher professional learning and development in improving outcomes for young people. It also emphasised the importance of career pathways in supporting teacher recruitment and retention. The wide-ranging recommendations from the report, implemented through strong partnership working with national organisations, professional associations, local and national government, resulted in a number of significant policy developments relevant to the work of the Career Pathways Panel, including:

  • revision of GTCS Standards, creating a coherent overarching Standards framework and reflecting a reconceptualised model of teacher professionalism
  • increased focus on the impact of professional learning on outcomes for young people, supported by the GTCS Professional Update process
  • significant increases in pathways into teaching through ITE and other flexible routes
  • significant increase in teacher engagement in masters learning, supported by Scottish Government funding in this area
  • establishment of the Scottish College for Educational Leadership (SCEL) and the subsequent development of the Framework for Educational Leadership and a coherent suite of national leadership development programmes.

3.8 Despite this sustained policy commitment to teacher professional learning, recruitment and retention of teachers remains an issue, and there have been a number of related policy initiatives in recent years to attempt to address this. With specific reference to Headteachers, in September 2015, the Scottish Government commissioned the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES) to report on the apparent reduction in the number of applicants for Headteacher posts across Scotland and to outline improvements to remedy the situation. The report of the ADES review group summarised key issues and made recommendations concerning:

  • a national action plan
  • career pathways and preparation for headship
  • support for Headteachers
  • terms, conditions and incentives
  • promoting the role of Headteachers

3.9 Following the publication of the review group's report, a national working group was established to develop an action plan with a specific focus on Headteacher recruitment and retention. The Scottish Government's Education Governance Review ran in parallel with the first phase of the Working Group, which resulted in the group temporarily pausing its plans for a national action plan given the interaction between Headteacher recruitment and the changing nature of the Headteacher role. The Working Group published its report in November 2018, making a number of recommendations to support Headteacher recruitment and retention. The group welcomed the establishment of the Independent Panel looking at Career Pathways, recognising that the group will consider pathways into, within and beyond headship as part of the broader discussion about career pathways in teaching.

3.10 In June 2017, the Scottish Government published 'Next Steps: Empowering our teachers, parents and communities to deliver excellence and equity for our children and young people which set out plans for significant reform to school education - creating a school and teacher-led education system, and placing decision-making about a child's education as far as possible in the hands of those working most closely with the child. These reforms are backed by a number of supports, including a commitment to enhanced career and development opportunities for teachers. A joint agreement between Scottish Government and COSLA is in place, with a commitment to working collaboratively to achieve the shared aims outlined in Next Steps. All partners recognise that effective system-wide improvement requires clarity of purpose, strong leadership and collaborative working at all layers of the system - school, local, regional and national.

Headteachers' Charter

3.11 The establishment of a Headteachers' Charter will support the empowerment of schools and ensure Headteachers have more control of key decisions on curriculum, improvement, staffing and budgets in their schools, working collaboratively with their school community. The Headteachers charter and guidance published on 8 February 2019 as an agreed draft has been developed in partnership with teacher representatives to ensure they are useful for practitioners.

Regional Improvement Collaboratives (RICs)

3.12 Following agreement between the Scottish Government and COSLA, 6 Regional Improvement Collaborative (RIC) areas have been established across Scotland. Their function is to strengthen the support that our schools and education professionals receive in order to close the attainment gap and improve outcomes for pupils. The aim of the RICs is to bring together and enhance local authority, Education Scotland and other expertise, to ensure that schools across Scotland receive consistent, responsive and high quality improvement support which has a positive impact on children's learning.

Professional Standards

3.13 GTCS maintains a suite of Professional Standards which are underpinned by the themes of values, sustainability and leadership. Professional values are at the core of the Standards. The current Standards came into effect on 1 August 2013 and are currently being revised in light of changing contexts within education and society. Teachers in the 21st century need to be critically informed with professional values, knowledge and actions that ensure positive impact on learners and learning. The Standards for Registration provide the quality mark for entry into teaching in Scotland and it should be noted that Full Registration continues to be the baseline Professional Standard for Competence. The revised Professional Standards and Code of Professionalism and Conduct are due for publication in June 2020.

Professional Learning

3.14 In September 2018 Education Scotland launched a new model of professional learning designed to support the learning of all Scotland's teachers. This national model of professional development outlines the kind of learning that will empower education professionals and enable them to best meet the needs of children and young people. The model provides a renewed and enhanced focus on professional learning and leadership, and can be used by those leading, developing, providing and supporting learning.

Teaching in a Diverse Scotland

3.15 In November 2018, the Diversity in the Teaching Profession Working Group published the Teaching in a Diverse Scotland: Increasing and Retaining Minority Ethnic Teachers Report. The report aims to increase the number of teachers from under-represented groups at all levels across school education and focuses on five key themes: closing the awareness gap; the attractiveness of ITE to students from minority ethnic background; the effectiveness of university admissions processes in attracting a diverse range of applicants; student placement experiences; retaining students and teachers from minority backgrounds; and supporting promotion at all levels. This work is a direct result of recommendations published in the Race Equality Framework (2016) which made a commitment to ensure Scotland's education workforce better reflects the diversity of its communities. In 2019, the working group, which is represented by sector leads and race equality experts, will work collaboratively to ensure the recommendations are embedded across Scottish education.

Equality Legislation

3.16 The Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED), created in the Equality Act 2010, places a duty on public bodies to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between different people when carrying out their activities. The duty came into force in April 2011 and covers age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; sexual orientation.



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