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Teaching Scotland's future

Published: 10 Mar 2016 16:22
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Report published on teacher education highlights progress.

Scotland's Minister for Learning has welcomed a report outlining progress in teacher education across the country.

The Teaching Scotland's Future publication covers teacher education, university and local authority partnerships, as well as career learning and mentoring.

Alasdair Allan, Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland's Languages, said:

"The report clearly shows that real progress has been made in many areas of teacher education and that a significant change in the culture of professional learning is taking place. Working with partners across the sector, the Scottish Government has demonstrated a sustained investment in the teaching profession and this investment is clearly showing through positive results.

"We have been consistently clear that the quality of our teaching workforce and Scotland's educational leadership provide the bedrock of our education system and the country can be proud to have a highly-professional, graduate teaching profession with excellent standards. This is backed by the recent OECD report which highlighted Scotland's historic high regard for learning, education and teachers, and the trust we place in teachers' professional judgement.

"Our highly skilled and motivated teaching profession works hard to ensure children are provided with the best educational experience possible. But it is important they continue to develop and supporting professional learning has been a priority since the publication of the Teaching Scotland's Future Report. We know this is an area that requires further attention that's why the need for high quality professional learning is also reflected in the National Improvement Framework.

"Today marks a milestone with the publication of an independent evaluation of Teaching Scotland's Future's implementation. The report highlights a culture change in Scottish education with teachers more willing to try new approaches and more focused on their professional learning. The profession should congratulate itself on that achievement."

Notes to editors

The evaluation report can be found at

The evaluation found evidence of real progress in many areas of teacher education and, above all, there has been a significant shift in the culture of professional learning. This shift in culture was demonstrated in four key areas of improvement:

  • teachers are more engaged with professional learning. Several interrelated aspects to this increased engagement were identified: heightened awareness of the importance of professional learning; a move away from a conception of professional learning as 'going on a course' and a broader understanding of the range of professional learning activities; increased ownership by individual teachers' of their Career Long Professional Learning (CLPL); and an increased focus on learning relevant to a teacher's own particular development needs.
  • there is a greater focus on the impact of professional learning on pupils. Decisions about what professional learning to undertake are now more likely to involve a consideration of the needs of the individual pupils that a teacher is working with.
  • there is a consensus that teachers are engaging in professional dialogue more often and that there has been a cultural shift towards more openness, sharing of experience and willingness to talk about pedagogy.
  • there is a greater willingness to try new approaches. One important marker of the change in culture is that a sizeable minority of teachers (41%) say that they try new teaching practices and strategies more often than they did five years ago (40% say they try them the same amount and 18% say they try them less often).

In addition to this cultural shift, there have been a number of specific improvements to teacher education at all stages:

  • At the Initial Teacher Education and early career stage, partnerships between LAs and universities have developed further, and support for students on placement and probationary teachers has improved.
  • In relation to CLPL, the proportion of teachers reporting that they face barriers in accessing professional learning has greatly decreased in the last five years, from 68% in 2010 to 42% in 2015. This is, in part, due to their increased participation in a wider range of different professional learning activities and, in particular, an increase in collaborative working and in-school activity.
  • There has also been a substantial increase in the number of teachers participating in mentoring/coaching and indications of an increased interest in, and increased provision of, professional learning opportunities to develop mentoring and coaching skills.
  • Although there was already a considerable focus on leadership prior to TSF, it has increased further and teachers (at all career stages) are more aware of opportunities to develop their leadership skills. The new General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) Standard for Leadership and Management has helped clarify the pathway for formal leadership positions. Leadership skills are the main focus for head teachers' CLPL and they reported that both the range and the number of high quality CLPL opportunities available to them have increased over the past five years.