Teacher career pathways in Scotland (updated)

Newly established panel seeks your views on teacher career progression (Article from Independent Panel on Career Pathways). See also upcoming regional events.

By Richard Fraser, Editor

Supporting teachers through a career pathway which values all aspects of their teaching is vital.

Under the current system – where promotion comes hand in hand with management – this could mean a lack of career progression for some practitioners.

However, a new panel examining a range of teacher career pathways is set to review this model, offering up recommendations for practitioners in Scotland.

The Extended Joint Chairs of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) agreed that an independent panel should be established to consider the design and development of teacher career pathway models, with its recommendations being reported back to the SNCT.

The Scottish Government, on behalf of the SNCT, therefore established the independent panel – made up of 19 key stakeholders [including Voice Scotland] – in June.

Under the Independent Chair of Moyra Boland, Deputy Head of the School of Education at the University of Glasgow, the panel has already met once and plans to report back its recommendations by the end of the year.

“A paper was published looking to establish new career pathways which allowed greater opportunities to progress into different aspects of leadership and specialisms,” explained Moyra.

“The panel has created a number of different work streams and we are looking to offer every single teacher in Scotland the opportunity to work with us and talk about their futures and where they see their futures in terms of career progression.

“We are looking at all career pathways that can be taken once you are a fully qualified teacher. “Presently there is one pathway: principal teacher, deputy head, headteacher, then maybe local authority, Education Scotland or HMIE.

“That pathway is not fit for an empowered workforce.”

The panel has commissioned a literature review to look at a variety of other countries – possibly including Australia, Canada, Finland, Singapore and England – to learn what works from their systems.

The panel is also seeking to work with people who have left the profession to find out why they did so, and whether different pathways might have encouraged them to stay in teaching.

But, most importantly, the panel wants to work with teachers currently working in Scottish schools to find out what new career pathways are important to them, and ensure that every voice is heard.

Moyra said:

“We are really determined as a panel that our teachers work with us to shape their futures.

“This is really important for our teachers. If they are going to be an empowered workforce, it’s important we support them in that ambition.”

The new pathways should provide opportunities for teachers to diversify their careers, as well as supporting high-quality teaching and learning while helping to deliver excellent educational outcomes for pupils.

New pathways could include subject specialism, curricular leadership, pedagogical leadership and support for learning, headship and beyond.

Moyra said:

“Are there other ways rather than the existing pathways?

“Is it a Master's-level profession? Are sabbaticals important? Where do people who become headteachers go beyond that?

“How can we create a career structure which supports our teachers and ultimately provides the best education for our pupils?

“At the moment, what we are trying to do is ask those big questions and acknowledge that Scotland is a very specific context. It’s a small country with a very ambitious education system.

“We will then compile a report which will recommend new career pathways for teachers in Scotland.”

The panel includes representatives from teacher organisations, GTC Scotland, Education Scotland, the universities and Scottish Government.

Further information

See upcoming regional events.

A call for evidence and stakeholder engagement will be conducted from September to October 2018. Please participate and let your views be known.


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