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Scottish Government 'worryingly silent' on teacher excellence - but school pupils won't be

Scottish Government plans for empowering schools fall worryingly short in the area of teacher excellence – but children and young people have a vital contribution to make through a new project run by Children in Scotland in partnership with the General Teaching Council of Scotland.

Responding to the Scottish Government’s consultation on Provisions of the Education (Scotland) Bill, Children in Scotland’s Chief Executive Jackie Brock said:

“Robust international evidence, for example from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, makes clear that the key to excellent learning is excellent teaching. This is also the approach taken in many countries with leading education systems such as Finland.

“But the government’s proposals are silent on how excellent teaching will be encouraged, supported and improved on. They also fail to reflect wider work, knowledge and understanding within Scottish education – and the fact that we should be listening to young people on this important issue.”

There is a similar problem in relation to expectations of how headteachers can fulfill their critical role supporting excellence among their teachers, Ms Brock said.

“We do not want to see any distraction from support to schools and teachers to achieve Curriculum for Excellence and to deliver our ambitions of achieving equity and excellence. At present, we believe more persuasive evidence and proposals are required to demonstrate that the principles outlined in the government’s empowering schools proposals will deliver this.”

Children in Scotland’s response comes as it launches a landmark pupil participation project with the General Teaching Council of Scotland.

The charity is working with the GTCS to review and refresh the Professional Values section of the Teaching Standards for Scotland, which identify how a teacher should work to promote a positive learning environment for children and young people.

Announcing the project, Children in Scotland’s Head of Policy Amy Woodhouse said:

“We are delighted to be working with the GTCS to update the Professional Values section of the Teaching Standards. This is a milestone in terms of pupil participation and ensuring that young people have a chance to contribute to teachers’ development.

“GTCS want to put the experiences and views of children and young people at the centre of this work. They know that pupils are the experts when it comes to what makes a good teacher and how that actually looks and feels in the classroom and around school. “

As part of the work, starting today (2 February), schools and youth groups across Scotland will be surveyed and asked to contribute their views. Teachers and youth leaders will be provided with age-appropriate resources they can use to work on with young people, and Children in Scotland will undertake direct consultation work with five schools.

Other key points in Children in Scotland’s response to the empowering schools consultation include:

  • Concerns over lack of clarity around how current governance structures are preventing headteachers from responding to local need effectively and how the proposed reforms will support them to meet the needs of their school community more effectively
  • Concern that control of funding for additional support for learning at school level could result in a postcode lottery in provision for ASL pupils, and
  • The need for consideration to be given to introducing a duty on headteachers to report on pupil participation.

Policy projects

Find out more about the GTCS participation project, and other projects currently underway in the Our Work section of the website

Find out more

Read our consultation response

Download a copy of Empowering Schools: A consultation of the provisions in the Education (Scotland) Bill

Download here