Sunday, 18 September 2016

What is the purpose of education?

In the run up to the Scottish Learning Festival this week, I have been thinking a lot about professionalism and values and why these are so important. This then led me to the biggest question of all, which is, what is the purpose of education? How do values and professionalism tie in with the purposes of education? So here are some thoughts.

In discussing the purpose of education, there is often a narrow view about the products of education and the current theories of learning are insufficient to capture what education is about. Education can be described as multi-dimensional. The multi-dimensions that it serves are economic, social, spiritual, cultural and political aspects of individuals lives. Education for the masses was originally about promoting a literate society, which has evolved to a learned society where educators are being asked to prepare young people for their futures in a rapidly changing world and to enable them to compete in a global economy.  Politicians often discuss education in terms of economic capital, being a cornerstone of society and essential for developing life skills.

Key documents in Scottish Education such as those relating to the Scottish Attainment Challenge, the National Improvement Framework and Curriculum for Excellence all have as a central tenet that the purpose of education is to create a more successful country with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth. This is to ensure that all our children and young people are equipped through their education, to become successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens, the 4 capacities of Curriculum for Excellence.

According the Biesta (2010), the point of education is “not that students learn but that students learn something, that they learn for a reason, and that they learn it from someone”, [original emphasis]. This can be restated as students need to learn - content with purpose within a relationship. The purpose of education is multi-dimensional and Biesta (2010) has suggested three domains of purpose which are interdependent and these are;

·         Transmission

o   qualifications (the acquisition of knowledge, skills and dispositions)

·         Socialisation

o   traditions and ethical norms for their culture

·         Subjectification

o   impact on the student as their own person

Learning is more about developing skills and capacities to keep pace with the changing global economy. When we are born we have innate instinct that can keep us alive but our ability to learn and to continue learning is what makes us human. We learn to continue to feed our brains new experiences, creating new connections and to reinforce existing connections. However, most of what we learn before, during, and after attending schools is learned without its being taught to us. We learn more from independent study, play through interacting with others informally, sharing our learning and through trial and error.

The language of learning is insufficient for expressing what matters in education and has moved teachers and learning into the abstract of ‘supporting’ or ‘promoting’ learning, while discounting the ‘of what’ and ‘for what’ in the learning. ‘Learnification’ is a term coined by Biesta (2010) to describe the ‘new language for learning’ which has been created in the discourse. This ‘learnification’ has moved the language to everyone being described as ‘learners’, schools becoming ‘places of learning’ and adult education becoming ‘life-long learning’.

So the purpose of education can be considered from two different world views. The first, the formal world, which consists of schools, further and higher education, creating a standardised model of ‘21st century learners’. The second, the informal world, where knowledge, information and skills are transmitted to the willing by the wise.


Biesta, G. (2015); What is education for? On Good Education, teacher Judgement, and Educational Professionalism: European Journal of education, Vol 50, No.1

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Research in the classroom - Reflections from ResearchED

At ResesarchED this weekend, teachers, academics and 'others' gathered to share, debate and present ideas around research in education, schools and classrooms. 

One of the sessions I attended was presented by James Murphy (@horatiospeaks) the title of which was 'Research design you can use in the classroom'. The title resonated with me, as I have been thinking a lot recently about enquiry and research, particularly with the #SCELenquire events coming up soon, here, for which I am doing the keynote for the Edinburgh event, but also leading a learning conversation at each of the other events.

At GTCS, we are strongly focused on teacher professionalism and teacher identity, and how to support teachers to engage with research to develop an ‘enquiry as stance’ disposition through undertaking practitioner enquiry and other activities. One of the issues with this aspiration, is how to make enquiry and research meaningful but manageable for teachers, so they can engage with research to inform their practice but also generate their own research. So off I went to James’s session to try to find out more about how to support teachers research in their classrooms.

James's session challenged the myths about the need for large scale research in classrooms and offered a discussion on single subject 'quasi-experimental' research design to support teachers to be consumers and creators of research. 

Large scale research like random control trials (RCT), I would suggest are not the way forward, as for teachers they have more limitations than benefits. Firstly, there would be an issue with scale. The sample size would not be practical i.e. the number of participants needed would be in the thousands, this is unmanageable both in terms of access to that number of participants but also the time involved in doing such research. Secondly, cost, both monetary and time, for RCT is prohibitive for teachers. Finally, the depth of analysis i.e. separating out the variables is very difficult, RCT usually reports on a whole programme, not one variable, making this type of research very difficult given the multiplicity of factors that influence people and learning.

Quasi-experimental research, to use James’s description can be used by teachers in classrooms to enquire into and inform practice. There can be limitations with this type of research as these enquiries can have limited transfer. There is also an issue with the sample size, as it can range from a few individuals to a whole class, so can it be valid research? I would argue that it is valid, if it is contextualised and informs the teachers’ practice to support improved outcomes for young people and children with whom they support. To increase validity and the possibility of transfer, it would be valuable to be able to replicate the intervention/strategy. It is the responsibility of the teacher when they share their enquiry to describe their intervention/strategy clearly enough, for replication for themselves and other teachers. The data collected may also be questioned as often enquiry in classrooms relies on qualitative data. Qualitative data can be interpreted differently depending on the researchers’ bias, so it may be of interest to other teachers but it needs to be understood that the impact is highly contextualised with these pupils, within that classroom, at that time. There is also a further caution in that the relational data generated may show correlation between the intervention and impact, but without further study it does not give causation. Correlation taken as causation, can be dangerous, so in sharing and reporting findings teachers must acknowledge the limitations of their enquiry. Another consideration when carrying out an enquiry is the ethical dimension. The removal of an intervention/strategy to have replication has ethical implications, if we have removed an intervention/strategy where we have some evidence that works, it would be unethical to remove this just to show correlation or causation, depending on the research question. Using control groups also has ethical implications, I suggest it would be unethical to prevent one group of pupils receiving an intervention/strategy, that has some evidence that works to show impact and causation. An alternative to this would be to use students as their own control, this allows isolation of the variable and the teachers to do a comparable study of pupils, before and after the intervention/strategy as evidence of impact.

To finish the session James offered a simple enquiry framework, see below.

I would add to this the literature review, which should underpin any enquiry. Once the enquiry question has been defined, the teacher should find out what is already known about this. If you are a GTCS registrant, you can access academic journals and ebooks through the GTCS website, here, to help you.

I was asked to say why I was attending ResearchED, I wrote, I want to learn about new ideas and methods to support teachers to become enquiring practitioners and research informed’, I think this session perhaps did not give me anything new, but made me ask more questions about how the GTCS can support teacher professionalism and teacher identity through helping teachers to engaging with research and enquiry.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Getting it right for girls

Last week the EIS launched a report entitled ‘Getting it right for Girls’. This report shares findings about misogynistic attitudes in education and offers advice on how we, as an education system, can address this.

Misogyny, defined as -dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women - is influenced by factors such as the home environment, advertisement and the media. We have only to look at the recent media coverage of the Olympics to see misogyny in action, here. It is also true that there is a disproportionately low level of participation of women in public life and female politicians (and other prominent female figures) are routinely subjected to sexist comments in the press and via other media sources. I really liked to recent article in the Metro, here, which discussed Teresa May’s husband in the terms that are usually reserved for the female partner of a prominent male public figure. This piece perfectly highlights misogynistic reporting by the media.

The Legal Context

Misogyny can vary from overt sexual bullying to casual sexual comments or failing to conform to gender ‘norms’, which is often trivialised as humorous. The 2010 Equality Act identifies gender as a protected characteristic and as such schools and colleges are bound by the terms of the Public Sector Equality Duty, part of the 2010 Equality Act to;

·         eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation

·         promote equality of opportunity

·         remove or minimise disadvantages to meet the needs of the people from protected groups

·         encourage participation of protected groups

Misogyny should be challenged throughout the education system to modify behaviour and attitudes.

Misogynistic attitudes and behaviour

There are many types of misogynistic behaviours and attitudes all of which should be challenged. Some are developed in the home environment and through entrenched views, some are societal prejudices which are allowed to perpetuate and some are cultural. The following list in not exhaustive but gives some ideas of the daily prejudices against women;

·        Common use of misogynistic language such as ‘girly’ or overt sexualised and derogatory language

·        Dismissive or contemptuous attitudes towards females

·        Objectification of women and the use of social media to target sexual innuendo at females – which can be describes as bullying

·        Mockery and derision when women or girls adopt non stereotypical gender roles – this can leave the victim feeling rejected and the psychological effect can be long lasting

·        A double standard which criticises young girls who are sexually active

·        Physical violence is an extreme but commonplace expression of misogynistic attitudes, such as;

o   Physical, sexual or psychological violence

o   Sexual harassment or intimidation

o   Commercial sexual exploitation

o   Dowry related violence

o   Female genital mutilation

o   Forced or child marriages

o   Honour crimes

Gender pay gap

The effect of misogynistic attitudes and behaviours can be a significant hindrance to personal and social development. Statistically men are commonly the perpetrators and women and children more commonly the victims. Allowing the perpetration of dismissive, contemptuous attitudes towards women to go unchallenged can contribute to the persistence of the associated gender pay gap. The report shares a table of the percentage of male and female teachers in different roles (p10), below.

It is very interesting that Secondary, all grades is 63:37 (female to male) but secondary head teachers is the opposite proportion of 39:61 (female to male).


Changing attitudes and fostering community level intolerance and sanctions towards such misogynistic behaviour are required and all education establishments have a role to play in this.

Education establishments could;
·        Create a whole school policy with very precise language as to what is and is not acceptable

·        Have a school mission statement which safe guards against gender stereotyping

·        Have zero tolerance to misogynistic language and attitudes

·        Work with partners and support parents to tackle misogynistic language and attitudes

·        Considering how misogyny as gender stereotyping may impact on student subject choice and take steps to address this

·        Facilitate Equality and Diversity training for teachers which is linked to the values heralded in the Professional Standards and which underpins professionalism of teachers.

Misogyny has no place in the Scottish Education system or in society and is an issue that needs to be addressed. Education is well placed to move this agenda forward.  I recommend this report to you and you can access the whole report here.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Using enquiry and data to inform practice

This is my first blog of the new school session and I am still trying to get to grips with data literacy. This new terminology has recently been included in policy but there has been no definition offered. This is my current working definition:

Data literacy is the ability to derive meaningful information from data. Originally this was viewed as numerical and statistical data interpretation with an understanding the reliability of data to draw conclusion. This definition has been expanded to include the ability to ask and answer questions using data as part of evidence based thinking. This evidence based approach uses the most appropriate data, and interprets it to develop and evaluate data based inferences and explanations to solve real problems and communicate findings. The data collected could be both qualitative or quantitative in nature and can be derived from big data set through to classroom observations and professional noticing. 

I have also recently read a few books on data literacy and am still working through the implications for teacher learning in generating, analysing and making evidence based improvements and how this ties with the aspiration for an ‘enquiring profession’ first discussed in Teaching Scotland’s Future, here.

What is data?

Schools are rich with data and can take many forms. There are obvious forms of data such as attainment data but we need to look beyond this and uncover other sources of data that already exist. Discussing and using different forms of data dispels the myth that data can only be obtained through assessment. For example, other forms of data may include;

·         Student surveys

·         Teacher survey

·         Parent surveys

·         Learning observation notes

·         Student exit tickers

·         Student narratives

·         Focus groups

What do we need to be data literate?

Data provides the opportunity to inform our practice (evidence based practice) but data must be interpreted to inform our next steps before it has any power to inform. Teachers and schools need to create the time to develop conversations around rich data to support improvement. School leaders need to champion the use of rich data not just numerical/attainment data to build and support a culture where it is the norm to discuss evidence based practice. Leaders need to publically commit to using data so it becomes a priority and will pervade the culture and ethos of the school.

Create a data inventory – what data do we already have?

School leaders and teachers could create an inventory to collect together all of the possible sources of data that already exist in school. Schools are data rich, we now need to move this to become data enriched (accessing and using the data). A possible data inventory may look like to one below.

Data source
Dates of learning observations
Year group observed
Where is this information stored/collated
How do we use this data?

How can we use this data better? What else can it be used to inform/improve?

This can help to pull together an assessment calendar which will help both teachers and pupils to manage their workload, and can also identify where time and space can be created to talk about data.

Staff also need to develop skills in interacting with, using data and drawing inferences and conclusions. Sometimes data is presented in ways that prevents teachers from accessing the information, leaders therefore have a role to play in finding sensible ways to redisplay the data to help the underlying narrative and themes become apparent.

It may be helpful to have a list of specific questions in mind as you examine the data, for example;

·         Are there any trends? For groups of pupils? Over time?

·         Are you interested in a subset of pupils only? Do you want to compare across cohorts? Subjects?

·         Do you want to analyses individual progress? Group progress? Cohort progress?

·         Do you want to focus on high attainers? Low attainers? Off target pupils?

·         Do you want to focus in across department comparisons/ in school comparisons? Using insights data?

Once the data is in an appropriate format it helps to stimulate conversations and interrogation of the data, which leads to further questions such as;

·         What questions does this raise?

·         How are we going to address these?


Embedding data in collaborative practice is essential. A collaborative enquiry cycle can support teacher to enquiry into their practice and help develop of an enquiring mindset. Teachers can to generate data and make inferences through professional noticing. To make this more powerful it can be done by asking questions before inferences are drawn, e.g. what did you see? (with no interpretation). This can lead to better conversations about pupils’ learning as the focus is on fact and not interpretation of fact. If it is framed as a learner-centred problem, i.e. this is what I saw, the problem can be about the learning and not the learners and can give a question to start an enquiry. This questioning can start with ‘as teachers, we….’, this keeps the focus on the learning and brings buy-in from teachers. Undertaking an enquiry with a determined focus is both an end and a means. It is easy to get consensus around a focus that does not require teachers to make a change to their practice, so the more teachers are involved in selecting the focus, the more committed they will be in implementing the change. The collective success of the enquiry and how any changes are implemented based on the evidence of the enquiry, will depend on the synergy and trust of the teachers and leaders involved.

Undertaking an enquiry, increases clarity and transparency as leaders and teachers can collaboratively think and work through the enquiry cycle. The enquiry should start with an agreed focus. How you are changing? is a better question than what are you changing? At the start of the enquiry, it is also important to think about and agree how this will be addressed in the classroom, what will it look like? what will it sound like? what will it feel like? Putting this into writing with deliverables, timescales and the evidence to be collected sharpens the focus of the enquiry. Next you have to get creative about what resources you are going to use and how these are to be shared. This will require everybody to bring something to the table whether that is literature or a strategy or interesting practice. The next stage of the enquiry planning is to decide how the data will be evaluated with appropriate timescale and milestones, it is important to include a student voice at this stage so that this done with students and not to students.

Now that the planning phase is completed with some underpinning from literature, it is time to collect data.

Evaluating the data

Once data has been collected it can then be analysed to draw conclusions and inform next steps. This is powerful if leaders and teachers can work together to interrogate both the data and their own findings. It can be helpful to employ a coaching approach and use questions that support deep reflection such as:

·         What led you to conclude…?

·         I am hearing you say…is that correct?

·         I’m wondering what you mean by…?

So when feeding back to the collaborative group, these questions are asked to clarify and distil the findings to produce informed decisions about the data. The conclusions should be supported by the evidence, again a coaching approach can help support this process, for example, possible sentence starters for the reporter could be;

·         I see…

·         I noticed that…

·         I saw evidence of…

Create a living document that can capture these reflections and can be added to over time, generating a virtuous cycle of continuous improvement. This improvement cycle using an evidence based approach can inform school improvement planning.

Through the enquiry cycle, teachers should also interrogate the changes to their thinking and practice and note this in the professional learning log, so that their learning is not assumed or lost in the change cycle, but is also reflected upon and can be used to inform their next steps in their teachers’ journey.

Generating, collecting and analysing data is important to inform school improvement, teacher learning and the life chances of pupils, but the real power of data is not that it provides answers but that it inspires teachers to ask questions.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Data literacy for teachers

In my new role as Senior Education Officer (National Improvement Framework), I am trying to gain a fuller understanding of some areas. Data literacy is a term that has been used but since I was unsure exactly what this meant, I thought I would explore this further and purchased a book called Data Literacy for Educators: Making it count in teacher preparation and practice. This is a summary of thoughts on data literacy and what it means for teachers.

The rationale
Teachers need to be able to use data to understand and measure children’s learning and transform this information into next steps in learning for each child.
This can be achieved through a combination of different knowledges;
·         Knowledge of standards of progression – what stage is this child at and what is their next step in learning
·         Curricular knowledge – how can the curriculum be developed to support each child’s learning
·         Pedagogical knowledge – what theory and practice would be best employed to support children’s learning
·         Knowledge of how children learn – metacognition.

In classrooms, teachers observe children’s learning in a holistic way, not just their progression in learning but also how they react, behave, perform, whether they are engaged, attentive or alert, and use all of this information to make professional judgements on the next steps in learning for each child.  As an education system we have to move away from anecdotal evidence of children’s learning and behaviour to a more systematic way of collecting and using data to support professional learning of teachers and learning progress of the young people. This means using data to reinforce and confirm observations and gut reaction. This does not mean replacing the tacit knowledge gained over years of experience for some teachers but using tools to augment this tacit knowledge with data that can be collated, discussed and used to inform next steps.
Teachers need to develop skills, knowledge and disposition to be able to use data effectively and responsibly. This would be supported by a strong data culture within schools where data is explicitly utilised to identify problems in practice, which can be analysed and an action plan created as part of a cycle of collaborative enquiry.

What data?
Data comprises of both quantitative and qualitative facts, figures, materials or results. These are empirical pieces of evidence which can be transformed into information by the context which gives them meaning. This data (information) provides the teachers with evidence which can support professional judgement and actions. The data collected must be meaningful and more importantly actionable, i.e. it needs to provide information for action to be taken.
Teachers have to go beyond the easy sources of data such as assessment data, and mine the rich learning experiences and classroom practice to find the most appropriate evidence which is meaningful and manageable. There are many forms of data that can be used as evidence, some qualitative and some quantitative, such as;
·         Assessments
o    summative, formative, interim, benchmark, diagnostic
·         Classroom activities:
o    exercise, quizzes, reports, problem solving, lab exercises, projects, demonstrations
·         Portfolios
·         Observations:
o    attentiveness, engagement, fatigue, hyperactivity, hunger, misbehaviour
·         Questions and answers
·         Attendance, truancy and tardiness
·         Behaviour: demerits, exclusion, socially supportive actions
·         Health and nutrition
·         Affect:
o    motivation, attitude, attention, grit, self-esteem
·         Special status:
o    special educational needs, accommodations, languages, giftedness
·         Transportation
·         Demographics
·         Home circumstances:
o    parental status, languages barrier, education, numbers of siblings, homelessness, immigration status, poverty level, parental support, home educational resources, technology
It is the triangulation of some/all of these sources of data that helps give teachers the fullest picture of their students learning and supports teachers to make professional judgements in the best interests for each child.

What does this mean for teachers?
Teachers need to develop knowledge, skills and dispositions through professional learning opportunities in how to collate and use data effectively and ethically. Teachers can undertake professional learning in data literacy, to support their professional judgements and increase teacher agency, as they become confident in utilising data to make informed decisions about the learning of young people.
Teaching with a closed classroom door, is not conducive to a collaborative professional learning community. Teachers teaching in isolation have limited sources of data to make informed professional judgements, a collaborative professional learning community offers the possibility to make well-articulated, objective professional judgements on student performance and to use data to inform learning and teaching.
Teachers need to develop data literacy skills and think critically about data. Teachers should combine their data skills with content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge. The pedagogical component helps inform changes to learning and teaching that result from the data as part of a continuous enquiry cycle into their practice.
To be data literate, teachers need to;
·         Understand what data is appropriate
·         Understand data quality
·         Understand data accuracy, appropriateness, and completeness
·         Transform data into decision
·         Understanding context for the decision
·         Create next steps in learning
·         Monitor student performance
·         Diagnose what students need
·         Make adjustments in learning and teacher
·         Understand the context for a decision

Teachers need to use multiple sources of data and triangulate these sources to inform their practice. Engaging with research can form the basis for understanding what data literacy is and what skills and knowledge need to be developed.

The Education System
All educators need to know how to talk about data, and they need to know how to communicate with data. Each establishment needs to become what Senge calls a ‘learning organisation’, where data is used for organisational improvement. In a ‘learning organisation’ data is collected and analysed in ways that can be used in a feedback cycle to inform decisions for continuous improvement.
“Data gives us roadmap to reform, it tell us where we are, we need to go, and who is most at risk” (Duncan, 2009a)

Mandinach, E.B. & Gummer, E.S. (2016) Data Literacy for Educators: Making it count in teacher preparation and practice; new York, NY: Teachers College Press

Sunday, 19 June 2016

How can/do regulatory bodies support teacher professionalism?

Attending the IFTRA (International Forum of Teacher Regulatory Authorities) conference this week in Dublin was an interesting experience for me. The international flavour of the conference and the sharing of expertise and practice was exciting, as we discussed how teachers are regulated in various places including, Ontario, New Zealand, Australia, Netherlands, South Africa, Eire and of course here in the UK, in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

What was particularly interesting for me was the high esteem GTCS is held across the world. Now working with GTCS and being a teacher, I had not appreciated that Scotland are world leaders in supporting the teaching profession, both as a regulatory body and in professional learning. Other countries represented at the conference are looking to Scotland as an example of excellent practice.

The conference held in Dublin, was themed around Leadership in partnership – the professional role of teachers. Professionalism is still a notion I am wrestling with and I believe the GTCS along with the profession, have to define what this means for teachers across Scotland through the Professional Standards, however, alongside professionalism sits fitness-to-teach. Are we as teachers, professional (as in we display the desired behaviours and dispositions) or are we each a professional (as in we display the desired behaviours and dispositions but also are regulated through professional standards), I would argue the second.

Teachers across the world are held in high esteem by the public, however, policy makers are increasing the things that schools need to deliver, not just curriculum but wider achievement and societal issues to which education can contribute but not cannot fix alone. In this world of the immediateness of social media and a more connected world of complex decision making, students need to develop the skills to survive and thrive in the global digital economy, and schools have been placed at the centre of this, to support all of our young people across the world to develop these skills.

Teacher professionalism and teacher regulatory bodies must look back to learn from good practice and equally things that didn’t have an impact. GTCS must also always be looking forward to better support teachers to become more professional, to know, articulate and display their core values and commitment to social justice, for teacher to take ownership of their own learning and be life-long learner and improve the life chances of young people.
We are at a tipping point or watershed moment (OECD, 2105) with era change through a raft of interconnected issues such as;
·         globalisation
·         technology
·         knowledge society
·         employment patterns
·         demographics
·         patterns of family life
·         migration and inter-culturalism
·         inclusive schooling
·         gap between rich and poor internationally
·         destructive subcultures and youth
·         transparency and accountability

At this time we are also faced with a changing role of teacher professionalism, there are attitudinal and cultural changes to be made around how teachers view themselves, their own learning and work. The role of a regulatory body is not always seen but is in place to promote public and professional confidence and interests in education. Within this, there is a strategic role for GTCS, as Professor John Coolahan puts it, GTCS has to be the “fulcrum of trust by society and profession”. There is also a changing role for communication, partnership working and leadership across the education system with an emphasis on supporting teachers but the regulation element of the GTCS work must always be high on the agenda.

This changing role can be evidenced across education systems as teachers take on the notion of being life-long learners and the GTCS supports teachers in this through PU. As a profession there are standards which have to be met and adhered to in terms of conduct and behaviour. There are also universal standards of practice which support teachers learning journeys and enrich the professional discourse of what we believe is a professional educator in Scotland.

Part of this changing role is supported through ITE provision as we set expectations of new teachers to develop the skills, abilities and disposition which will lead to career long professional learning and the best outcomes for young people. GTCS’s role in this is to accredit ITE programmes ensuring they have the correct duration, rigour, delivery, use research and appropriate school practice to support new teachers to develop into enquiring practitioners. This is enhanced through partnership working with the local authorities and schools. In Australia, all ITE programmes also have to demonstrate that their students have impact on student outcomes, this is an interesting proposition but what would this look like in student placements and into the probation year and how can it be measured?

There are indirect influences that should be taken into consideration in supporting the changing role of teachers, as teachers are expected to move from individualism to working collaboration in learning communities to support development planning. The role of self-evaluations and professional learning of teachers within this also influences the changing nature of teaching. The engagement of parents in learning is at the forefront of the policy drivers as a means of making changes to how teachers and young people learn together to improve outcomes for all.

Being both creators and consumers of research will also support teachers to improve their professional status as they begin to make research enriched decisions and improve their understanding of learning to support young people achievements and attainment. There are still some questions as to the self-funding or budget available from the government to enhance teachers through Masters level accreditation and learning. Being both creators and consumers of research is evident in GTCS’s professional standard in enquiry into practice and supports the changing role of teachers and the aspiration of enquiring profession.

Harry Cayton, Chief Executive of the Professional Standards Authority, gave an excellent keynote on regulation, discussing the impact and implication of the Right-touch Regulation paper, here. Regulation has to be centred on people and be a framework that connects the teacher as a human being to the work they engage in on a daily basis. The research finds that people are better regulated by those they work with every day, based on values rather than a set of distance regulation and compliance, therefore the values must be at the heart of the regulation. GTCS have made values the core of the professional standards with the Professional Values and Personal Commitment as the first section and underpins each standard. Teachers must be responsible for their actions which are based on the shared values and thus become accountable and develop resilience in their working life. It would be interesting research for GTCS to find out how teacher resilience (buoyance) is developed and then GTCS would be able to further support teachers in this area.

Standards for teachers have to written for and with teachers so they are transparent and can be adopted and embedded into the psyche of teachers. Doing this creates a framework in which professionalism can flourish and organisations can be excellent (excellence can be defined as the continuous performance of good practice combined with continuous improvement).

The Right-tough regulation document provides a framework for a solution orientated approach to regulation which keeps it clear and simple, and focuses on only using the regulation to achieve the desired effect – no more, no less. For teacher professionalism this would involve creating more space and time for learning and teaching and the human elements of the job, with a shared vision for the level of risk and a regulatory system where professionalism can flourish.

So, as a regulatory body, GTCS ensures that all teachers on the register are provided with a framework of minimum standards through the Standards for Registration. Within these Standards and the CoPAC document, which outline the behaviour and conduct expected of a teacher in Scotland, GTCS ensures that all teachers are of a benchmark standard across Scotland, ensuring quality of teaching and learning for all young people. This carries with it the function to discipline teachers who fall below this minimum standards for expected conduct and behaviour. The second and growing element of the work of GTCS is supporting teacher professionalism through professional update. This involves supporting teachers to engage in using the standards to signpost their learning journey, undertaking professional learning and enquiry into their own practice to improve their skills, knowledge and abilities, sharing their finding through professional dialogue with colleague both within their establishment and beyond.