General Teaching Council for Scotland

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The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) (Scottish Gaelic: Comhairle Choitcheann Teagaisg na h-Alba) is a fee based registered charity [1] and the world's first independent self-regulating body for teaching.[2] The current Chief Executive is Ken Muir and the current Convener of its Council is Derek A Thompson.


GTCS was the first professional registration body for teachers in the United Kingdom, and one of the first teaching councils in the world.

It was set up in 1965 under the Teaching Council (Scotland) Act 1965 [3] following concerns that entry requirements had lowered after the Second World War and unqualified teachers were working in Scottish schools. Its powers, remits and duties have since been amended by other legislation, including the Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998 [4] and the Standards in Scotland's Schools etc. Act 2000.[5] It is a legal requirement for all teachers working in Scottish local authority schools to be registered with GTCS (The Requirements for Teachers (Scotland) Regulations 2005 [6]).

On 2 April 2012 GTCS was granted independence status by the Scottish Government. The Teaching Council (Scotland) Act 1965 was repealed and replaced by the Public Services Reform (GTC Scotland) Order 2011. The Public Services Reform (General Teaching Council for Scotland) Order 2011 [7] was made by Scottish Ministers in accordance with the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 [8] and passed into law on 17 March 2011.


Under The Public Services Reform (General Teaching Council for Scotland) Order 2011, GTCS’s general functions are to:

  • keep a register of teachers (this is a list of all teachers who are registered and therefore eligible to teach in Scottish local authority schools)
  • establish and review the standards of education and training appropriate to school teachers
  • establish and review the standards of conduct and professional competence expected of a registered teacher
  • investigate the fitness to teach of individuals who are, or are seeking to be, registered
  • keep itself informed of the education and training of individuals undertaking courses for the education and training of teachers
  • consider and make recommendations to Scottish Ministers about matters relating to teachers’ education, training, career development and fitness to teach as well as the supply of teachers
  • keep such registers of other individuals working in educational settings as it thinks fit
  • GTCS has a duty to carry out these functions in the interests of the public and in a way that appears to GTCS to represent best regulatory practice.

standards of education and training[edit]

A suite of Professional Standards provide a framework for teachers at all stages in their careers.[9] A revised set of standards came into use in August 2013.[10]

Governing Council and committee structure[edit]

Role of the Council[edit]

The Council has a significant role to play in shaping the teaching profession of Scotland and maintaining and improving professional standards. It does this by developing and monitoring the strategic direction and policy of GTCS by determining entry standards to teaching, accrediting courses of teacher education and by setting clear expectations of the profession in its range of published Codes and Professional Standards.

Council membership[edit]

GTCS is governed by a Council made up of 19 elected teachers, 11 nominated educational stakeholder representatives and 7 appointed lay members, who make decisions on matters of strategy and policy. Council membership is determined following a rolling programme: election, nomination and appointments processes take place every two years and half of the members step down at the end of each two-year period.
The standard council member term of office is four years and a member is not eligible to serve more than two such terms in any 20-year period.

Committee Structure[edit]

Council members may serve on the following committees and sub-committees:

  • Executive Committee: advises, informs and puts forward recommendations or proposals to Council on all aspects shaping the strategic and policy direction of the Council.
  • Regulatory Governance Sub-Committee: advises, informs and puts forward recommendations or proposals to the Executive Committee on all rules, guidance and policies relating to the Council's panels.
  • Education Committee: advises, informs and puts forward recommendations or proposals to council on all educational matters within the Council's remit.
  • Finance and General Purposes Committee: advises, informs and puts forward recommendations or proposals to council on GTCS's annual report and accounts, financial matters (including the setting of registration fees) and ensure that GTCS acts legally and within its statutory authority.

Adjudication panels[edit]

The Council has a series of panels that adjudicate cases about the fitness to teach of individual teachers.

Panels are composed of non-Council members, both teachers and lay members, who have been appointed by the Appointments Committee.

The Council also has an arms-length Appeals Board which is made up of independent, non-Council members. The Appeals Board addresses cases in which an appeal against certain decisions have been made.

Appointments Committee[edit]

The Council has an appointments committee which is made up of independent, non-Council members. The appointments committee is responsible for appointing the seven lay members of Council and the membership of adjudicating panel members.

Supporting education in Scotland[edit]

GTCS performs a number of functions to support and inform the teaching profession and the wider public about Scottish education. It produces a magazine issued five times a year ( Teaching Scotland). This publication carries a range of news articles and features about education activities across the country. It is issued to nearly 80,000 teachers on the GTCS register.

In addition to this, GTCS holds a number of events throughout the year to promote and recognise the teaching profession. This includes, among many other activities, its Annual Lecture. The Lecture has previously been given by Annie Lennox, Lord David Puttnam, Christopher Brookmyre, Baroness Warnock and Sir Harry Burns amongst others.[11]

GTCS operates a number of websites providing information about education in Scotland including Teaching Scotland Online and in2teaching, a website for probationers.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]