GTC Scotland

The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Comhairle Choitcheann Teagaisg na h-Alba

What do I need to know and do?

Engagement in the Professional Update process is a requirement for registration with GTC Scotland and will impact on all those who are currently registered.

Key Elements of the Professional Update Process

Importantly Professional Update is an ongoing process, which includes the following elements. Click an element to view further information.

The Professional Update sign-off year is primarily determined by the year od registration. However, this can differ depending on: when a registrant gained Full Registration; if a registrant has had a break in service; if a registrant has been lapsed from the register for a period of time.

As part of Professional Update it is essential you provide an annual update of your details held on the register by GTC Scotland including checking your personal and employment details are up to date. You can be removed from the register if you do not do this.

We recognise that as well as working in schools, registrants are also employed in a variety of settings such as central posts in local authorities, other national organisations, or indeed out-with the education system. We have made changes to our system which now allows you to record your employment details as part of the annual update.

The easiest way to provide this update is by creating a MyGTCS account. MyGTCS is a personalised and secure web portal which is maintained by GTCS and is only available to GTCS registrants who are either provisionally or fully registered.

If you have not done so already, you will need to create your MyGTCS account. Once you have created your account you will be able to access and modify your personal details which are held on the GTCS teaching register.

Creating your MyGTCS account online is easy and only takes a matter of minutes:

Professional learning is what teachers engage in to stimulate their thinking and professional knowledge and to ensure that their practice is critically informed and up-to-date. We believe that by undertaking a wide range of high-quality, sustained professional learning experiences, teachers are more likely to inspire pupils and provide high quality teaching and learning experiences, enabling learners to achieve their best. It is important that professional learning provides rich opportunities for teachers to develop and enhance their professional knowledge and practice, in order to progress the quality of learning and teaching and school improvement. Further information and guidance relating to professional learning can be found here:

Professional Update is not designed as a process for you to "prove" you meet every aspect of the Professional Standards. Instead, the Professional Standards should help in planning professional learning. The Professional Standards have been designed to offer support in identifying, planning and developing professional learning to ensure continuing development of professional knowledge, skills, understanding and practice. This involves asking deep and searching questions about, knowledge, skills understanding and practice.

The revised Professional Standards came into effect on 1 August 2013.This suite of Professional Standards provides an opportunity to think differently about the purpose of Professional Standards and use them to:

  • Ask deep and searching questions about your knowledge, understanding skills and professional practice
  • Inform and guide your reflections
  • Challenge your thinking and practice

Self evaluation should enable you to:

  • Identify strengths and areas for development
  • Focus on areas for developing expertise
  • Plan your Professional Learning
  • Consider career planning

The Standard for Provisional Registration and Standard for Full Registration provide a gate-keeping function for entry into teaching in Scotland and it should be noted that Full Registration continues to be the baseline Professional Standard for Competence. However, the other Professional Standards go beyond the traditional view of a Standard as a benchmark of competence, a concept which only applies to the Standard for Provisional Registration and Standard for Full Registration.

For registrants who have achieved the Standard for Full Registration, we have developed the Standard for Career-long Professional Learning. the Standard for Middle Leadership amd the Standards for Headship. These Professional Standards offer constructive support for registrants as they consider how they might develop their professional knowledge and skills through on-going self-evaluation and professional learning.

It is important to note that whilst the Professional Standards have been designed to meet the needs of registrants at all career stages working in Scotland's schools, every aspect of the Professional Standards may not be directly relevant to registrants working out-with the school system e.g. centrally based local authority staff, teachers working in colleges, universities or national organisations. Therefore, in addition to the Professional Standards and related support we plan to develop further guidance notes and support materials for registrants working outwith the school system.

Professional Update is based on effective, consistent Professional Review and Development and high-quality professional learning focused on outcomes for a registrant's own development as well as aiming to improve outcomes for children and young people. Ongoing professional dialogue plays a central role in this PRD process. We know that, where PRD operates successfully, it provides a valuable opportunity for registrants to reflect on their practice and to consider how they can improve their professional skills and knowledge. It involves reflecting on how your professional learning has impacted on thinking and practice and how it has impacted on learners and their learning. Evaluating the impact of professional learning is important to ensure it has been worthwhile and informs next steps.

At the heart of Professional Update is the PRD process. PRD as part of Professional Update should be an ongoing process. The formal PRD meeting provides a valuable opportunity for a focussed professional dialogue between reviewee and reviewer. This professional dialogue will be supported by consideration of your reflections, your professional learning and the evidence of impact which you have been recording on an on-going basis. There should be opportunities throughout the year to discuss your professional learning. There may be informal and/or formal meetings with your reviewer/line manager.

Adopting a coaching approach in the course of a PRD meeting allows the reviewee to genuinely consider and identify their professional development for themselves and consequently to develop a greater sense of confidence and empowerment. You can view more information on coaching and mentoring at:

GTC Scotland has a validating role in the PRD process, helping to ensure that employer PRD systems are robust and that registrants are enabled to engage fully in PU processes. We have developed validation guidelines, which we are using to validate PRD systems in local authorities, independent schools and universities and colleges as part of the Professional Update process.

Maintaining a reflective record of professional learning and evidence of impact form an essential part of the Professional Update process. Registrants across Scotland have maintained records of their professional learning for a number of years, and in many different ways. This has included paper-based systems of recording as well as on-line systems, often linked to internal local authority systems. As part of the planning process, such a record helps registrants reflect on practice and to link planned learning to their individual, school and local authority development needs.

Professional Update builds on this already established practice and helps to formalise this process, whilst recognising the different local contexts. However, there is now a requirement to engage in reflective thinking and practice, professional learning and consideration of the impact supported by evidence.

We have developed online profiles as part of MyGTCS. This provides registrants with a system for recording their reflective record of professional learning and evidence of impact.

However, the system of recording that is used to record professional learning for the purposes of Professional Update will vary depending on where a registrant is currently employed. Registrants employed in local authorities will receive further information from their employers about the systems in place in their authority.

Engagement in Professional Update is an ongoing process, with professional learning and PRD at the heart. Every five years, teachers will be required to confirm their engagement in this process with GTC Scotland. Like the professional learning record, this will be completed in a number of ways depending on the system in place - MyGTCS, another online system (e.g. Gateway, SOPRA). You will receive confirmation from your employer about the systems you should use for this purpose. Whatever the agreed system, the registrant is confirming the following:

  • I confirm that I have engaged in ongoing professional learning and reflected against the appropriate GTC Scotland Professional Standards. I have maintained a reflective record of professional learning and evidence of its impact on my thinking and professional actions. I have discussed this with my line manager as part of my Professional Review and Development process.

In addition your line manager will also be asked to confirm that you have engaged in the process and sign off a similar statement.

  • I confirm that this teacher has engaged in ongoing professional learning and reflected against the appropriate GTC Scotland Professional Standards. They have maintained a reflective record of professional learning and evidence of its impact on their thinking and professional actions. They have discussed this with me as their line manager as part of the Professional Review and Development process.

Registrants not currently in employment, or working out-with the education system, will be able to make a submission direct to GTC Scotland. If this applies to you, you can contact us for further information.

  • Direct Submissions - Teachers working outwith Scotland or within Scotland but outwith a validated system

We recognise that there will be a number of circumstances which may make completion of the Professional Update process within the designated timescale difficult, including career breaks, extended illness, maternity/ paternity/ adoption leave, and occasional supply work, for which extensions to the five year sign-off period may be required.

If a registrant is unable to complete the process in the designated year, then the registrant will have the opportunity to request a deferral. This deferral request will be made at local authority/ employer level and the decision notified to GTC Scotland. For those who have chosen to use the MyGTCS system this will be done via MyGTCS. Deferrals will normally be granted for a period of one year.

Teachers with Associate Status are not required to complete the five yearly sign off process for Professional Update. As they remain on the GTC Scotland Register, registrants with Associate status are required to update their details annually and to act appropriately in terms of the Professional Values and Personal Commitment section of the Professional Standards.

Associate Status could be appropriate for those who wish to remain on our Register and:

  • have retired from education and will not engage in any further teaching (please note that if you have retired from your substantive post, but may undertake supply teaching, if is a requirement to engage in Professional Update and retain Fully Registered (General) status)
  • are not currently working or not working in an educational "front line" context
  • are working outwith Scotland with no intention of returning within the foreseeable future
Read more about Associate and General Status

There are many misconceptions about PRD.