The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Enhancing professionalism in education since 1965

Excellence in Professional Learning Award for Schools and Learning Communities

The Excellence in Professional Learning Award for Schools and Learning Communities recognises the central role that leadership at all levels plays in creating and sustaining professional learning environments where teacher professionalism can flourish and bring about sustained impact on learning and learners. The award is held for a three year period.

Background to the Excellence in Professional Learning Award

The development of this award was guided by  a strategic development group. The role of this group has been to discuss and set out the process and development plan of action to meet the aspirations of the award.

The work of the group has been guided by the GTCS Position Paper: Teacher Professionalism and Professional Learning in Scotland and has helped shape the GTCS Professional Learning Model which supports this award.


The Principles governing the design and delivery of the award are as follows:

  • The Professional Learning Award model of co-creation needs to be the approach taken each year to help shape and include the voice of participants, ensuring they are clear and there is transparency in all processes.
  • Empowering for school/learning community to always co-construct
  • The way this operates must be about professional learning and building collaborative professionalism
  • Real sign-up to this as a way of working to support teachers and leaders - leadership is critical here in creating the ethos and trust
  • Strong support for the underpinning vision for teacher professionalism, but honest discussion on the barriers, challenges and need to bring a solution focussed approach to overcome these with, and for, the profession
  • Must be a supportive process for the profession, bringing depth and clarity
  • Aspirational work to recognise how we support organisations at different stages of readiness - the support tools should enable everyone to access this
  • The award can help build collaborative professionalism across schools and learning communities in Scotland
  • Challenges in current political climate of top down, quick fix approach - need to challenge and address through teacher professionalism.

Key Principles to support the submission for the Professional Learning Awards

The following Key Principles to support the submission for the Professional Learning Award were established:

  • It should take a 'come and see us' approach and the submission should be a valuable, reflective insight into the professional learning environment.
  • It should be a useful and authentic process that is regarded as a valuable addition to the learning process for the School/Learning Community
  • It should maximise the documentation and evidence that is embedded in the school/Learning Community
  • It should not create excessive additional workload or burden and bureaucracy should be minimised
  • It should be an opportunity to showcase and share excellence in professional learning

Making a Nomination for the award

From early October GTCS extends an Invitation for Nominations from Local Authorities to Directors of Education, Professional Update Officers and to other lead educational organisations.

Early December is the closing date for final school and learning community formal nominations giving the contact details of the lead support officers.

In January the Excellence Support team is allocated to each school and learning community - this comprises:

  • GTCS link Senior Education Officer (SEO)
  • Local Authority Support Officer/ Organisation Lead Officer
  • GTCS trained Professional Learning Advocate from outwith the LA or sector

A lead link member of this support team ensures the school and learning community is given a full submission pack, and set up and initial meeting to set out a working timeline and identify how they wish to approach their submission. The submission information outlines the different approaches that may be taken. The school/learning community will identify the best approach for their submission and the timeline that works best for them.