GTC Scotland

The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Comhairle Choitcheann Teagaisg na h-Alba

What is fitness to teach?

What is the fitness to teach process?

The fitness to teach process is in place to ensure public protection and maintain proper teaching standards.

The process is not about disciplining or punishing teachers, it is about ensuring that we have a teaching profession in Scotland that is and remains fit to teach so that public trust and confidence in teachers is maintained and the learning of our children and young people is protected.

We investigate and make decisions about a registered teacher's fitness to teach in line with our Fitness to Teach Rules (PDF) (which also set out the process followed).

Our Fitness to Teach Threshold Policy (PDF) explains what we investigate - we only investigate where an allegation is of a level of seriousness that the teacher presents a risk of harm.

Action is taken if a teacher's fitness to teach is found to be impaired because of shortfalls in their conduct or professional competence. Fitness to Teach Hearings are held and Consent Orders issued in this context.

With its focus on ensuring maintenance of our teaching standards, our fitness to teach process is distinct from any employer or criminal process that may also be followed.

What does being "fit to teach" mean?

Being fit to teach means meeting the standards of professional competence and conduct that GTCS expects. Our Standards for Registration and Code of Professionalism and Conduct set out these expectations but we could sum it up by saying that it means having the right knowledge and skills (and applying them) and doing the right thing as a professional teacher. Note: it does not mean being fit to teach in terms of health/medical fitness.

When does GTCS investigate the fitness to teach of a teacher?

We investigate when there is a realistic prospect that a teacher's fitness to teach would be found to be impaired based on an allegation or information that has been referred to us. We receive fitness to teach referrals from the police and other criminal justice agencies, employers and members of the public.

Our Threshold Policy explains more about what we investigate under our fitness to teach process. This policy is applied when GTCS receives a fitness to teach referral.

We approach assessing whether fitness to teach is impaired holistically in the here and now. We look at the shortfalls in conduct or professional competence identified alongside where the teacher is now. This includes considering what steps have been taken by the teacher to openly and honestly reflect on the issues, learn from them and make changes to ensure they will not happen again. While there are times when the shortfalls identified are so fundamental that there is no scope for remediation in this way, our approach recognises that we all make mistakes and is about providing assurance that those same mistakes will not be repeated so that the public (especially pupils) is not harmed and trust and confidence in the teaching profession is maintained.