The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Consultation on refreshed Professional Standards and Professional Code for Teachers

30 September 2019


GTC Scotland is seeking views from the general public on a refreshed set of Professional Standards for teachers as well as a new Professional Code for teachers.

The consultation closed on 20 December 2019 and was open to anyone with an interest in education. Please go to to find out more.

GTC Scotland Chief Executive and Registrar, Kenneth Muir, said: “The Professional Standards and Professional Code are integral to the working lives of teachers. These documents guide teachers through their careers, ensuring high standards and encouraging professional learning in order to continually update and develop skills. 

“We have refreshed the Professional Standards and revised the Code to reflect the changing educational landscape and the needs of teachers and, importantly, children and young people.

“We are now seeking the views of teachers and the wider public to ensure that the Standards and Code are fit for purpose.”

The Professional Standards and Professional Code support teachers in the following:

  • as a benchmark of conduct and professional competency,
  • to provide a framework for initial teacher education,
  • to support career-long professional growth,
  • to help develop professionalism,
  • to create a shared language for teachers and to ensure and,
  • enhance public trust and confidence in the teaching profession.

What is being proposed?

The recommended changes to the Professional Standards include updating the introduction so that it is set within a contemporary context while keeping the sections on knowledge and understanding; skills and abilities and professional actions largely unchanged. 

This was considered the best approach to keep the integrity of the Standards, as admired by the intergovernmental Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), but update the context within which they sat. In its report, “IMPROVING SCHOOLS IN SCOTLAND: AN OECD PERSPECTIVE” (2015), the OECD provided specific commentary on the professional standards (page 126 of the report):

“The standards are bold and supportive [sic]... However, standards frameworks are much harder to implement effectively than to set in the first place. There is a question of how deeply the GTCS standards have moved from the theory to the practice and become embedded in the professional culture of the Scottish educational system.”

The proposed Professional Code reflects a completely fresh and different approach from the existing Code of Professionalism and Conduct document, known as COPAC.

The focus in producing a new Professional Code has been to create a short, principles-based document which is accessible and positively framed. The new Professional Code will fit clearly within the suite of Professional Standards and has the Professional Values at its core.