As you may know I serve on the General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS). This is the professional body who oversee the professional standards of the teaching profession in Scotland. GTCS play an active role in initial teacher education, in the registration of teachers, in their on-going professional learning and in setting the framework to monitor the fitness to teach.
In my particular role I serve on the full council and the Education Committee. I have also been involved in panels which have assessed candidates for Head Teacher qualification and which have determined whether new routes into teacher training meet accreditation standards. A great deal of this work is about ensuring schools across Scotland have sufficient numbers of high quality teachers.
As Head Teacher of Harlaw Academy a significant part of my job is to try and ensure we manage to recruit really good teachers and to support them to do their best. I am very pleased with the quality of teachers we have and their incredible commitment to the children and families associated with Harlaw Academy. I really appreciate all the very positive comments about the teachers I have received from parents at the recent parent’s nights. I also appreciate seeing the large numbers of pupils taking part in the many additional opportunities offered by staff (see my blog of last week for some examples).
I want to acknowledge the fact that teachers are working really hard to keep up with continual change in the education system – this year for example there have been massive changes in our National 5 courses and there are new ‘benchmarks’ which mean they are having to redesign their S1-S3 courses. Alongside these massive changes our staff have began to use Google classroom and this should ensure pupils and parents can have unprecedented access to learning away from school. Teachers are also at the ‘front line’ of ‘safeguarding’ our young people – whether that be serious child protection issues to a host of other things which cause young people upset/loss of confidence.
Alongside this we have a range of other really professional non teaching staff who do a brilliant job looking after our pupils (and teachers) and playing a key role in the day to day work of the school ( admin, canteen, janitors, technicians, librarian, PSAs, instrumental instructors, careers advisor, youth workers, counsellor and others). I am every bit as keen to ensure that their work is acknowledged and appreciated as much as that of teachers. Each makes a contribution which makes the difference for a young person/family.
Whilst the vast majority of pupils and parents are brilliant and acknowledge the support they receive from staff there are times when this is not the case. It is not uncommon for me to be excluding pupils for being abusive to staff (teaching and non teaching staff) and from time to time I am also having to contact parents who have been abusive to teaching and non teaching staff.
Our young people deserve the best education available and in order to do this I need to be able to attract and retain the best staff available. Nobody will be attracted to a place where pupils or parents are abusive to staff and any staff we do have will want to leave if the workplace is not supportive. So my message is to value and support our staff because this will mean that they will stay with us and we will keep attracting new staff if we need to.
If you think we get it wrong please let us know in a polite way – because we really do want to get it right for every child.