GTC – Professional Update

So, with the GTC’s Professional Update under-way – and not enrolled in any formal course of study – I have opted to utilise this blog as a way of recording and sharing my ongoing academic inquiry. No, I’m not one of the lucky ones picked for the current round of ‘inspection’, but I would like to continue my CPD in a more structured manner, and to get ready for when I become one of the candidates.


The Chartered Teacher Scheme – An Open Letter (Part 2)

Could our mobility opportunities have been severely damaged by the statement regarding salary retention? 

My chances to compete for a Secondary Classroom Teacher post – should I ever wish to experience another school authority – has been significantly reduced, when one considers the Secondary Teacher salary ceiling and that this, in such austere times, additional 3 or 4,000 pounds to employ myself and others like me as a result of a professional development scheme that was publicly dissolved as one facet of the McCormack Review, and one which was misunderstood by senior management and local authorities, may well count against me even being considered for interview.

The assurance of salary protection (which may change) not only has a negative effect on mobility, but the inability of staff to ‘migrate’ across authorities may lead to stagnation, which ultimately leaves little inspiration for the pupils of such teachers who have low levels of confidence as to their professional development.  Furthermore, partially-accredited practitioners may find themelves faced with unwieldy ‘remits’ from less sensitive and more cynical local authorities who wish to get the ‘best bang for their buck’.

Decisions against pursuing a management position, or a Guidance Role made five or six years ago may now be reversed, as those betrayed by the decision to dismantle – nay, dissolve – the Chartered Teacher Scheme now seek the very limited P.T., Faculty Head or Guidance posts as the only opportunity for career advancement – rightly or wrongly! 

Next Post – ‘The Academic Canon’.

The Chartered Teacher Scheme – An Open Letter (Part 1)

For a few days now, I have been attempting to nail my colours to the mast in response to the dissolution of the Chartered Teacher Scheme and my recent communication from the SNCT stating that I would be unable to complete my ‘journey’, despite 4 years of personal, financial and professional commitment.

So, I’ve decided to blog each point I think deserves some reflection.  It is presented as an ‘open letter’, and I am sure there are many other similarly betrayed professionals with whom I share many observations.

To Whom,

As of last week, I had to inform my course provider, University of the West of Scotland (UWS), that I would not be completing my Masters Dissertation phase, but would be exiting the programme and leaving with a Postgraduate Diploma (I have three such pieces of parchment already).

My name is Hugh O’Donnell, and I am a Secondary English Teacher who undertook the Chartered Teacher Pathway Programme with the University of West of Scotland in September, 2009.  Additionally, I was simultaneously completing the Postgraduate Diploma in E-learning at EdinburghUniversity, which further evinces my commitment to continuous professional development.

On 4th September 2012, and as a result of the McCormack Review’s proposition to dissolve the Chartered Teacher Scheme, my application to be allowed to progress through the final stages (CT Pay Scale Points 5 and 6) was refused.  This is in despite of the fact that I was currently on Point 4 of the Chartered Teacher Pay Scale, and embarking on the final stage of the CT Pathway Programme at UWS between September 2012 and June 2013.  I would – and hoped to be – fully accredited by June 2013, having attained the associated MEd in Advanced Professional Studies.

But this proximity to being fully accredited, to be at the Masters-level Dissertation stage, according to the recent SNCT decision on circular 12/35, does not equate to fulfilling its ‘exceptional circumstances’, despite being one year from what would have amounted to five years of personal and financial commitment, and a course of study that would culminate in pursuing a piece of academic research – one which I envisage would have provided an opportunity for further longitudinal study into enhancing pupils’ literacy experiences across the curriculum.

When enrolling and undertaking what has proven to be both a huge financial undertaking, as well as one whereby many personal sacrifices have been made, it was one devoid of any cynicism – motivated to take advantage of the CT Pay Scale; my decision to undertake this professional development was:

  • To aspire to upholding the tenets of the Standard for Chartered Teacher and provide an enhanced educational experience for every pupil;
  • To qualify for an MEd, having undertake modular study and a final Masters-level dissertation that would contribute to the growing body of current academic research;
  • To become and embody the pedagogy of ‘teacher-researcher’, nurturing the established academic and collegiate links that will continue to inform daily praxis;
  • To forego Principal Teacher position or other promoted post routes (Guidance, for example), choosing to pursue a route that rewarded excellence in the classroom, and one which would help to imbue the importance of education in pupils and colleagues.

Since the ‘refusal’ notification, there has been no ‘appeals procedure’, and, additionally, I have less conviction as to the sincerity afforded the time-frame for the submission of ‘exceptional circumstances’, when one considers that the registration deadline for the University of West of Scotland’s MEd Dissertation Project was 10th September 2012 – less than one week after the SNCT’s notification. 

Has there been proper consideration and consultation of all stakeholders, especially with the Scheme’s academic providers? 

I have not been judged on who I have become, or what I do in and away from the classroom in the past 4 years .   Simply, I have been judged on how much I cost.

Next Post – ‘Mobility’.


Triangulation.  A term I have encountered as part of my Educational Research Methods module at UWS, and relating to cross-examination of data assisted by a ‘critical friend’; a cross-examination by two or more individuals of data collected/collated by one or both parties.

Formative Assessment.  Peer assessment often involves two pupils marking each others work, providing each other with a positive comment and identifying at least one area for requires improvement.  This is mediated by the classroom teacher as each  learner demonstrates her/his understanding through the exemplification of skills and knowledge in teaching others.  But – and to my knowledge – this invariably involves pairs.

Is there a case for moving from pairs to triads?

Typically, this third role is undertaken by the classroom teacher.  But pupil ability is often spread – low, mid and upper – exhibiting what is suggested as Multiple Zones of Proxmial Development (Brown and Campione, 1994).

Each piece of work can generate discussion between three individuals, whereupon one individual is able to receive written feedback, feedback that has resulted in a discussion between two of his/her peers (and may include their own submissions).  This produces a ‘discourse’ about both strengths and the weaknesses of a piece of work, and the individual whose work is the point of focus has the opportunity to engage.

So: a lower-ability (Pupil A) can work on improvements with someone whose ability does not far exceed their competency (Pupil B), but whereupon (B) can work with a more advanced pupil (Pupil C) in assessing their own personal learning, but to use a mediation of the evaluation of ‘Pupil A’.

An able pupil (Pupil C) has the opportunity to assist two different pupils’ work, but also assumes a ‘mediation’ role in the ‘activity system’ that is created when he/she engages with ‘Pupil B’.  The triad approach provides the ‘mediation’ activity traditionally assumed by the classroom teacher.

The second presentation of (last year was a ‘test run’) a CfE ‘U-boat’ interdisciplinary task is underway, and already I have exceptional classroom engagement, and near-100% response for a piece of imaginative writing deliberately set between a non-contact day in order to allow pupils to undertake their own research on the actual U-96 crew member they had ‘drawn’.  (All of this after a single period of mediation, collaboration, a source text – and lots of freedom!)

The ‘triad’ approach to formative assessment is something I am currently employing, creating triads beyond the pupils’ physical working groups (4).  It also links with my research activities into the use of Activity Theory as a theoretical lens that allows me to analyse and evaluate classroom collaboration.


  • Pupils may already feel over-awed and have low self-esteem about their work without the additional burden of another ‘critical friend’


  • Discourse on learning is encouraged and made explicit
  • Facilitates a continuum approach to ability ranges
  • Cross-examination of a ‘third-party’ text may be undertaken more objectively
  • Multiple Zones of Proximal Development present a continuum of ability ; mediation includes highly-able pupil, but without the ‘ability gulf’ that could exist
  • More self-regulated learning, less teacher-intervention
  • Mid-ability are able to place themselves better, translating feedback from more able into personal targets, whilst  securing this understanding through the assistance of the lower-ability pupil
Much food for thought.  But with the grounding the UWS Chartered Teacher Programme has given me, I feel well-equipped and confident in the theory and practice, and the necessary teaching and research tools to begin an investigation…and to expect the unexpected!


Brown, A. L., & Campione, J. C. (1994). Guided Discovery in a Community of Learners.  In K. McGilly, Ed. Classroom Lessons: Integrating Cognitive Theory and Classroom Practice.  Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, pp. 229-270.