Part Four: The GTCS standard for teaching in primary schools

In this section, I will consider the GTCS standard for full registration to teach in primary schools. I will evaluate the extent to which I have attained the standard, identify areas for further development and consider how to address these issues. I will consider three inter-related categories, professional knowledge and understanding, professional skills and abilities and professional values and personal commitment. I will refer in particular to the following benchmarks:

•  Curriculum:- 1.1.2, 1.1.3

•  Education Systems and Professional Responsibilities:- 1.2.1

•  Principles and Perspectives:- 1.3.1, 1.3.2

•  Teaching and Learning:- 2.1.1, 2.1.5

•  Assessment of pupils:- 2.3.1

•  Professional Reflection and Communication:- 2.4.2

•  Professional vales and personal commitment:- 3.1

I will relate these to my own primary teaching experience to date (including my recent four-day assignment at Hillside Primary School ) and to my previous teaching experience in other sectors.

1.1.2 highlights knowledge and understanding of the content of the curriculum relating to literacy and numeracy in the national guidance. The CfE principles and practice documents for both literacy and numeracy each emphasise the relevance of literacy and numeracy as skills for life and encourage teachers to ask the question, “How am I meeting the literacy and numeracy needs of the learners in front of me?” In the Vikings teaching project, I introduced a learning experience relating to literacy, in the lesson on English words with a Viking provenance, and one linked to numeracy, with the Viking time lines exercise. More important than the particular exercises themselves is the requirement to keep literacy and numeracy in mind in my day-to-day teaching and look for opportunities to practise these skills frequently. In future lessons, I would seek to revisit these issues and develop them in different contexts. I would seek to deepen my understanding of the developmental stages of literacy and numeracy in children with reference to Piaget's theoretical framework and the writing of Lilian Katz as cited by Pollard , the CfE experiences and outcomes for literacy and numeracy and discussions with colleagues.

Benchmark 1.13 relates to long-term and short-term planning. In section two of this assignment, I discussed MacDougall's eight-step planning structure with its emphasis on how the teaching and learning evaluation should feed into the learning experiences planned for a subsequent lesson. I would seek to achieve this more consistently in future lessons. Andrew Pollard describes how “reflective teaching is applied in a cyclical or spiralling process, in which teachers monitor, evaluate and revise their own practice continuously”. Reflection is an integral part of planning and planning is a dynamic process that can change during the lesson itself.

Benchmark 1.2.1 refers to the Curriculum for Excellence initiative and to the values that underpin it. My theoretical study of CfE has given me a good understanding of the rationale and background to the initiative; my primary observation and my teaching in the Vikings project has provided me with an opportunity to apply this understanding in the primary classroom. In particular, I have tried to apply CfE's fundamental principles of equality of opportunity in providing inclusive learning experiences via cooperative learning and formative assessment practices. I have kept in mind Tony Booth's fundamental question “Whose school is it?” and believe that it is incumbent on the school and its staff to work towards providing for the education and welfare of all the children in the locality.

Benchmark 1.3.1 and 1.3.2 refer to my professional values and their relation to theoretical principles and perspectives. Assessment A provided me with the opportunity to explore the socio-cultural theory of learning, which Watkins calls Learning is Building Knowledge as Part of Doing Things With Others (LBKO) . He describes how “new knowledge emerges in the process of social activity and especially in dialogue” and this theory underpinned my planned learning experience in the Vikings project. Theoretical study cemented what was previously a tacit understanding of my professional values and it should be part of my entire teaching career, giving me pause for reflection and new impetus for my work in the classroom.

Benchmark 2.1.1 refers to planning. My understanding of the planning guidelines set out in section two of this assignment has enabled me to recognise the flaws in my planning for the Vikings project and will help me to address some of these issues in future lessons.

Benchmark 2.1.5 refers to teachers' work with other professionals, staff and parents. My advocacy of cooperative learning (between pupils) extends to my work with colleagues. In the Vikings project, I collaborated with the Head teacher, the classroom teacher and the learning support staff and spoke informally with parents about the experience. The extent to which I could do this was limited by time. My understanding of Brookfield 's third lens (peer review of teaching from a colleague's experiences, observations and feedback) has led me to the realisation that I have ploughed too lonely a furrow in the past. I look forward to working closely with colleagues in my future career in primary education.

Benchmark 2.3.1 refers to the principles of assessment, recording and reporting. The CfE initiative espouses the value of formative assessment and I attempted to incorporate techniques for formative assessment into my teaching. Formative assessment has been neglected in favour of too much summative assessment in the past and I believe in its value as a democraticising agent in schools.

Benchmark 2.4.2 requires teachers to

•  possess, in discussion of educational matters, thorough understanding of the important issues;

•  write in a clear and concise way to substantiate arguments and conclusions.

This course of study has enabled me to refresh and deepen my understanding of the important issues in education and to identify areas where more study and reflection is required. My submission to the Head teacher at Hillside Primary (requesting participation in the Vikings project) is indicative of my ability to write clearly and concisely, as is my submission for Assignment A.

Finally, benchmark 3.1 refers to my commitment to social justice, inclusion and caring for and protecting children. In my early career as a secondary teacher, I saw myself as having two roles: an MFL teacher and an Assistant Year Head. I now see my teaching role as indivisible from the part I have to play in what Rosemary Webb and Graham Vulliamy describe as “primary schools' growing social work responsibilities …” My familiarity with the legal provisions safeguarding the rights of children has increased over the course of study. My action in protecting children would be taken on the basis of my own professional judgement in close consultation with colleagues and other professionals.

Learning and Teaching Scotland (Undated). Curriculum for Excellence. Available:

[Date Accessed: 07/12/2009]


Learning and Teaching Scotland (Undated). Curriculum for Excellence. Available:

[Date Accessed: 07/12/2009]

Learning and Teaching Scotland (Undated). Curriculum for Excellence. Available:

[Date Accessed: 07/12/2009]

Learning and Teaching Info (Undated). Piaget. Available:

[Date Accessed: 07/12/2009]

(Pollard, pp.146-9, 2002)


Learning and Teaching Scotland (Undated). Curriculum for Excellence. Available:

[Date Accessed: 07/12/2009]


Learning and Teaching Scotland (Undated). Curriculum for Excellence. Available:

[Date Accessed: 07/12/2009]


POLLARD, A., (2005), p.14

THOMAS, G. AND VAUGHAN, M., (2004), p. 59

WATKINS, C., (2003) , pp. 14-16

WATKINS, C., (2003) , pp. 14-16

KING, M., AND HIBBISON, E.P., (Undated). The Importance of Critical Reflection in College Teaching: Two Reviews of Stephen Brookfield's Book, Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. Available:

[Date Accessed: 10/12/2009]

POLLARD, A., (2002), p.50

Back to Contents

Back to Introduction