The professional learning of new teachers in Scotland

Research output: Contribution to conferenceUnpublished paperpeer-review


The current Scottish induction scheme was introduced in 2002. It guarantees teacher education graduates a full-time teaching post in their induction year with 0.7 teaching load, 0.3 for continuing professional development (CPD) and a designated mentor. During the induction year teachers must satisfy the Standard for Full Registration. (General Teaching Council of Scotland, 2006) This and other standards can be seen as a framework underpinning teachers’ CPD. However,
there is growing recognition of a gap in CPD provision, namely, the immediate post-induction period (Hulme et al, 2008). The Scottish Teachers for a New Era (STNE) project at the University of Aberdeen has introduced a 6 year programme to help bridge this gap and provide a continuum of support to new teachers in their early career transitions.

Until recently, teacher development, workplace learning and induction have been treated as discrete areas of research (Williams, 2003). In order tounderstand the professional learning of new teachers it is important to explore these three
strands together. One way to explore new teachers’ learning is to see whether they move from novice status to fully fledged participants in a community of practice (Lave and Wenger, 1991). A teacher’s background, their disposition to learning and their learning environment all play a role in how they learn to be a teacher. Peer support and developing micro-political literacy can also be important in their early teaching career.

The main research question is: how do CPD and other learning, for example workplace learning, support new teachers in Scotland through the first two years of their teaching career?

Research sub-questions are:
• What is the nature of CPD and other learning that new teachers experience?
• What factors affect the development and learning of new teachers in their early career transitions?
• How can this be reflected in developments in policy and practice?

The research is essentially focused on a mixed methods approach with an explanatory design. Questionnaires of new teachers graduating from the University of Aberdeen in 2008 and 2009 will highlight specific issues to be covered in semi-structured interviews with a subset of those surveyed. The research will be conducted over a two year period thus providing detailed insight into any changes in the teachers’ attitudes towards their professional learning and the factors that influence them.

Analysis of the questionnaires and interviews will include a comparison of the responses and experiences of graduates from the STNE B.Ed. degree to those who completed the old-style B.Ed.

There will also be analysis of CPD documentation (for example, career entry profile and GTCS profile). The websites of the interviewed teachers’ schools will be examined to provide contextual data on their learning environment. This approach enables triangulation of different data sources: questionnaire responses; interviews; and documentation.

The first survey has been completed and the first round of interviews begins in January 2009. Data from this initial stage of the research will be explored.

General Teaching Council for Scotland, 2006, ‘The Standard for Full Registration’, 2nd edition, General Teaching Council for Scotland, Edinburgh.

Hulme, Moira; Elliot, Dely; McPhee, Alastair; Patrick, Fiona (2008) Professional culture among new entrants to the teaching profession’ - Report to the General Teaching Council of Scotland and the Scottish Government, University of Glasgow, Glasgow.

Lave, Jean and Wenger, Etienne (1991) ‘Situated Learning Legitimate peripheral participation’, Cambridge University Press, New York.

Williams, Anne (2003) ‘Informal Learning in the Workplace: a case study of new teachers’, Educational Studies, 29:2/3, 207.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2009
EventBritish Education Research Association Conference - UK, Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 2 Sep 20095 Sep 2009


ConferenceBritish Education Research Association Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • induction year teachers
  • teacher learning
  • workplace learning


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