External Change Agents in Professional Learning: The Case of the General Teaching Council Scotland

Pauline Stephen* (Corresponding Author), Charlaine Simpson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter explores the role of external change agents in professional development, through the lens of the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTC Scotland). The influence that GTC Scotland has had historically on professional development is discussed. First, a historical overview builds an understanding of the conditions that led to the establishment of GTC Scotland over 55 years ago, rooted in concerns about teacher quality. Then, consideration is given to the impact of an independent teaching council on contemporary developments. The nature of GTC Scotland’s ‘externality’ as a registration and regulatory body for teaching is considered. Through critical reflection on key examples of GTC Scotland’s influence in and on practice, key themes are surfaced to explore inherent tensions in an external change agent’s role in mediating system change in professional development expectations, opportunities and processes and highlight the unique position of GTC Scotland in navigating different sets of expectations, at different levels of the Scottish education system.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Teacher Education Research
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-59533-3
Publication statusPublished - 29 Dec 2022


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