Common Issues for both Independent and State School Teachers in Scotland

Created on: 19 Apr 2023 | Last modified: 09 Nov 2023

Whilst there is some variability within the Independent School Sector, teachers there and in the state sector generally:

  • Deliver teaching and learning based on Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence;
  • Use similar pedagogies and teaching resources;
  • Plan, deliver and assess pupil learning
  • Support pupils with ASN, promote emotional health and well-being, including developing self-esteem and providing opportunities to maximise independence;
  • Work in collaboration with multi-professional and multi-agency teams;
  • Deliver SQA Qualifications and Assessments;
  • Work in schools that are subject to Education Scotland (HMIe) inspections
  • Need to be GTCS Registered and maintain that registration;
  • Work in schools that provide experiences for probationer teachers that are similar to the GTCS Teacher Induction Scheme
  • Are subject to disciplinary, grievance, capability and redundancy procedures that have the legal right to be accompanied by a trade union representative, even if the school does not formally recognise any trade union
  • Have similar pay and conditions of service to SNCT pay and conditions; and
  • National policies and practices are often implemented in independent schools.

Possible differences between Independent and State School Teachers in Scotland:

  • State school teachers are employed by the Local Authority, not by a Company/Charity that is usually the legal entity behind independent schools;
  • Independent schools in Scotland have the power to set their own pay and conditions of service although many shadow aspects of nationally agreed pay and conditions.
  • Some independent school teachers have access to state-backed pension schemes for teachers– such as the defined benefit CARE pension for state teachers delivered by the STPS (Scottish Teachers’ Pension Scheme) whilst other independent schools have individual arrangements;
  • Most independent schools do not formally recognise trade unions as representing in collective negotiation and bargaining for pay and other key terms or conditions, and instead have a general 'staff forum'. Trade unions have a limited, if any, role  in negotiating pay, T&Cs or policies. (For the avoidance of doubt, independent schools teachers still have the legal right to be accompanied to formal meetings);
  • The headteacher and governing body are usually the final arbiter in independent schools, and the headteacher will have more powers that a state school headteacher who is overseen by the local authority;
  • Disciplinary, grievance, capability and redundancy procedures are usually processed more quickly within the independent school sector, and are often more erratic or arbitrary in the way that they are processed compared to local authorities;
  • Parent power is greater in independent schools than in state schools (although it is growing in the latter);
  • The pupil dynamic may also be different in an independent school than in state schools, although pupil exclusion processes occur in both sectors.