GTCS 2024 Memorandum: PGDE History Entry Requirements

Calling all teachers, educators, academics and folks interested in education! The Classical Association of Scotland needs your help. As you may be aware, we currently do not have any easily accessible routes for Classics students to enter secondary teacher training. There has not been a Latin and/or Classical Studies pathway in Scottish-based teacher training centres for over a decade. This situation is one which CAS (in conjunction with others) is dedicated to changing. Equally, if not more frustrating, has been a restriction within the existing entry requirements for Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) History courses, which realistically meant that Ancient History graduates could not apply for teacher training courses in History, should they have wished to do so.

To provide a little background, the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) oversees the entry requirements for prospective trainee teachers, nationally. In order to access a PGDE programme, students are required to demonstrate that they possess 80 university-level credits in relevant subjects recognised by the Scottish Credits and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). In the case of History, however, an additional caveat stated that candidates would only be permitted to use Ancient History courses for half of that threshold. No other period of history, from medieval to modern, was subject to this credit restriction.

In 2021-22, CAS Secretary, Dr Alex Imrie, reached out to GTCS for an explanation for this unique and singular restriction. While there was a generic response that this was to ensure that PGDE candidates were aligned more with the predominantly modern SQA History syllabi, no one could explain why Ancient History was subject to this restriction while other medieval and pre-modern degree programmes were not. After a lengthy email conversation, CAS was invited to participate in a Specialist Knowledge Group to make the case for removing the restriction on Ancient History as part of the 2024 GTCS Memorandum (in which changes to national programmes are consulted on and put into action). We were represented at this meeting by National Council member Jennifer Shearer, herself trained as a History teacher.

At the meeting with GTCS, we outlined the case for allowing Ancient History graduates to apply for teacher training positions in History in the same way as any other historian. CAS submitted a case that noted the following: the unfairness of the current restrictions; the fact that the skills needed to teach History are instilled regardless of which period one studies; allowing ancient historians to enter the workplace as secondary History teachers would only enrich the collective knowledge base; and that SQA already supports pre-modern modules, including one on Iron Age Britain at Advanced Higher, which would self-evidently be best led by those with knowledge of Ancient History. we also noted that the current guidelines disincentivise talented graduates in Ancient History and classical subjects from pursuing teaching careers in Scotland (a deeply troubling position, given the national recruitment and retention crises currently being seen within the profession).

CAS’s submission was met favourably, with support from figures in Education Scotland and colleagues in Archaeology (also looking to have the existing entry requirements for History expanded). We have thus now managed to reach the public consultation phase.

The proposed revision for the GTCS entry requirements will thus read: Applicants must have a minimum of 80 SCQF credit points in History or Ancient History with a maximum of 40 SCQF credit points from Archaeology.

This is an opportunity to affect lasting change in the teaching sector within Scotland, and to further improve long-term prospects for talented graduates in classical subjects who currently lack the option to pursue a teaching career in Scotland. CAS believes that the proposed change to subject entry requirements for teacher training in History only benefit every potential stakeholder in the equation. In order for the amendment to be finalised, however, it must pass the open consultation phase.

CAS therefore encourages all friends and colleagues who are involved in education, including students and prospective teachers, to fill in the GTCS questionnaire here (the form is under the heading regarding the Memorandum on Entry Requirements): 

The consultation is open until 21st March, but we encourage respondents to submit the questionnaire as quickly as possible. Thank you.


Dr Alex Imrie (CAS Secretary)
On Behalf of the CAS National Council