What will the College of Teaching offer classroom teachers, teacher trainers and educators?
Firstly, I want to welcome Professor Dame Alison Peacock as the Chief Executive. This is an excellent appointment and is something worth shouting about.
Leaders must be close enough to relate, but far enough ahead to motivate them. ~ John Maxwell.
These are my views on the College of Teaching.
- It is the right of every teacher, to join (or not) to be part of the College of Teaching.
- If all educators do not get behind the College, we will all be responsible for creating something we do not want.
- To appoint someone who has classroom experience, is an asset to the College and its viability.
- The College has already been working hard to recruit teachers as trustees. Teachers can still sign up!
- The College will stabilise and motivate a fragmented landscape with a strengthened set of professional standards and ethics curated by the community, designed to support and challenge teacher knowledge and mobilisation. How they do this? Well, we all hope to be part of how it is achieved.
- The College will promote quality professional development and will expect all teachers to deliver the best teaching that they can in their classrooms. This is better owned by the College than by the DfE in my opinion.
- The College will promote teaching as an evidence-informed profession, placing teaching at the heart of research. Teachers need access to professional journals and I’m confident the College will be able to secure this landmark.
- Dame Alison Peacock will take on the hopes and dreams of 1000s of teachers. As she says herself, “I cannot do it alone.” Peacock will ask educators to shape policy and dialogue for a profession that deserves the very best. She has already been very active on Twitter, and since her appointment, she has encouraged even the hardest critics to contact her or meet for a discussion.
- This is an opportunity for the teaching profession to create an organisation that would collaborate with and amplify the best that is taking place across the education sector, through early years all the way to teaching and research in higher education institutes.
- The forthcoming membership will offer online knowledge platform and regional hubs, with access to bespoke opportunities, further research and events.
- I understand that, if teachers want to own standards, research journals, events and so forth, we will have to pay for them. My only criticism would be, that access to the College’s online membership platform should be free, with a walled-garden to research for those gaining accreditation at a chartered level.
- I would also hope that by paying to be a member, would not automatically guarantee (chartered or fellowship) accreditation.
As Peacock states in her first announcement, “My role as CEO is to listen to teachers and to start to build something ground-breaking for the benefit of the teaching profession and crucially for the benefit of children and young people, that I hope has a long future well beyond my lifetime. Our vision for the College is one that transcends politics, one that is inclusive, collaborative and accessible and entrusts teachers to determine what is best for the young people they work with in their own classrooms.”
The proposal is this:
Membership (MCCT): Membership of the Chartered College will be open to:
- Those with a contract to teach in the 0-19 sector
- Those qualified to teach in the 0-19 sector
- Those who train those who teach in the 0-19 sector.
The above I hope would be provided free to all those meeting the criteria, and to those only with QTS (or QLTS). This membership should include a portal into the community of members – a trusted network of professionals – a bank of resources, newsletters and termly publications. It would also be useful to consider other educators – who teach – outside of this age range in the longer term. For example, lecturers who teach at FE, university, teachers in adult education and prisons.
Chartered Teacher (CTeach): A rigorous standard that all great teachers will aspire to. It will be awarded by the College to those members who have been assessed against professional principles.
I would hope the above to be a paid annual subscription, affordable and something that would offer access to journals, research and regional events. Press announcements last week suggested membership may be as low as £29. Perhaps if membership reaches beyond the College’s 18-month target of 5,000, the fee could be even lower and affordable?
I would hope that becoming chartered would not automatically allow you or your school to display a badge – I know it will not – but that an audit/evaluation of a teacher and/or a school meeting a certain standard would grant chartered status and that it would be regularly reviewed. My greatest fear is that by paying to become a member, I hope the College will reject applications of those that genuinely do not meet the standards/code of ethics. This of course would need to be a collective decision, with chartered status awarded by the community itself through peer-to-peer review.
It’s ironic really that some who may reject the college, may be educators who are all ‘for testing students’, don’t want ‘measures’ of experience or expertise in teaching. And what would they be afraid of? That they cannot meet the standards themselves, or that the College may become another incarnation of OfSTED? Either way, the College must not become a political pawn. It should as Peacock says, ‘transcend politics’ and preferences.
Fellowship (FCCT): Fellowship would be for teachers who are at the top of their profession. With recognition given to those individuals who have demonstrated excellence in teaching and who can make a significant contribution to the ongoing development of the community, and to the College.
Listen to the 40%:
The College needs to work hard to develop its mission statement, then make the complicated simple. Its synopsis could be:
- What is it for?
- Why should a classroom teacher join?
- How will it benefit teachers?
A one-page summary for busy classroom teachers to access, explaining why they should part with their cash.
The College should secure its future by investing research further into connections with ‘40% people who are not aware of the College‘ (see: Year 2014), rather the 20% who are against the idea – who may without any reliable argument. If the College listens to those (20%) who want to scorn the College before it has started, the College would be wasting valuable time. There is nothing wrong with strong opposition, but this should be considered at a later stage once the concept has a clear aim and the majority of teachers understand its purpose.
Apparently, some online discussions – remember Twitter does not represent the teaching community – have asked for the College to be lead by a classroom teacher. I have no idea who has made such a statement, but if I understand this claim correctly, could a full-time teacher lead the college without any organisational or financial experience? It’s just a ludicrous thought to think someone could be in the classroom and also lead a national organisation.
We should be delighted the organisation has appointed someone who has the classroom experience.
Worse, why would anyone not want an organisation to act on behalf of the profession and control more of our own accountability? A profession that self-regulates itself. There’s nothing better in my opinion. If there is a classroom teacher who has this background, did they apply for the position? If so, do we believe that the appointing panel were foolish to not consider giving the position to a classroom teacher? Surely, the best person for the job, is the best person for the job.
I believe the College has made the right decision.
Alison Peacock brings credibility, competence and trust to the organisation. And now we have this key person in place, the College needs to work hard on connecting with the 40% who are undecided or are unsure about the College’s aims. The mission statement needs to be simplified and the long term strategy communicated, including its goal to reclaim the Teachers’ Standards and to develop a code of ethics for chartered teachers. To me, the College is more than just membership. The greatest fear for any cynic, is that we are now in a strong position to make this work for all of us – and to be honest, they’re petrified it’s now a reality.
If the College becomes something that is ‘done to’ teachers rather than ‘done for’, believe me … I’ll be the first to retract my membership and argue for its demise.
The College of Teaching is not about arranging teachers and telling teachers what to do, this is about nurturing, enhancing and claiming the Teachers’ Standards as our own. And in my opinion, it’s 20 years overdue …
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for those working in 0-19 sector, to have a say in the development of the College of Teaching – good or bad.