College of Teaching

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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.”

Membership proposal:

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:

  1. What is it for?
  2. Why should a classroom teacher join?
  3. 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.

Congratulations Alison!


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8 thoughts on “College of Teaching

  1. “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.”

    My only disagreement would be that I would hope that the College is something which will embody the aspiration of being “done with’ teachers. It may seem a mute point, but it means a lot to me that it is neither too authoritarian (done to; akin to Ofsted) nor too permissive (done for; akin to unions) but is rather authoritative in recognition of our professional standards and expertise. I mean no disrespect to either but their roles and functions are separate from the mission of the College.

    Otherwise, I couldn’t agree more that we cannot afford to miss this opportunity to assert ownership of our standards and remove the vested interests of a variety of influences within our great vocation. Quality assurance is a vital element of ensuring we help our children to reach their fullest potential and no teacher should fear that Q/A when it rests within our own hands.

    As for the 20% or so who reject the College, let’s open up the debate in public – not on Twitter! All the main protagonists have been consulted so I am sure they will play a significant role in further debate.

    Great contribution Ross.

  2. I am a supporter of the CoT – I think there is a real need for it. I realise that not everyone thinks this, and, well, that’s fine…you don’t have to join or have anything to do with it if you don’t want to.

    Ross has pointed out a lot of positives, as well as some concerns and recommendations of his own. Here are some of my thoughts, based on my reading of media pieces and Claim Your College and College of Teaching materials over the last 18 months or so.

    Teachers need a voice within the media and when dealing with policy makers when those Sunday morning pronouncements and unanticipated policy changes are made. How many times do we hear of a new policy via the Sunday papers, see it commented on, recommended or rejected before we ever hear from anyone who’s spent or is spending their career in the classroom? Yes, we have the unions…we wouldn’t want to be without them in their extremely valuable role in protecting and promoting our pay and working conditions. But the profession itself should be in charge of pedagogical discussions and should have representation in policy development.

    The broader the teacher base here, the better. If the CoT develops by recommending one style of teaching over another, or by closing down debate on the validity of different methods, then it’s not going to develop teaching or the teaching profession at all. But my understanding is that that’s not going to happen – one of the key aims of the CoT, as with other chartered professional bodies – is to develop, not inhibit, the knowledge base of the profession and to further career long teacher learning through improved access to research and validated experts. When I spoke to newly appointed CEO Alison Peacock last week, she made the point that teacher expertise must also be recognised and that rather than only importing ‘expert’ views into teaching practice, often seen as a ‘top down’ judgement on teachers, we should also be developing teachers’ opportunities to share their expertise and successes in rigorous ways. Regional CoT hubs and national discussion groups can enable this, and can form a reliable knowledge base from which teachers can draw in developing methods and resources.

    You might not feel that you need any of this. Perhaps you work within a big MAT who really have developed extensive CPD systems, career development channels or networks of advisers? Ark and Harris, among others, have developed excellent practice. Dixons have developed training that supports and challenges teachers to develop practices that focus almost forensically on learner development. And while 60% of secondary schools are academies, not all of these are well connected and well developed in terms of mature CPD provision. Many stand alone schools offer brilliant CPD but don’t have much chance to share their models with others. Most importantly though, and always my main focus when I think about the TEACHER at the heart of the profession, is the issue of recognition. If I’ve been a lead practitioner, or worked in an SSAT school, or undertaken TEEP, or a recognised leadership course, these are externally accredited and therefore portable qualifications. If I haven’t, and I want to move schools, how do I show what I know, and what I can do?

    Part of the CoT’s membership offer and chartered structure will enable a teacher to develop skills and learning in ways that their current employer might not be able to offer. It can provide access to knowledge and an academic world that many of us in rural or outlying districts find difficult. Yes, researchEd provide great events – the sort of events I personally feel teachers should be accessing – but it’s not easy for us all to get to these. They did a Leeds event, yes. That’s three hours away from me. A York event, likewise. A London event means a £113 train ticket, a 5am start, and often an overnight stay as well. We need an organisation that can bring similar events to our doorsteps, organised by local teachers, partnered with local teaching school alliances and HE institutions.

    The CoT’s charter means that it can exist “in perpetuity”. It can exist beyond the lifetime of the current government, and the next and the next… It can provide a steady path for the profession whatever political changes might come. It’ll take a long time to get it fully up and running as a mature professional organisation and there’s a danger of expecting too much too soon. In reality, the CoT doesn’t really exist ‘yet’. It’s in development. It’s just moved into a new stage with the announcement of Dame Alison Peacock as CEO, with her role to commence in January 2017. It’s like announcing your pregnancy as you move into the second trimester. There’s still a long way to go and a lot of growth needs to happen.

    Teachers, if they want to see this organisation succeed, need to get involved in shaping it. They need to discuss membership proposals, CPD ideas or regional needs. Chase up the links Ross has suggested here and look at the site, the @CollofTeaching Twitter feed or the College of Teaching Facebook page. You could look at Gareth Alcott’s Pinterest page of many articles written about the College. Sign up for newsletters and consultations. Think of where this could take us in years to come.

    Lisa Pettifer @Lisa7Pettifer

    1. Thanks Lisa. The CoT is all about the teacher developing this as their own. And critics should be involved to develop it as their own, not call for it to be shut down before it has had any chance to be kick-started.

  3. I think I am probably one of the few remaining professionals who actually had a dedicated 3 yr training course to be a teacher rather than go to University, such was my ambition and dedication to be a teacher and nothing else. I later gained my Advanced Diploma in Education and M A (Ed) through the Open University and qualified as an Ofsted inspector. After 47 years in education there are several aspects I think something like the college itself should address.
    1. The Education system does not value education. When I was awaiting the result of my Ad Dip Ed a friend was awaiting the result of a comparable qualification in finance as he worked for Inland Revenue. When we both “succeeded” doors opened for him and he was absolutely gob smacked that it made absolutely no difference in education. He was actually head hunted as soon as the results were published. In France as you gain a relevant qualification your status is enhanced.
    2. In our education system far too much power lies in the hands of Heads, Principals or whatever the current buzzword is.
    With all my experience, achievements, good track record, good exam results and excellent qualifications under one head I was in the position where I had to become a Cover Supervisor to avoid capability procedures, within a few months of the new head I was re-instated as a teacher managing a development initiative.
    3. Whilst studying for my MA and attending summer schools at universities I was amazed at the amount of research material was available, but not available to serving teachers in the normal environment. I had the privilege during this period of producing original research relevant to my institution and I think this should be encouraged.

    I believe the profession needs a self regulating body to encourage development but also the clout to represent teachers to the powers that be (BMA?) and to provide professional qualifications that are recognised and make a difference.

    My worry is this would need the backing of the profession and my experience is that that is virtually impossible.

    Even with my reservations I still think it is a worthwhile development.

    1. The College will need to work hard to a) make purpose clear to teachers b) find a way fro teachers to be heavily involved in key decisions e.g. trustees and c) engage with every educator across England to ensure its mission is clear and known/understood by everyone. Only then can we start to shape the college as something that is ours – regardless of teaching preferences, politics and roles/responsibilities. Not an easy feat to achieve.

  4. “The College will need to work hard to a) make purpose clear to teachers”

    I think what you meant to say here was that the COT should not need to work had to make it’s purpose clear, after all it should have been teachers (representative of all teachers not a few) who developed the mission and vision. It should not have been for Govt to bail the thing out once it was roundly rejected even in it’s embyonic form by “teachers”.

    “Chartered Teacher (CTeach): A rigorous standard that all great teachers will aspire to”

    I really do not think you are aware how insulting this is to the vast majority of outstanding teachers out there who do an outstanding job day in and day out who do not need such a badge to demonstrate their competence. Didn’t they try something similar in Scotland. There are about 450,000 teachers in England. a target of 5000 is pitiful.

    Your comment and all other information I have seen, indicates that the COT will be an elitist, pompous and irrelevant organisation for most teachers the vast majority of whom are great teachers.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not a naysayer. I am simply a teacher and ex business analyst that simply calls things as I see them.

    I have no personal interest one way or the other. I will be retiring soon and until then it is likely I will be teaching outside the UK…(legalisation of papers permitting). I will not be joining, but if Oldandrew manages to organise a crowdfunded competitor comprising classroom teachers which does indeed represent classroom teachers I will join in a heartbeat.

    One of the issues for me is that it will take more than a few sycophantic contributions to change the views people have formed on the basis of the evidence.

    My wife has a similar strategy to the COT when buying xmas presents, the choice of which I do not agree with.

    She asks me to come out and choose an “appropriate X”, knowing that I don’t wish to buy and X. I have two choices…

    1 To go along and be involved with something I do not agree with
    2 Decline the invitation, in the knowledge that later in the proces I will be told…”well you chose not to get involved”, that was your choice

    This is clearly a lose-lose situation for me and I have learned to live that. I did try for a while to attempt to talk my wife around but that didnt end well.

    The COT is a similar setup. If you dont get involved “to help shape the thing”, you are a naysayer who passed up the chance to be involved. If you get involved, it is clear that the direction of the thing is already set. For most teachers this is a lose-lose situation and has been since the Government funded the thing following rejection by the average classroom teacher.

    Such is life

    1. Brian, thanks for your feedback. To answer your comment, I will reply one sentence/para. at a time.

      Agree. Government bail out, but at least it has now happened. And yes, led by teachers to establish its mission statement. Absolutely.
      CoT created this statement, not me. Nothing wrong with rigour though. And yes, the vast majority of teachers, are rigorous.
      If the CoT becomes pompous, I’ll be the first to leave.
      I doubt anything else will be sustainable through crowd-funding. CoT includes teachers, so I really do not see the problem.
      As for your wife and Xmas, I cannot comment. We’ve all been there and we know it’s better to ‘play for a draw’ rather than lose-lose in my opinion 🙂

      And I do not think the CoT is 100% set at all. I firmly believe the DfE will have very little to say. Of course they will want to get involved over time … They have no say re. the appointment of a CEO, and I really do think Alison is respected and the perfect choice to take this forward. Government funds are, after all, taxpayers money… so teachers have already had their destiny kick-started.

      We’ll just have to agree to disagree on this. I know the CoT is not perfect, but it’s a damn lot better than what we’ve currently got.

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