Claire Dockar, Chair of the College of Teaching and Lead Practitioner at Lipson Co-Operative Academy in Plymouth, explores the need for a College of Teaching to put the profession on a par with Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants and other professions with chartered representation and invites all teachers to take part in The Big Staff Meeting.
Who needs a College of Teaching?
Teaching is a standout example of a major profession that has to date had no independent professional body. In my opinion, and in the views of many, a College of Teaching is needed and there is a growing feeling that we are going into a new year on the brink of change.
The absence of such a body has resulted in government defining professional practice over the years, disempowering the profession and affecting the standing of teaching in society.
Teachers are becoming increasingly frustrated with accountability that does not help learners and recruitment and retention is harder than ever. Given the central importance of education, it’s quite frankly staggering that there is no single cohesive body that can uphold respected standards of professional practice as set by the profession.
The College is being set up as a new independent, chartered professional body set up specifically for the teaching profession. Led by teachers for teachers, the College will be an autonomous, voluntary and member-driven body that will demonstrate a deep commitment to high professional standards, continuing professional development and evidence-informed practice.
The College of Teaching has been driven forward by the Claim Your College coalition – a movement of 450 individuals and organisations including a wide-ranging and diverse group of teachers, schools, subject associations, unions and school improvement organisations.
The College is led by a board of Founding Trustees, including myself and seven other class teachers and Headteachers. We were appointed by an independent selection committee, with experience in primary, secondary and SEN from across local, independent, government-funded and direct-funded schools.
As a Board, we are consulting with the teaching profession to help establish the membership and benefits of the College of Teaching. Whilst support and interest is growing, we recognise that we have a long way to go to reach every teacher and educator in the country to ensure they are a) aware of the College of Teaching and its potential and b) able to take opportunities to shape the College and to share challenge.
Introducing The Big Staff Meeting
We are calling on all teachers across every phase and stage (early years, FE, primary, secondary, special educational needs, higher education etc.) to take part in The Big Staff Meeting – a national consultation on the future membership of the College.
All teachers can have their views counted and join with colleagues to debate and share what a College of Teaching could mean to them and their schools, Colleges and settings through Big Staff Meeting events.
Previous research of 13,000 respondents (75% of which were classroom teachers and subject leaders) undertaken earlier this year has indicated that the following benefits would be ranked as ‘extremely valuable’ or ‘valuable’ as a membership benefit to the College:
- Professional knowledge sharing (91.2%) – access to a quality assured and diverse professional knowledge base, drawing from academic research and teachers’ judgements of the best ways to help children succeed in specific contexts.
- A common code of practice (87.5%) – reflecting aspirational standards of teaching, an evidence informed approach to practice, ethical behaviour, promotion of the profession and the best possible opportunities for learners.
- Professional development (85.9%) – providing a career pathway that informs access to high-quality professional development and learning and being supported by a Mentor.
- Recognition by schools (84.1%) – demonstrating a school’s commitment to providing access to professional learning and accreditation, including peer-to-peer review.
- Professional standards (82.0%) – Members of the College will be accredited against valid, portable, respected, sector-led standards; these will provide opportunities for career development, confer status and inspire respect.
The Big Staff Meeting gives all schools, Colleges and wider educational settings the chance to make their views count on the scope of membership and the related benefits.
The Big Staff Meeting information pack and accompanying PowerPoint slides explains the College’s place in the professional landscape of teaching in the UK. The College is a national initiative and every teacher deserves the opportunity to make an informed choice about membership.
Many schools are using half an hour on their inset day on January 6th (The official Big Staff Meeting Day) but you can take part whenever suits you in the lead up to February half term.
Whenever teachers decide to join in, they are being encouraged to go online at claimyourcollege.org.uk and register their responses to key membership questions by the 26th February.
The membership consultation will close at the end of February 2016 and the results will be made available from mid 2016.
Why would I join this movement?
Understandably a number of teachers and educators are asking this question and it was one that I asked myself before I pledged my support. One of the concerns I hear a lot is ‘will the College be like the General Teaching Council (GTC)?’
The short answer is no! The GTC was involved in regulation and striking off; a College of
Teaching will focus on aspiration, professional development and children’s needs.
The independence of the College of Teaching will be maintained by its governance structure, its charitable status and, in time, its status as a chartered professional body. Any future start-up funding from the Government would only be accepted on the condition that the College remains fully independent.
The new College is committed to improving the education of children and young people by supporting teachers’ development, recognising excellence and enhancing the status of teaching. Whilst working collaboratively, the College will be independent of unions and will not seek to represent teachers on matters such as pay and conditions.
I believe there are number of reasons to join this exciting movement including:
- We have a much-needed opportunity to reclaim our right to access the professional knowledge and development we deserve.
- Together we can turn the tide on the negative rhetoric surrounding teachers and teaching and put the focus on supporting children and young people.
- The College gives us an opportunity to create a vision for teaching that we own and believe in.
- Ultimately this movement has the potential to bring teaching in line with other chartered professions like engineering, accounting and medicine.
Importantly, the College will unite the teaching profession to come together to set its own standards and challenge teachers to be ever better for those they serve. Once membership of the College begins, the opportunities for the profession are endless through a unified independent body where colleagues can come together for support and inspiration.
We hope you will join us to shape the College of Teaching and make history. Together, we can exchange and use meaningful research work, recognise and champion teachers who excel through their professionalism and ensure that students directly benefit from the rise in professional skill and expertise.
To download The Big Staff Meeting resources, visit: claimyourcollege.org/big-staff-meeting
Pledge your support for the College at claimyourcollege.hubbub.net
For further information on the College of Teaching and the Claim Your College coalition, visit http://www.claimyourcollege.org/ or follow us on Twitter @CollOfTeaching #claimyourcollege or Facebook at www.facebook.com/claimyourcollege
Access resources and myth-buster factsheets at http://www.claimyourcollege.org/resources/
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