Guest post: College of Teaching – The Big Staff Meeting is here!

Claire Dockar, Chair of the College of Teaching and Lead Practitioner at Lipson Co-Operative Academy in Plymouth, marks the launch of The Big Staff Meeting initiative and looks ahead to an exciting 2016 for the teaching profession.

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Time for change

Claire Dockar

Claire Dockar

Firstly, Happy New Year to you and yours! I hope you had a fantastic break and that returning to work isn’t proving too painful.

As we all think about our personal New Year resolutions – better work life balance, shifting some of the excess Christmas weight, finally reading that book that has been sitting on your shelf for most of 2015 – there is surely one New Year resolution that can unite us all in the teaching profession.

The New Year brings with it a chance for a re-think of the teaching profession – one where we can strive to get teachers the respect we deserve and focus on what we love – the art and pedagogy of teaching.

It is unacceptable that commentators abuse us for the actions taken by policy makers, think tanks and consultants who steer us one way and then another every few months. Our pupils are suffering, not just due to constantly changing policies, but because anxious, tired teachers cannot be at their best.

Other professions like surgeons, engineers, physiotherapists and printers have institutions that stand up for them. Why not teachers?

The College of Teaching will be the professional home for teaching, where members share knowledge, set professional standards, ensure high quality professional development and determine a career pathway for teaching.

The College will be independent of government; it will be voluntary and led by its members. We are starting 2016 with a bang by encouraging teachers in every educational setting – schools, colleges, pupil referral units, early years setting – to take part in The Big Staff Meeting, a national consultation on the focus and format of the College.

Take half an hour and get your voice heard

The Big Staff Meeting activity officially starts today (6th January), with the majority of events taking place in January and February.

My school, Lipson Co-operative Academy, was delighted to be one of the first schools in the country to run their Big Staff Meeting and it was an incredible opportunity to connect with colleagues to talk about how a College of Teaching could help tackle some of the key challenges we face around motivation, recruitment and retention in the profession in the future.

It also gave teachers an opportunity to share any questions or concerns they have and I will be working with my fellow Founding Trustees to address these directly with schools and individuals over the coming weeks and months.

Through The Big Staff Meeting, all teachers across the UK can discuss, debate and share with colleagues their views on what a College of Teaching could mean to them. By simply completing an online survey and answering key questions on the scope of future membership and related benefits, teachers can have their voice heard as part of this nationwide consultation.

Downloadable The Big Staff Meeting resources (including an information pack, poster and accompanying PowerPoint slides) have been created to help explain the College’s place in the professional landscape of teaching in the UK and to help schools conduct their meeting. The College is a national initiative and every teacher deserves the opportunity to make an informed choice about membership.

As Steve Baker, Headteacher at Lipson Co-operative Academy, said during our meeting: “Teachers can’t sit back. The College is something teachers need to be involved in.” If you would like to host your own Big Staff Meeting, there is still plenty of time to get involved at 

Alternatively, if you are not able to run or attend a Big Staff Meeting event between now and February half term, you can still answer key membership questions online and have your views counted.

The membership consultation will close on the 26th February and the results will be made available from mid 2016. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to have your say on the future direction of the teaching profession.

Why this matters

When you know your professional body will support you, you can be confident in your knowledge. When you know you stand with your peers to defend and strengthen your pedagogy and practice, you can hold your head high. When you know that you have peers to turn to for help and advice, stress levels start to fall.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and we are currently in a consultation phase where we can explore the different opportunities and concerns together as a profession.

We believe that a College of Teaching led by teachers for teachers, could achieve great things for the profession, including:

  • We would be able to access professional knowledge and development, designed by teachers for teachers.
  • There would be a vision for teaching that we own and believe in.
  • We could put the focus firmly on supporting children and young people and help to turn the tide of negative rhetoric around teaching.
  • Our equal status with other chartered professionals would be set.
  • We would demonstrate why teaching is a respected profession.

We hope you share our excitement that with all this in mind, 2016 is set to be a groundbreaking year for teaching.

Keep in touch – if you have any questions or would like support on running a Big Staff Meeting, please do not hesitate to contact me on

To download The Big Staff Meeting resources, visit: 

Pledge your support for the College at

For further information on the College of Teaching and the Claim Your College coalition, visit or follow us on Twitter @CollOfTeaching #claimyourcollege or Facebook at  

Access resources at

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  1. Nor_edu

    SchoolsImprove the college idea seems to be taking a lot of stick on Twitter, but many none social media teachers have never heard of it.

  2. TW

    “teachers can have their voice heard as part of this nationwide consultation”

    As possibly can anyone else who provides any post code – just like Ofsted’s ‘Parent View’.

    It seems from this –

    that teachers have so far been underwhelmed by this ‘professional body’ run by five teachers, three headteachers and five non-teaching professionals – all teachers welcome to give money.

  3. Davis77Alex

    SchoolsImprove Who commissioned that video? I love the last 50 seconds of guitar music! Are we still filming…?

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