Victoria McDowell, teacher at Bridekirk Dovenby Primary School and Founding Trustee of the College of Teaching, makes the case for why teaching needs to join medicine, law, accountancy and other professions in having its own chartered representation
Teaching is a standout example of a major profession that to date has had no independent professional body. The new College of Teaching is committed to improving the education of children and young people by supporting teachers’ development, recognising excellence and enhancing the status of teaching.
The College will be an autonomous, voluntary and member-driven body led by teachers. Its Charter will provide full independence from government and whilst working collaboratively, the College will also be independent of unions, not seeking to represent teachers on matters such as pay and conditions.
The College will demonstrate a deep commitment to high professional standards, CPD and evidence-informed practice. Importantly, it will encourage the teaching profession to come together to set its own standards and challenge teachers to be ever better for those they serve.
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.
In September this year, the College of Teaching announced its Founding Trustees, which include myself and seven other class teachers and headteachers, who are playing key roles in the leadership and governance of the new body.
The Trustees 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 now consulting with the teaching profession to help establish the membership and benefits of the College of Teaching.
We are keen to ensure that the College develops at a sustainable pace. As part of this, we are seeking further start-up funding through a crowdfunding campaign, where funding secured directly from the profession will match-fund charitable and philanthropic donations.
Earlier this year, 13,000 respondents – 75% of them classroom teachers and subject leaders – were asked what College of Teaching membership benefits they would value.
The top five benefits ranked as ‘valuable’ or ‘extremely valuable’ were:
• 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%)
Provision of a career pathway that informs access to high-quality professional development and learning with support from 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.
Good teachers know good teaching
The College of Teaching recently launched The Big Staff Meeting – an initiative that will explore teachers’ views on the scope of College membership and its related benefits should be. Teachers across all phases and stages are being invited to take part in this national membership consultation and have their views counted.
Many schools will be devoting half an hour of their upcoming inset days on January 6th 2016 to run their Meeting. Whenever teachers decide to join in, they are being encouraged to go online and register their responses to key membership questions by the 26th February.
The Big Staff Meeting information pack [PDF] and accompanying PowerPoint slides [PPTX] explain 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.
By taking just half an hour to meet with colleagues through The Big Staff Meeting, teachers can play a key role in shaping the College. The membership consultation will close at the end of February 2016, and the results will be made available from mid 2016.
The opportunities are endless
The absence of a body such as the College of Teaching 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 is harder than ever. 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. 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 resulting rise in professional skill and expertise.