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CPD, Leadership, Redesigning Schools

Teachers Doing It for Themselves? #WorldClassTeacher

It can be really difficult to suspend your disbelief when politicians start making decent suggestions just prior to a general election.  However, to help bring us back down to Earth step forward SMW.  It’s been a funny old week.

Ofsted's Annual Report

The rhetoric within A World Class Teaching Profession (December 2014) from the Department for Education couldn’t have been in starker contrast to the news reports following the release of Ofsted’s Annual Report.  Maybe it’s Ofsted’s ability to improve the education system that has stalled?

Not Inspectors, Not Politicians, Not Quangos or Consultants but Teachers

What fascinated me most about the consultation document was the language used and the new meta-narrative about the profession.  What was also interesting is who was not mentioned.

Up and down the country, teachers and school leaders are doing truly amazing things every day, transforming the lives of children and young people while constantly working to improve their own professional practice.

Teaching should rightly enjoy an equally high status as professions such as medicine and law.

DfE, A World Class Teaching Profession (December 2014)

The message here is unreservedly positive, almost gushing, about teachers and the impact they are having.  This is what I see in schools and how I feel about the people who work in them.  We need to keep talking teaching and schools up.  Not in a blind way, that would stop us looking at ways to improve, but in a way that would make our highest attaining, most emotionally literate and morally committed graduates want to work in them.  If this “talk” was supported by politicians and the media then the status of the profession would be significantly enhanced.  Many parents I speak to are already positive about schools as are children.

Photo Credit: Swansea Photographer via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Swansea Photographer via Compfight cc

 

Not Inspectors, Not Politicians, Not Quangos or Consultants but Schools

Together, we have taken the first steps towards enabling the teaching profession to use its own outstanding performers as its most valuable resource for improvement.

We have helped schools build an infrastructure that enables school-to-school support and improvement.

This consultation marks our commitment to build on the progress made so far by helping teachers to go even further in raising the standards of their profession.

DfE, A World Class Teaching Profession (December 2014)

Whilst concerned about an over emphasis on Teaching Schools throughout the document the thinking in these statements is potentially powerful.  These quotes talk to me of a school-led self-improving system.  Words can be very powerful predictors of the future.  New language often precedes new actions and ways of working.  Are we seeing the start of a fundamental shift, a systemic change on how we view and will seek to improve the school system?

The moral purpose behind collective responsibility for all children in all schools, school networks consisting of helping and helpful relationships, deep professional learning communities and opportunities for high impact, low stakes peer assisted accountability would all be natural consequences of this shifting narrative.

Not Inspectors, Not Politicians, Not Quangos or Consultants but Professional Development

PC & Marginal Gains

At the heart of our proposals is a belief that teaching should be a learning profession, whose members have access to high-quality, evidence-based development and improvement opportunities throughout their careers and are committed to seizing those opportunities.

The most successful countries clearly recognise the fundamental truth that the quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers.  In Singapore and South Korea, in Shanghai and in Finland, entry to teaching is fiercely competitive and the profession remains the choice of the very best graduates.  Teachers are trusted and autonomous professionals, rewarded accordingly, who respond by taking responsibility for their own career-long development and improvement.  They work together as a professional community, engaging in cutting-edge research and basing their own practice on the best available evidence of what works.  They are accountable for the impact they have on their pupils, and they constantly strive to better their own knowledge, skills and expertise. As a result, the voice of the teaching profession is a powerful and respected one.

We believe that we can move a significant way towards that goal by putting more powers in the hands of an increasingly self-improving teaching profession, whilst continuing to support and nurture our teachers’ commitment to their own continuous improvement and development.

DfE, A World Class Teaching Profession (December 2014)

The challenge to ensure that we prepare teachers for the classroom through developing their deep understanding of relevant theory and rigorous class room practice is a good challenge.  This must continue throughout a teachers career.  The thought of a more attractive, collegial working environment allied with mentoring & coaching and the opportunity to enquire into new and best practice will transform many schools.  In time it will transform the system as a whole.  With new, stimulating & challenging experiences available throughout a teacher’s career the potential to not just recruit but critically also retain great people within the profession is enhanced.  These become rights balanced with responsibilities for teachers to just keep getting better and better, each and every day, one step at a time.

 Inching Towards Professional Capital?

Much of what I read resonated with Andy Hargreaves and Michal Fullan’s work captured in Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School .  If we are going to move our current good education system, reducing the variability in quality and outcomes, this needs to be part of a much greater narrative.

The damaging impact workload, inefficient and ineffective performance related pay arrangements and aggressive inspection and accountability processes need to be removed from the system.

Tis’ the Season of Goodwill

Photo Credit: Nick Webb via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Nick Webb via Flickr cc

I may just be suffering from end of term euphoria and a bit too much mulled wine but this final quote from the consultation document fills me full of joy and hope.  In keeping with the message of the season maybe greater peace and goodwill will be coming to a school near you soon.

Taken together, these proposals represent the next phase of a key strand of the Government’s plan for education: putting the teaching profession in England on a par with the best in the world.  None of the proposals set out here is about Government telling teachers what to do or how to do it; our role is to create the conditions for teachers to take the lead.  Our commitment is to listen carefully and take action in response to what they tell us.

DfE, A World Class Teaching Profession (December 2014)

References

Department for Education (December 2014) A World Class Teaching Profession

Hargreaves, A. & Fullan, M. (2012) Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School , New York: Teachers College Press

Other Related Posts:

This is the Decade of Professional Capital

Challenging Workloads and the Workload Challenge

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  1. Pingback: ORRsome blog posts from the week that was Week 49 | high heels and high notes - December 17, 2014

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