The College of Teaching is at an early phase of development; finding a unique role and attracting enough members who are committed to the College may take time, possibly even a decade. Let’s hope it lasts that long.
SLTchat on Sunday evening, brilliantly led by Lisa Pettifer, was focussed on the College of Teaching. Whilst the first question was about how teachers might shape the College of Teaching a bigger question for me was, “Whether the College of Teaching will be able to shape National Education Policy?” If not it’s likely to find itself on the periphery instead of at the heart of the Education System.
Membership is a thorny issue; in a brief twitter exchange an old tweeter maintained his consistent line that the College was only for teachers so there would be no place for me; despite being employed on Teachers Pay & Conditions the door was closed. Ironically I was approached about applying to be a trustee of the College but a combination of not the right time at a personal and professional level, a frightening application form and a genuine concern about the College’s limited impact over the next five years led me to travel other paths.
The debate about the inclusiveness or exclusivity of the College of Teaching for class room teachers (definition to be agreed) versus Head Teachers/Senior Leaders or other interested parties will go to the heart of the College’s purpose and potential impact. I see it as a wide church; inclusive and engaging with those who have a stake and interest in teaching, this is by no means agreed.
Carving a niche for itself in the current confused and over bloated educational landscape will by no means be easy. Vested interests and current providers are not likely to give up their position without a fight. The government don’t seem that keen on giving the College a leg up, for example, the High Potential Initial Teacher Training Programme (think the current Teach First programme) tendering programme advertised in November 2015 would have been a great opportunity to boost the role and status of the College. It would have ensured that between four to five thousand teachers were well aware of the College’s existence as they would have trained on its programmes. It’s not just a vision thing, the College needs an actual purpose.
Will the College of Teaching suffer from an apathetic response from the profession it desperately needs to support it to have any authenticity? A positive rejection by some allied with an unwitting ignorance of its existence and purpose, from the majority of teachers is a lethal mix. It seems that the College of Teaching is not top of people’s priority list and this will have to change if it is to establish itself; a game changer is needed.
#SaturdayThunk is based on something I’ve been thinking about, discussing, working on or has been topical that week. The thunk is designed to be bite sized and will deliberately be kept short. It will take one small issue or an aspect of something much bigger. The intention is for it to be read in two minutes as you’re relaxing or busy running around on you day off.
Thanks Stephen. That chat was good – caught the very end of it myself. “Whether the College of Teaching will be able to shape National Education Policy?” – I’m not sure this is as hard as people make it out to be. In November I was involved in a Summit called ‘Politics in Education’ which was 1 year in the making created by a summit organiser (experienced in creating events that impact Health Policy) who became interested in education when her son started school last year. The event transcripts/summaries sparked the current Education Select Committee’s enquiry into the ‘Purpose and Quality of Education’. Of course, they’re not openly crediting it as that would help too many people believe they can have an impact, but that’s fine. As long as we know what’s possible. The CoT will fail until it works, like everything. Angela McFarlane’s presentation at the Politics in Education summit was full of information and very clear. The summary of her presentation is available here: http://leahkstewart.com/politicsineducation/
Hi Stephen – shared concerns and a couple of dilemmas too which I believe are also shared by many (and are becoming characteristic of the debate) such as the definition of “teacher”. My own view, for what it is worth is that a teacher is just that – a person holding a teaching qualification irrespective of position or sector.
Notwithstanding these concerns however, there are clear potential gains if the college gains momentum. Firstly, that there is no equivalent to the medical Royal Colleges to act as the “custodian of our professional standards” (as put by the CoT). To have the opportunity to define what we mean by standards and then articulate those surely opens up terrific potential for this organisation to have real resonance and kudos. Secondly, that we lack a “credible, independent voice to represent the profession” (CoT again) is not wholly correct but a cohesive single voice would do much to ensure politicians and the media think before acting? (I don’t hold out too much hope in that one though!).
I see the college as more of an opportunity to create the potential for the profession to add eloquence and purpose to our collective vision for young people and that’s an opportunity not to be missed.
Thanks for adding your thoughts
Thanks for this post; #SLTchat is great but 140 characters doesn’t allow points of view to be developed. I agree that in a world with Unions, SSAT, Academy groups, etc, what place is there for the College and how will it fit in. I do think however that it is extraordinary how little teachers are represented at a National level. This isn’t the case elsewhere, e.g. Medicine. In education there are a range of ‘experts’ and ‘commentators’ who are not teachers but seem to have a louder voice. I think the ‘teachers only’ view may be a response to this.
In the #SLTchat I said that I thought a key role for the College would be coordinated CPD. I think this could link academic educational research & teaching. This would directly benefit all teachers, including SLT. It would develop a strong, expert and confident profession with a voice that could not be ignored. Only if we try, of course.
You might find this recent post in the RSA interesting: https://www.thersa.org/discover/publications-and-articles/rsa-blogs/2016/01/please-ignore-this-blog/
I know they haven’t finalised the details of who can join yet, but to me the idea that school is the only place where teachers work is very off putting. If people working in the early years sector and the post compulsory/HE sector can’t get involved that would be a real shame and would make me feel like it is a closed shop. Also, the fact that teaching is such a mobile profession, with people moving in, staying a short while, and moving out again, could be a factor in how successful it can be compared to say the colleges of medicine.
Thanks for adding the comment, Sue. Totally agree with you.