I want to explore two issues in this post. Firstly, who and what is the Chartered College of Teaching for? I am reading a lot of commentary on twitter focusing on its role in giving teachers a voice. This then fuels the second issue – who should be on the Council leading the College? It’s a hotly debated topic.
I’m a bit confused about this debate, to be honest. Isn’t it in the name? Chartered College of Teaching? It’s not the Chartered College of Teachers. To me, that’s a significant difference. We already have unions – with vast memberships – giving teachers a voice as teachers and leaders a voice as leaders. But the College is for teaching – it’s teaching as a profession that needs an independent, professional voice spanning across roles so that teaching has a collective voice in the political landscape. This, to me, is more than word play. There are plenty of people with a role in making teaching an effective evidence-informed confident profession – including people who run schools or groups of schools and whose main work is to train teachers rather than teach students.
This is written into the objects:
3. The Objects for which the College is hereby constituted are the promotion of sound learning and the improvement and recognition of the art, science and practice of teaching for the public benefit (where teaching may include but shall not be limited to instruction, research, and assessment).
(I do like that ‘art, science and practice’ line! Also ‘improvement and recognition’.)
It’s also in the vision/mission statement:
• Be the connection to the wider profession
• Be the voice of the profession
• Be the conduit to a more evidence-informed profession
• Provide access to professional knowledge and intellectual challenge
• Focus on teaching and learning
• Offer accreditation and pathways
If you ask me, ‘the voice of the profession’ should mean – the voice of everyone involved in ‘making teaching an effective, informed way to provide the best possible education’. This is largely teachers but it’s not only teachers. It’s like the distinction between ‘the medical profession’ and ‘being a doctor’. Lots of people serve the medical profession, ex-doctors and others, who are no longer employed directly as doctors. If you ask me if I’m a teacher, I’d say no, not any more. If you ask me what profession I’m in, I’d say ‘teaching’. That’s how it feels to me…
I’ve worked in lots of schools, from 1987 to 2017, trained 1000s of teachers, work with schools and colleges every week on improving teaching… and still occasionally actually teach in a school. My profession is “the teaching profession” – and, like it or not, I feel that The Chartered College of Teaching is an organisation I’m as entitled to join as someone working in a school – certainly anyone with less than, say, five years’ experience. It would take a lot of teachers many years to match the scale of classroom hours I’ve notched up… and, it feels odd to have a definition of membership that is confined to status in the moment… given how rapidly people’s fortunes and lives can change over the course of a sustained career. The voice of experience in promoting evidence-informed practice is going to be important.
If the CCT is to connect, inform and inspire, it needs the capacity, the human resources, the knowledge and experience required. The role of the Council in steering all of this will be important. Voting is underway. All the information is here: https://nom.ukevote.uk/cct There’s also a useful exploration of the issue of membership eligibility my Michael Tidd . Alongside some commentary, Michael provides a list of all the candidates showing what their current jobs are.
The question being debated is whether non-teachers should be involved as candidates and, if so, whether there is a balance-point beyond which the CCT would not have enough frontline teachers running it. I can assure you that I have no intention of ever standing for election and, as a Professional Affiliate Member, I can’t vote ( as far as I understand it.) However I do have some thoughts to share:
- I agree there should be a minimum number of serving teachers elected to the council – the composition should be constructed so that it is not possible to choose more than a maximum proportion of non-serving teachers to the council; a proportion less than half. I make no distinction between teachers and middle-leaders. For members of SLT, I think that, again there should be limits on the proportions- along the lines: of the council members who are front-line teachers, no more than half should be on SLT. In the absence of these fixed rules, it is up to the electorate to vote such that the numbers are balanced in the right direction.
- There are lots of very good reasons to have people on the council who are in the teaching profession but who are no longer full-on serving teachers – as I’ve explored above. Some of the candidates I’ve looked at would be a major asset; it would be mad not to vote them in. However, there are others who seem to be a bit light on the frontline experience they bring… and that is something I’d urge voters to consider. CCT isn’t going to be best served by people who whizzed through teaching and out the other side in a flash.
- Financial probity is vital. Consultants and others who may at any time receive financial reward from work directly or indirectly through their official position with CCT, should take the issue of conflict of interest very seriously and should not use their status in any promotional material.
As things stand, the make-up of the council is very much in the hands of voters so I hope that the balance I’d be after emerges naturally. If it doesn’t… it would be important for the new council to do the right thing and amend the rules. Presumably if members are concerned about it, then subsequent elections will give them a chance to vote accordingly.
Mark Enser – who wrote this in sync by coincidence;https://teachreal.wordpress.com/2018/07/16/once-a-teacher/
Andrew Old – (for the counter view) https://teachingbattleground.wordpress.com/2018/07/13/i-was-wrong-about-the-chartered-college-of-teaching-its-worse-than-i-thought-it-would-be/