After overcoming a few stumbling blocks, I’ve finally joined the Chartered College of Teaching. I say finally not because of the few days’ delay (my bank apparently thought my signing up might have been a fraudulent use of my card. Do they know me at all!?), but because it strikes me that this is something that’s long overdue.
I’ve always been a member of a teaching union – aren’t we all? – but like so many teachers, that was in part for the protection offered. Unions are there to protect and improve pay and conditions; while they may dress their arguments up in pedagogical terms, the bottom line is the same. And that’s all well and good: that’s their job.
But that conflict also makes it very easy for the government to dismiss what teachers say through their unions – not least the more militant groups with their outlandish demands at conferences. The profession more than ever needs a clear conduit for its opinions and expertise.
But a professional body has to cut both ways. As well as conveying views from the profession to the wider world – from parents to the DfE and Ofsted – it must also offer something to members. I’m pleased to see that the College will provide members with access to educational research, but perhaps more importantly I look forward to a useful professional journal that will help do the job of disseminating that research in ways that can have an impact in classrooms. We’re a time-poor profession as it is, and few of us have time to wade through academic journals on a regular basis; an intelligent chartered college can be the medium through which teachers receive the very best of information on good practice – and also the very clearest of evidence to dispel the nonsense of the likes of Brain Gym and Learning Styles.
The key thing at this stage is to get people participating. If the college appears not to be the finished article, I’m hoping it’s because it isn’t. I hope, too, that that means teacher members will shape it.
So let me offer a few requests for Dame Alison Peacock and her team as she leads the College in its formative stages:
- We need you to be brave, Dame Alison, on our behalf. Sometimes that will mean speaking truth to power; asking the difficult questions; putting politicians straight – saying the things we’re all thinking!
- Focus on the classroom teachers more than the leaders. One of the toughest parts of the job is the solitude of the classroom. The College can be a way for teachers to get a sense of what is happening in other classrooms.
- Remember the people that so many other organisations forget: the Early Years experts, the SEN schools, the sixth-form colleges, supply teachers, middle schools!
- Put research and evidence at the heart of work to guide us and others, and be honest when the research doesn’t tell us enough to know.
- Reach out across the profession, whatever teachers’ experience, across sectors, through the age ranges, the breadth of the country and those who aren’t yet convinced about the College: we’re stronger together.
- (If truth be told, I’m not taken by the logo, but… maybe it’ll grow on me?)
If you think I’m right – or you think I’m wrong – perhaps you should put your own views across. Join the College at the start.
The Chartered College is currently signing up founder members, who must be teachers in schools, Early Years or post-16 settings: https://www.chartered.college/eligibility