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Elizabeth Holmes

The College of Teaching – what’s it all about?

‘The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change.’ Bill Clinton

If you’re not a regular on Twitter some of the wrangling over plans for a College of Teaching for the profession may have passed you by. But now a proposal has been published by the Claim Your College coalition including the Teacher Development Trust, and plans are starting to take shape after two years of consultation and debate. Here, I take a look at some of the burning questions around the proposals.

What are the proposals?

The profession’s new College of Teaching: A proposal for start-up details plans for a new chartered College of Teaching that is voluntary, member-driven and independent with the aim of championing the status of teaching by sharing knowledge and supporting professional development. While the College has cross-party support, it is not a political initiative and its Charter will provide full independence from the government. The College won’t be a replacement for the unions; it won’t be representing teachers on pay and conditions.

Who is behind the initiative?

The Claim Your College partnership, initiated by the College of Teachers, Prince’s Teaching Institute, the Teacher Development Trust and SSAT provided the forum of debate around the setting up of a member-driven College of Teaching.

How much will it cost?

Initial start-up funding is being sought from a range of sources including government and charitable trusts although the independence of the College is paramount. It is estimated that the average membership fee will be £70 per annum.

Will the College be open to all teachers?

There is currently some debate about whether it will be a College of School Teaching or a College of Teaching (including teachers working in FE, HE and outside educational establishments, such as those working in hospitals and running classes for schoolchildren for charities etc). Opinion is divided on whether all teachers should be included. At present the plan is for those working in early years, primary and secondary, and school sixth forms to be classified as ‘teachers’ while those teaching in FE and HE won’t be, but this isn’t set in stone. The College is not yet open for membership.

Will membership be compulsory?

Membership won’t be compulsory.

What’s in it for teachers?

It is hoped that teachers will gain professional recognition and status through the College as well as tools for demonstrating professional development. Up-to-date research evidence and access to professional knowledge among others will also be a draw for teachers. As the College will be led by teachers for teachers it is hoped that the benefits will be many. The College will offer professional pathways the equivalent of ‘chartered’ or ‘fellow’ status demanding ongoing professional development.

What will be the main activity of the College?

The College will focus on all aspects of the profession of teaching, in particular the creation of teaching standards in five key areas: subject content; pedagogical knowledge; professional skills; contribution to the profession; and leadership. It will also be involved in sharing good practice, in seeking to improve the education of children and young people. In addition it will disseminate evidence to help teachers to make sound professional decisions. Professional development will also be a focus. The College will not have any regulatory responsibilities and neither will it have a disciplinary role. As a non-commercial organisation all surpluses will be reinvested in CPD.

Can I get involved?

Yes! It’s not too late. Those in the Claim Your College coalition are very keen that the teachers are at the heart of the College of Teaching. Visit Claim your College for information on how you can get involved via events and social media. Do take a look – it’s vitally important that all voices are heard in the development of the College. If you want to, you can add your name to the supporter's list. The proposals for a College of Teaching are a very positive opportunity for the profession to create an organisation with the capacity to support, promote and enhance teaching; whether that ends up being inclusive of all teachers in all ages and stages, as I would favour, or limited to just teachers in early years, primary and secondary. For this reason, I’d urge everyone to read the proposals and get involved as much as possible. Now is the time to shape its course for the benefit of the profession.

 

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