Education CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by the College of Teachers

Executive Summary

1. The College of Teachers considers that the attraction, training and retention of the best teachers is adversely affected by teaching not being perceived as a profession: a circumstance which, if not addressed, is likely to be exacerbated as a side effect of greater school autonomy. As a practical, convenient and low cost solution, the College of Teachers advocates the introduction of Chartered Teacher status as a recognition for teachers who have reached mature and fully effective professional standing, that would be unrelated to pay and conditions and not tied to any particular role or job description, although to achieve this status the teacher would need to demonstrate significant successful teaching experience, advanced knowledge of education and their subject, and ability to lead the professional learning and development of other teachers.

2. Chartered Teacher status would be a generic status at a consistent standard, embracing a range of specialisms and pathways to its achievement. The College of Teachers is the chartered professional college for teaching and has sought to promote the interests of education in the UK since 1846. It seeks to develop Chartered Teacher status as an overarching framework and standard to be used by schools, individual teachers and specialist organisations as a way to encourage pride in professional achievement. Our approach would allow all subject, phase and specialist associations and other representative bodies, irrespective of size or constitution, to tailor specialised pathways to Chartered Teacher status alongside a standard generic pathway, ensuring standards that will remain equally challenging and comparable across what is a very diverse profession.

Introduction to the College of Teachers

3. The College of Teachers was formed in 1846 and received its Royal Charter in 1849 (as the College of Preceptors). The College pioneered a great many educational innovations including teacher training, the first Professorship of Education, school examinations, and in 1902 jointly created the organisation which became the Institute of Education, University of London. The College received its Supplemental Charter in 1998, renaming it the College of Teachers. The College was the accrediting and registering body for the previous Government’s Chartered London Teacher scheme, and became the accrediting body for the GTCE’s Teacher Learning Academy at a late stage in the life of that initiative. Information about the College of Teachers is available at www.collegeofteachers.ac.uk

Developing a Professional Mindset

4. We see two fundamental problems adversely affecting the recruitment of the most able people into teaching careers, and their training and retention. The first is that the trends towards greater school autonomy, and towards the increasing burden of executive decision-making placed on the headteacher in person, need to be counter-balanced by the creation of a stronger sense of identity for teachers that they belong to a national profession. Secondly, in the language and thinking used to describe ways to improve the calibre of teachers, a better balance needs to be struck between managerial concepts and professional concepts. Some aspects of the leadership and management of schools place schools on convergent trajectories: regardless of school type, current thinking and expectations ensure that most schools have similar aims regarding, for example, how lessons are taught and how pupils are assessed and individually tracked. Other areas of school leadership and management lend themselves less readily to such convergence. The management style and organisational culture of the school; the scale, range and type of professional development which is supported; whether the school is inward or outward looking; whether staff are encouraged to be creative in their thinking; whether for teachers the school’s climate is enabling or punitive: all of these factors vary widely between schools, and depend too much on the strengths and capacities of school leadership teams. These factors are not amenable to national regulation even if that were desirable: they can only be taken forward by creating a stronger sense of teaching as a profession.

5. A “professional” view of teaching sees teachers as self-motivated professionals, whose job is to design lessons which will meet their pupils’ needs, using their experience and judgement. In this mindset, a supportive professional peer group is more important than “line management”; professional development is an integral part of being a teacher, and creativity and innovation are encouraged. In contrast, a “managerial” view of teaching is more inclined to see teachers as technical operatives, “delivering” lessons using materials and formats largely created for them by “experts”; and needing strong “performance management”. In this mindset, professional development (INSET/CPD) is mainly seen as training needed to correct faults and deficiencies identified by “management”, and school climates are not conducive to creativity and innovation by teachers.

6. There are strong reasons for viewing teaching as a professional activity. People (teachers) are the main resource; the work requires a high level of knowledge and expertise; the work is inter-personal; the direct beneficiaries are children; the work requires many judgements to be made instantly and intuitively; and the work cannot be supervised in detail all of the time.

7. In schools where teachers are treated as professionals, professional learning takes place in a wide range of ways, only some of which would be conventionally described as “training” or “courses”. Teachers undertake professional learning by listening to and observing experienced colleagues; by professional reading including through the internet; by individual reflective practice and action research; by working collaboratively in teams; and by receiving informed and constructive feedback. They learn also through job rotation, job enrichment or secondments; in-house meetings, briefings and training events; professional learning communities; school-based training events with external inputs; external training through distance learning, and by attending external courses.

8. Where there is good infrastructural support for professional learning, school leaders will reinforce the importance of professional development at every opportunity; they will support a developmental approach to performance management and a coaching culture; encourage action research; provide a staff reference library; and stimulate discussions about educational matters. Staff will be happy to observe each other’s work; new learning will be internally disseminated; the school will invest in professional development and ensure that senior leaders understand how to increase its impact.

9. Many headteachers strive to achieve these good practices because they believe it is right to do so, not just for the good of their school but for the good of the profession as a whole, and as a moral obligation to their staff. There are, however, few systemic incentives or rewards for adopting that approach. Other headteachers may judge that their circumstances call for a strongly managerial approach which sees teachers as operatives who can be easily and frequently replaced, and this approach may be seen as “successful” against the current register of measures of school performance. Teaching has become an uncertain, hazardous career, because so many of the elements of job satisfaction now depend to a greater extent than previously on school context and the widely differing management styles that tend to be associated with different stages of school improvement.

10. We believe that the most effective way to enhance the professionalism of teaching would be to enable teaching to become a chartered profession.

Chartered Teacher Status

11. College of Teachers advocates the introduction of Chartered Teacher status as a professional recognition that would be unrelated to pay and conditions and not tied to any particular role or job description, although to achieve this status the teacher would need to demonstrate significant successful teaching experience, advanced knowledge of education and their subject, and ability to lead the professional learning and development of other teachers. It would be entirely voluntary for teachers within the eligible group to seek Chartered Teacher status; we expect the early adopters would set a high standard which others would seek to emulate. The gradual spread of Chartered Teacher status throughout the large group of teachers eligible to achieve it would be evidence of increasing commitment among teachers to becoming professionalised.

12. Chartered Teacher status would be a generic status at a consistent standard, embracing a range of specialisms and pathways to its achievement. The College of Teachers is the chartered professional college for teaching and has sought to promote the interests of education in the UK since 1846. It seeks to develop Chartered Teacher status as an overarching framework and standard to be used by schools, individual teachers and specialist organisations as a way to encourage pride in professional achievement. Our approach would allow all subject, phase and specialist associations and other representative bodies, irrespective of size or constitution, to tailor specialised pathways to Chartered Teacher status, such as the popular Chartered Science Teacher designation which is already in place, alongside a standard generic pathway, ensuring standards that will remain equally challenging and comparable across what is a very diverse profession.

13. The College of Teachers supports the views expressed in paragraphs 147 and 148 of the Fourth Report of Session 2009–10 of the Children, Schools and Families Committee that there should be a generic Chartered Teacher status. We agree that this should be a single, overarching professional status. Under our proposals, the forms of chartered status available to some teachers through some of the subject associations would operate within the overarching framework which would ensure parity of standards and esteem. The overarching framework would allow other subject and phase associations to develop specialised routes if they wish to do so. In addition, there would be a direct route to Chartered Teacher status for the many teachers for whom subject and phase associations do not offer a relevant specialised option.

14. Our proposals take the previous Committee’s recommendations further towards chartered status in other professions. We do not support the linking of Chartered Teacher status to pay, nor, in any formal, managed sense, to career progression, beyond the career progression necessary to achieve Chartered Teacher status in the first place. Our reason for adopting this position is that we believe that the professional and reputational benefits of Chartered Teacher status will be greatest if this status is similar to chartered statuses in other professions. Chartered status conveys professional standing and accomplishment, commitment to continuing learning and updating, and engagement in the affairs of the profession through a self-governing professional body. While many holders of chartered status will do well in their careers and progress to senior positions, and while within chartered professions it is to be expected that almost all positions of significant responsibility will be held by individuals who have attained chartered status, holding an appointment at a particular level is not a defining attribute for continued retention of chartered status. Chartered professionals retain that status when they undertake pro bono, VSO or similar activity: chartered status is not a set of duties, or a job title, or a salary level.

Criteria for Attaining Chartered Teacher Status

15. We propose that attaining Chartered Teacher status should be conditional upon a teacher demonstrating that they meet a set of standard, overarching criteria. We wish to refine these in dialogue with relevant agencies but in the first instance we propose that to achieve Chartered Teacher status, teachers should demonstrate the following attributes:

Significant and successful teaching experience.

Knowledge both of subject and of subject-related pedagogy, the latter at Masters level.

Demonstrable ability to lead the work and professional development of other teachers.

Demonstrable commitment to own continuing professional development.

Demonstrable engagement in the affairs of the profession beyond the school in which they work, for example through active membership of a subject or phase association, or a role such as examining or inspecting, or work with a cluster of schools, or contributions to wider professional development or publications.

16. “Demonstrating” that these attributes have been met would include appropriate third party endorsements, especially in relation to the first criterion.

Procedure for Introducing Chartered Teacher Status

17. As the College of Teachers is the chartered professional college for teaching, the most practical procedure for introducing Chartered Teacher status would be for the College to petition the Privy Council for permission to add the necessary new wording to the official Bylaws of the College. The College has no pretension to exert undue influence over such a major matter as introducing a generic chartered status to the teaching profession. Our position is that the College’s charter and constitution make it the easiest and most appropriate delivery vehicle for implementing whatever national consensus might emerge on this matter. As the delivery vehicle for Chartered Teacher status, the College of Teachers would need only a minor addition to its Bylaws. To add these words to its Bylaws, the College would need to demonstrate to the Privy Council an acceptable level of support, which would include a letter of support from the Secretary of State.

Implementing Chartered Teacher Status

18. The implementation of Chartered Teacher status need not be expensive or overly complicated. Given the support of Government, the College of Teachers would as part of its charitable purpose bear the cost of petitioning the Privy Council; for reaching agreement with relevant agencies including subject and phase associations on the practical arrangements and schedules for implementation; and for designing website communications and the necessary secure electronic database, based on its experience of designing similar arrangements for servicing the 38,000 participants in the previous Government’s Chartered London Teacher scheme.

19. The costs of awarding Chartered Teacher status comprise elements for assessment of the evidence submitted, and for maintaining the register. We estimate that the per capita costs would be in the region of £70 to £80 for initial assessment and £25 per year for registration and related administration. The registration fee would be paid by the individuals, and claimed by them as an income tax deductible expense. We would expect the individuals to pay the assessment fee also, as an investment in their own professionalism; some employers might choose to reimburse the cost.

Recommendations for Action

20. We urge the Committee to recommend that the Department for Education supports the introduction of a generic Chartered Teacher status.

November 2011

Prepared 30th April 2012