The beginning of 2015 saw the publication of a proposal for the start-up of the College of Teaching – a new, independent, chartered professional body.
Produced by the Claim Your College coalition, the proposal sets out a clear vision for the College – to take charge of our profession's destiny.
Achieving this includes bringing together the profession in order to act as a powerful force to continue the drive toward teaching excellence, setting aspirational professional standards, and challenging ourselves to be ever better for those that we serve.
The recruitment process for 13 founding trustees (who will come into post in early October) has been on-going since May 2015. These individuals will lead the future direction and development of the College and the names will be announced soon.
At this time, a fundraising campaign will be launched to provide the investment needed to support teachers to get involved in the establishment of the College.
Teachers will join working groups to design the membership offer, establish membership forums to debate the implications of evidence for practice, set up a mentoring network, design a CPD referral service, articulate a Code of Practice, and design a workable scheme for accreditation of Chartered Teacher status, including a professional development path that supports early career teachers and develops their skills.
The new Board of Trustees will be starting from a strong position. A recent Education Company survey among more than 13,000 teachers showed great appetite for a professional body, with more than 80 per cent seeking the specific benefits a College would offer and more than six in 10 being prepared to pay annual fees.
To get to this strong position, national consultation and regional engagement work has been taking place to raise awareness among teachers on a more local level and get their input on key questions.
These debates have tackled key considerations such as:
- What will the core activity of the College of Teaching be?
- Who will be members of the College of Teaching?
- What will membership of the College of Teaching mean for teachers?
- What should the relationship be between the College of Teaching and the government and other bodies, such as unions and subject associations?
- How will we take forwards the best of what is already in place, while learning the lessons from the history of our profession?
- How will teachers be at the heart of the College within their existing workloads and commitments?
Garry Ratcliffe, executive headteacher of the Galaxy Federation in Dartford – who has taken an active interest in the development of the College and attended a consultation event – told us: "As a school leader, I can see the massive importance in our profession 'owning' our College of Teaching. Seeing on-the-ground teachers with a vision of their own, understanding the key issues that will lead to a strengthening of our profession, has reassured me that there is a sustainable future in the development of the College of Teaching.
"Being profession-led will enable us to be strong and sustainable and we will only achieve a credible College through meaningful, honest and vibrant debate. Raising the profile of teaching as a profession comparable to others with their own accredited professional bodies is essential to our future."
As the College of Teaching has no geographical structure, it has welcomed pro-active teachers and leaders who have been busily mobilising local networks to prompt this consultative activity.
For example, over the last year Iain Hulland, executive headteacher at Alder Grange School in Lancashire, has worked to develop a regional model of engagement so that teachers can become more aware of what the opportunities are.
This "embassy" model spans across Lancashire encompassing more than 600 schools from EYFS, primary, secondary, special and sixth forms, as well as universities, SCITTs and School Direct partnerships, and local authority advisors and Teaching School Alliances.
With architects, surveyors, doctors and accountants among the many other professions that have their own body, now is the closest moment that teaching has ever seen to our status being recognised as equal, and for our entitlement to quality career progression and professional knowledge-sharing being made into a sustainable and non-political reality.
We hope you will join us on this journey to reclaim our own teaching profession and independently shape and bring to fruition the College of Teaching.
How to get involved
- Visit the official website to read the coalition's proposal (see further information for links).
- You can add your name to those showing their support at http://bit.ly/1IEu1cs. You can also subscribe to receive regular communications to keep updated with progress.
- Lead a staff meeting on the proposals – materials including presentations, handouts, animation files and a Pinterest page are available online.
- Create briefings for district-level groups of teachers and other interested groups and networks. Request that supporting schools facilitate these in their districts; the intention is for these meetings with school staff members to spark discussions and provoke the questions they need us to answer.
- FAQs can be found on the website and it is important that your local discussions are fed into the on-going consultation work (see further information for the email address).
- Fiona Aubrey-Smith is from the SSAT and authors this piece on behalf of the Claim Your College coalition.