Annual fee could be obstacle for College of Teaching proposals

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The price of membership could prove to be a major stumbling block for the proposed College of Teaching, research has suggested.

A poll has found that just four in 10 teachers currently support plans for an independent College of Teaching to be created.

Furthermore, a quarter of those supporting the idea would not be prepared to pay a membership or registration fee, with most others saying they would pay no more than £30 a year.

The findings, which come from a survey of 1,163 teachers published by the Sutton Trust, are at odds with the current proposals, which suggest membership fees of between £70 and £130 a year.

The idea for a College of Teaching has been gaining momentum over the past 18 months and earlier this year a commission of teachers and teaching leaders, chaired by the Prince’s Teaching Institute (PTI), published a blueprint of what the body might look like.

The proposal is for a College that would operate independently of government and the political cycle and work to raise the standing of the profession, to ensure that evidence is at the heart of teaching practice, and to promote effective CPD.

However, the poll found that while 41 per cent of the teachers supported the idea, another 41 per cent were undecided, while 17 per cent were opposed.

Support for the proposal is stronger among secondary teachers, with 45 per cent being in favour compared to 37 per cent of primary teachers.

However, it seems that membership fees could prove to be the stumbling block. Of those teachers supporting the idea, 26 per cent said they would not pay any fees, 47 per cent would only pay up to £30 a year, and 15 per cent would pay up to £60. Only three per cent said they would pay more than that.

Writing in SecEd in February, Chris Pope, chair of the commission, said: “We have investigated various funding mechanisms and concluded that the College be funded by members’ annual subscriptions. These would be in the order of £70 to £130 per annum, with an additional fee of £170 to £190 for those seeking certification as Members or Fellows.”

The old General Teaching Council for England (GTCE) charged £36.50 a year, although employers paid most of the fee. The teaching unions charge full members between £166 and £180 a year.

However, the Sutton Trust findings clash with research carried out by the PTI last year which found more than 60 per cent of teachers and headteachers would be prepared to pay between £75 and £175 for annual membership.

Responding to this week’s report, Mr Pope said: “Anecdotal evidence, consistent with these poll results, suggests that there is still low awareness in the teaching profession of the proposed College of Teaching blueprint that was published in February.

“Unlike the GTCE, which was compulsory and resented by many teachers, the blueprint outlines a membership organisation that would be voluntary. 

“In the PTI’s earlier research, we found that when this and the benefits are explained, the number of teachers who opposed the idea dropped from 17 to seven per cent and the number who would pay £75 to £175 rose from under one per cent to over 60 per cent.

“This highlights the importance of this organisation needing to grow from within the profession and not be seen as a compulsory imposition.”

Dr Lee Elliot Major, director of development and policy at the Sutton Trust, said: “These results highlight the challenge that the proposed College of Teaching faces in convincing the majority of teachers to support a national body championing their professional development.”

He continued: “Improving and supporting effective teachers in the classroom remains the key to improving the outcome of pupils, particularly those from poorer backgrounds.”

For details, read Mr Pope’s recent SecEd article at http://bit.ly/1kSjsqS or visit www.princes-ti.org.uk/collegeofteaching

 


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