A coalition of respected educational charities has put forward its proposals for a Royal College of Teaching in response to the government’s call for “expressions of interest”.
A Department for Education consultation into how it might support the creation of a College of Teaching while ensuring the body remained independent closed on Tuesday (February 3). The consultation invited “initial proposals from interested parties”.
The Claim Your College coalition, which comprises the Prince’s Teaching Institute, the Teacher Development Trust, the SSAT and the existing College of Teachers – a charity focused on awarding and accrediting qualifications – has made a submission.
The 26-page document proposes a College that is independent and voluntary and emphasises that the body must not “regulate, be compulsory or have a disciplinary role”.
It also sets out plans that would eventually see the College and not the government setting the Teachers’ Standards.
The proposal has been backed by a long list of organisations, including teaching and leadership unions, subject associations, universities and individual teachers and schools.
The coalition proposes a College that is “run by teachers” and governed in such a way that “no single interest group can dominate”.
If given the go-ahead, it would also plan to petition the Privy Council for a revised Royal Charter (the existing College of Teachers charity already holds Royal Charters, issued in 1849 and 1998).
The proposal states that the College would be funded by its membership, although it estimates that external support would be required for the start-up costs – to the tune of £11.9 million during the first five years.
However, it warns that if the government invested this funding, it would have to be on a “fire and forget” basis, with conditions that “did not unduly fetter the discretion of the trustees”.
The document states: “To implement this proposal, College of Teaching Ltd, a company limited by guarantee currently seeking charitable status, has been registered. This will be the vehicle for establishment of the new chartered College of Teaching as set out in this proposal.
“The company is currently negotiating support from a range of charitable and philanthropic sources and will launch a crowd-funding platform to recruit founding members.”
The government has already said that it would like to see a College “opening for business” in 2016 and has said it “must be led by teachers”.
The proposal from Claim Your College sets out a three-year “incubation period” beginning this autumn, with an estimated membership of 700 after year one, rising to 16,000 after year two.
The aim is for the College to become “fully operational” by September 2019 and the target is for 58,100 members after five years, at an average membership fee of £70 a year.
The proposal states that once membership reaches 50,000, roughly by the end of the fourth year, the plan would be to launch a “full chartered membership scheme” with the aim of seeing 20 per cent of teachers chartered after 10 years.
The document adds: “An incubation period of development and rigorous evaluation is important. We intend that during the incubation period there is significant engagement of teachers all over the country with the intention of raising expectations as well as building ownership of standards among teachers.”
Among the key roles of the College, the proposal identifies providing a “community of professional practice” and promoting “evidence-informed practice” as core functions.
This could include accreditation of CPD courses and providing alternatives or even substitutes for existing middle leader, senior leader and headship qualifications.
The document adds: “The new College will give the reassurance that advice accessed is evidence-informed and politically neutral, and that an increasing proportion of the relevant evidence is generated within or in partnership with the profession.
“The ultimate aim for the College is to present evidence so that practitioners can make professional judgements about the practice that is most likely to work for their pupils while accessing balanced analysis in a timely and relevant way.”
The proposal envisages that once the College is established, the body would take over control of the setting of the Teachers’ Standards from the government.
It adds: “It is envisaged that, over time, the College will establish itself as a prestigious and respected organisation with widespread membership. If this becomes the case, we can foresee a scenario where future governments would not deem it necessary to determine teacher standards; these would be defined by the College’s membership.”
David Weston, chief executive of the Teacher Development Trust, said: “We are at a crucial moment in the history of the teaching profession, ready to come together to do ever more for the young people in our classrooms.
“It is essential that teachers are at the heart of the College. It must be designed, driven and run by teachers and it will only be effective if it is relevant, high-status and provides true professional progression for teachers. By working together as a profession, through this College, we can help every teacher to be continually better at helping the next generation.”
For more information, visit www.claimyourcollege.org Photo: iStock