The Royal College of Teaching draws closer

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Plans to create a professional body for the teaching profession were gathering pace this week with the publication of a report on the proposal and public backing from education minister Michael Gove.

Moves to set up a Royal College of Teaching gathered pace this week with the publication of a report discussing the merits of the idea and backing for the plan from the secretary of state.

The booklet, Towards a Royal College of Teaching: Raising the status of the profession, was published on Tuesday (April 30) and examines the practicalities of creating a body that would be run by teachers and which would focus on promoting excellent practice in schools.

It comes after education secretary Michael Gove gave his backing to the idea during a speech at the National College for Teaching and Leadership. He said: “There is a growing consensus that teachers should emulate other professions and set up a new Royal College identifying, exemplifying and defining best practice in the teaching profession.”

The idea is that the organisation would be modelled on the royal medical colleges, such as the Royal College of Surgeons, and the booklet follows a recommendation from the Education Select Committee that the teaching profession should look at setting up such a body.

The document has been produced by a coalition of teachers, educationalists and professors, and includes a wide range of contributions from within education as well as other professionals who already have a Royal College representing their sector.

These include Professor Jonathan Shepherd of the Royal College of Surgeons, Jon Prichard of the Engineering Council, and David Weston, chief of the Teacher Development Trust.

Charlotte Leslie MP, a member of the Education Select Committee and one of the proponents of the idea, writes a foreword to the booklet. She said: “There is an outstanding momentum of consensus from an incredibly broad range of interests who all agree that the time has now come for the teaching profession to look to form its own professional body. 

“An organisation along the lines of a medical Royal College is an opportunity to give teaching the same status and recognition as other professions and to support the professionalism which is at the heart of every school.

“A Royal College could support the professional development of teachers so that Qualified Teacher Status is just the beginning of a professional journey; it could start to look at a practice-based career ladder for teachers who do not want to move into management.”

She added that the College could enable teaching to “reclaim possession of its profession, and keep politics and politicians out of the classroom”.

The Prince’s Teaching Institute (PTI) has also been involved in developing the idea and hosted a workshop for this purpose last year.

This week the PTI announced the creation of a Commission and Teacher Committee which will examine the practicalities of creating the body. It intends to publish a consultation document later this month to consider “the potential scope, functions and costs”, with further workshops planned for the autumn.

Chris Pope, chairman of the Commission and co-director of the PTI, said: “We have been busy reviewing possible operating models and potential structures for the governance of such an organisation. We are delighted by the broad agreement on the need for a College of Teaching that would be independent from, but work with, government and that would not involve itself in pay and conditions. 

“The common thread in all my conversations has been recognition of the need for the teaching profession to establish an independent body that will promote and uphold high professional standards in teaching.”

It comes after the Education Select Committee report Great Teachers stated: “We support the case for a new, member-driven College of Teaching, independent from but working with government, which could play important roles in the accreditation of CPD and teacher standards.”

In his speech, Mr Gove added: “The creation of a Royal College is not DfE policy – on the contrary, I’ve had nothing whatever to do with it, which is why it’s such a good idea. The great thing about this idea is that it’s about teachers taking responsibility for ensuring the profession is seen to be serious about standards. I wish those working on it every possible success.”

Meanwhile, Deborah Lawson, general secretary of union Voice, said lessons should be learnt from the axed General Teaching Council for England, which she claimed focused too much on regulation, rather than promoting the professional status of teachers.

Download the booklet at http://tdtrust.org/rcot/

CAPTION: College call: Prince Charles attends a Prince’s Teaching Institute teachers’ residential last year. The PTI is leading development work for a Royal College of Teaching


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