The Royal College of Teaching moves a step closer to reality, but faces some key questions

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Photo: iStock

The founding trustees are appointed, a Royal Charter is donated, and a £250,000 crowd-funding bid is launched – but both the NUT and NASUWT have raised questions, warning that the new College of Teaching will have to ‘earn the respect’ of the profession. Pete Henshaw reports

A Royal College of Teaching is much closer to reality this week after the appointment of 14 “founding trustees” to help oversee its establishment.

This number includes three school leaders and five teachers and the announcement comes alongside news that the College of Teaching has been invited to take over the Royal Charter from the existing College of Teachers charity, which was set up 164 years ago and today runs courses for teachers.

The process of Charter revision has begun and will be completed in 2016.

However, the unveiling of the trustees has not gone completely smoothly, with the National Union of Teachers (NUT) this week warning the College that it will have to “earn the respect” of the profession.

The appointments process has been managed by Claim Your College, the coalition of education organisations, teachers and school leaders that is driving the development of the new body.

The coalition has also launched a crowd-funding campaign in a bid to raise £250,000 over the next five months to help fund the establishment of the College. So far, more than £11,000 has been pledged. The pledges will match-fund contributions already secured from other charitable and philanthropic donations.

The College of Teaching’s stated aims are to “advance high standards, recognise excellence and promote evidence-based practice and policy in teaching”.

The coalition says that it will not have a regulatory role, will be independent of government, and that membership will be entirely voluntary.

The founding trustees are to meet for the first time this Saturday (October 3) in London. The 14 are listed below. These trustees will play a leadership and governance role in the creation of the College and will be responsible for “deciding strategy and engaging teachers and the wider profession, observing best practice in the running of a charity, and working towards future membership of the College”.

Carl Ward, chair of the selection panel and chief executive of the City Learning Trust, said the recruitment process was “rigorous and independent”.

He added: “We received hundreds of applications and the selection committee had a difficult job to identify the best team of complementary expertise from a large and very strong field.

“The founding trustees embody excellence from primary, secondary and SEN across the country with additional expertise from non-teaching professionals who have much to offer the College as it takes its next steps to fully establish its role, remit and membership offer.”

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, this week wished the trustees “every success”.

He said: “This is a golden opportunity to establish a body which promotes the highest standards of professional development and raises the status of the teaching profession. The founding trustees have a challenging task ahead of them in leading the future direction of this fledgling organisation and fully establishing its role and remit. We will be doing all we can to support them in their important work.”

However, Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the NUT, said he was disappointed with the make-up of the Board of Trustees. He said: “We believe that there is a real need for a body to promote quality professional development, but it must earn the support and respect of teachers. While teachers will recognise the expertise of those appointed to the Board of Trustees, they will be disappointed by the narrowness of its composition.

“We note that the new Board is charged with drawing up the constitution and remit of the College of Teaching. Unless discussion on these questions is inclusive, and is able to establish the College on a broad and representative basis, responsive primarily to the needs of teachers, it is difficult to see how the College will be successful.”

The concern comes after the NASUWT teaching union published a briefing in May outlining 10 concerns about the College, including the potential cost of membership, its political neutrality and its independence from commercial influence.

Further information

The founding trustees

  • Claire Dockar, lead practitioner, Lipson Co-operative Academy, Plymouth.
  • Simon Dowling, head of English, Colchester Royal Grammar School.
  • Paul Dwyer, director of sixth form/history teacher, Putney High School, London.
  • Victoria McDowell, teacher, Bridekirk Dovenby School, Cumbria.
  • Malcolm Wilson, third-year teacher, London.
  • Dr Penny Barratt, executive headteacher, The Bridge London.
  • Joan Deslandes, headteacher, Kingsford Community School, London.
  • Dame Kate Dethridge, headteacher, Churchend Academy, Reading.
  • Paul Barber, director, Catholic Education Service.
  • Professor Sonia Blandford, CEO, Achievement for All.
  • Andrew de Csilléry, business leader/management consultant, Csillery Consulting.
  • Jonathan Shepherd, professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery at Cardiff University (he also directs the Violence and Society Research Group).
  • Kevin Kibble, CEO, The Nurture Group Network.
  • The 14th trustee will be Professor Angela McFarlane, a former teacher and registrar and chief executive of the existing College of Teachers charity, who will join the board for one year to oversee the transfer of the Royal Charter.


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