Catching Up With The College Of TeachingMay 13, 2016
As you may recall, plans for a new professional body for teachers have been hijacked by a group of vested interests who, with the promise of taxpayers’ money, have begun setting up their own body which seems to have a lot of interest in those who already have power in education, and very little interest in those working in classrooms,
It’s been a while since I last commented on them, and some new developments have taken place, so I guess it’s time for another post.
Firstly, you may recall that I pointed out that the “teachers” among the trustees of the College consisted of 3 heads, 3 middle or senior managers, and a grand total of 2 unpromoted teachers. At the time, one of the managers complained that although he was head of English, he did teach almost a full time table:
This did not deal with the complaint that the trustees were already people with a position of power over teachers, it did suggest he might be on the side of building an organisation that was of use to classroom teachers, rather than their bosses. Unfortunately, it says here:
Victoria Walker, Teacher and Head of English at Addey and Stanhope School in London, is joining the Board of Trustees. Victoria has been a teacher for the past 10 years and is a Teacher Leader at the Prince’s Teaching Institute and a member of University College Oxford’s Student Support and Access Committee.
Victoria replaces Simon Dowling, Head of English at Colchester Royal Grammar School, who has made the difficult decision to step down due to increases in his teaching commitments for the remainder of the academic year.
So much for that then.
Secondly, two of the teachers were appointed chair and vice-chair of the College of Teaching and this is announced on the Claim Your College website:
College of Teaching outlines key governance appointments
4th December – Teacher led and teacher driven – College of Teaching outlines key governance appointments
As Founding Trustees prepare to gather in London tomorrow (Saturday 5th December), the meeting marks a number of developments in the governance of the College of Teaching.
Classroom teachers are leading and driving the College forward with the appointment of Claire Dockar and Victoria McDowell as Chair and Vice Chair (respectively).
Incredibly, no such prominence was given to the appointment of the third vice chair. I happened to notice the following section on a 4 year timeline of the College’s development:
In case you missed that: “Sonia Blandford, Founding Trustee, joins Vicky McDowell as Vice Chair of the College”. Why was this not announced with a headline? The most likely reason is because unlike the chair and vice chair, Sonia Blandford is one of the non-teaching trustees. If you recall, the College Of Teaching was at this point meant to have been consulting with teachers about whether non-teachers could, as originally agreed, be members. Yet, somehow, they decided to go ahead and appoint a non-teacher to a leadership position while the consultation was still happening. And they did it discreetly, while trumpeting the appointment of teachers. And, as if it couldn’t get worse, when I pointed out what they’d done, they changed the website to say:
Sonia Blandford, Founding Trustee, joins Vicky McDowell as a Vice Chair of the board to the College of Teaching.
The distinction between leading the trustee board and leading the College had not been made previously. And generally hasn’t been made elsewhere, particularly when they were appointing teachers to similar positions. At the very least, they are aware enough of what they are doing to try to conceal it.
Thirdly, and this one still staggers me, there was a regional conference. It happened last week, details here. Now remember, this is an organisation that is meant to be for teachers, and would presumably deny that they have continually prioritised the involvement of non-teachers such as educationalists, and managers over ordinary classroom teachers. This is the sort of event they decided to hold:
- An event at 2pm on a school day.
- An event in a university education department.
- An event held during the Key Stage 1 testing period, a few days before Key Stage 2 tests, and in the month where Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5 exams start.
- An event advertised for ” teachers, headteachers, Teaching Schools and Academy Trust representatives and system leaders” [my emphasis].
And it’s not as if they haven’t been criticised enough times previously for events on school days. I count myself among those who first gave up on the College Of Teaching when its launch was announced at an event on a school day.
And one last thing, just in case you thought this organisation is just a way of conning the government out of money that could be spent supporting teachers, but which won’t actually have any power over teachers, Schools Week reported today just what powers the educationalists, SMT and CPD providers behind this are seeking to gain:
The proposed College of Teaching wants to be the “gatekeeper of standards for teacher training”, Angela McFarlane, a founding trustee of the fledgling organisation, has told professionals.
Speaking at a Westminster Education Forum event on Tuesday about the future of teaching, McFarlane said she hoped the organisation would be in a position to take over the regulation of teacher training providers from the government.
Responding to a question from a member of the audience on what the college could take responsibility for from the Department for Education, McFarlane said: “My personal view is that I would love to see the profession in a place where the criteria for entry is actually set by a professional body run by experts in that profession.”
I can’t have been the only one to wonder whether “experts in the profession” means “experts who are part of the profession” or “experts in telling the profession what to do”.