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The Chartered College Of Not Actually Teaching

June 30, 2018

You may be aware that there is a government subsidised “Chartered College” that was set up to help develop teacher professionalism.

However, unlike some professions, the teaching profession’s biggest obstacle to being treated as professionals, has been working in a system that treats non-teachers and managers as the experts about teaching, and teachers as in need of being told what to do.

Right from the start, any new professional body for teachers was going to need to exclude non-teachers (particularly education lecturers and consultants) and, while including teachers in management positions, make sure senior managers, and particularly headteachers, could not dominate. It would also need to avoid ranking or classifying teachers. Otherwise it could not hope to represent teachers, only those who already had power over teachers, and most classroom teachers would see it as just another group of people claiming to speak for us but actually telling us what to do and judging us.

In the end, classroom teachers didn’t have a hope of being the dominant voice in the Chartered College. The education establishment was too powerful. The Chartered College of Teaching was set up by CPD providers, run by a former headteacher, and based on tiers of membership with non-teachers allowed to join, not just as “associates” but as “fellows” a category that gives them extra recognition for their expertise.

The one possibility that teachers might still be the main voice in the Chartered College was in the repeated promise that the organisation would be “teacher led”.

When it first looked like there would be government support, this was emphasised by the organisation itself:

When the government announced they would support the organisation the prime minister, David Cameron, said this:

…we will be working with the Claim Your College consortium in support of its proposal to establish a brand new, teacher-led College of Teaching.

However, a couple of years ago they appointed a non-teacher as vice chair (as I reported here). Now they have got round to holding elections for their council. Incredibly, fellows, those in the category of membership which allows non-teachers, are deliberately advantaged in the elections:

The Council will be made up of 4 elected officers who must be Fellows of the Chartered College of Teaching (President, 2 Vice Presidents and Treasurer), 8 other Fellows, and 10 Members of the Chartered College of Teaching.

There are fellows who are teachers (although judging by Twitter on the day when people were confirmed as fellows the teachers who are fellows are either a small minority or just much quieter than the non-teachers). But even those teachers who are fellows have been approved as fellows by the organisation, and I am not aware of one single fellow who has been willing to speak out against the direction of the college and in favour of a teacher led professional body for teachers.

We shall see if actual teachers among the fellows do unusually well in this elections, despite the system. If you are a member, please vote only for teachers. In theory there could be a fight back and the Chartered College may end up being “currently teacher led” if not committed to being teacher led. But as things stand this is not set up to be the “teacher led college of teaching” that was promised. The money given to this organisation has been done so on the basis of the lie that it would be teacher led. That cash should be returned and spent on developing the teaching profession, not on yet another education establishment quango.

Incidentally, while I was looking into this, I saw a tweet from a former teacher saying she had free membership of the Chartered College for being a PhD student. I looked into it, and this did seem to be true. If you quit teaching to do a full time qualification in education, you get free membership. A great plan if this was the Chartered College for Educationalists. An absolute disgrace if you remember this organisation was meant to encourage people to remain in the profession, not reward them for leaving.

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17 comments

  1. GBS was a bit unfair in saying that “Those who can’t do, teach”, and here you go implying that “Those who can’t teach become educationalists”,


    • I though it was more those that want control become educationalists.


      • Isn’t it the point though also that the purpose of a College of Teaching should be to give teachers more control..? Won’t that turn them effectively into educationalists…(certainly if they’re the only members)?


  2. Hello Andrew – just some musings/questions:

    Would you consider yourself to be an eligible candidate for the College you envisage…? I appreciate that you haven’t pursued management, nor have pursued making a (paying) career out of education beyond the classroom. But it could be argued that part-time teachers have a very different experience to full-time ones, and that you are an ‘educationalist’ par excellence in an ‘amateur’ sense, in the way that Patrick Moore was such an esteemed ‘amateur’ astronomer. Let’s be honest, your public pursuit of the ideological groundings of all things education is in no way typical of the perspective of your everyday full-time teacher.

    Secondly, as well as this blog post, I also received this morning a Chartered College update from Dame Alison Peacock, in which she stated that “Having spent my entire career in teaching, I wholeheartedly believe it is the best job in the world.” I recalled Tom Burkard’s comment in your previous blog suggesting that teachers are better served by getting some other life experience prior to entering the classroom, rather than just doing a BEd, and the Dame’s comment began to sound to me rather like someone who’s never left North Korea using this as their main credentials for declaring that North Korea is the best country in the world.

    I suppose what I’m saying is, is the length of time that someone’s spent in the classroom, and/or out of the education system, also something that should be considered? Is someone who’s had a career in other domains and is just now entering full-time teaching, more or less suitable for membership of a College of Teaching than a part-timer, or an ‘old-sweat’ who’s basically never left a classroom since being a toddler, or someone such as Dame Alison, who’s spent many years teaching, and then many years thinking about teaching from other perspectives within education…? I would suspect that the only coherent answer here would be that it’s exactly where they are right NOW that is all that matters, and I think that might be your answer, although, as my final point suggests, I’m not entirely convinced that it’s a line worth drawing.

    So, my final point is this: The Chartered College isn’t a Union – there to protect the rights of the everyday teacher. So what exactly WOULD be the purpose in a college exclusively populated by people whose only current professional concern is delivering teaching in the classroom? Let’s assume that we say that membership is only open to those people faced with the sole problem of delivering day-to-day classroom education. Presumably the scope of such an organisation must also remain restricted to this challenge of delivering day-to-day classroom education. Not educational philosophy, or scientifically valid research. Isn’t there something incredibly insular about this…? Most of the full-time teachers who I encounter who I suggest go-out and read some research tend to look at me in exasperation as if that’s what I’m meant to be doing on their behalf. Their job is to teach. In such a college, should everything be restricted to people’s personal experience of the classroom, because – as we know – teachers shouldn’t be being asked to do anything more than this….?

    In principle, is this any different to pupil-led schools…?


    • I agree that the Chartered College isn’t a union and I don’t think it was ever meant to be one, but Andrew is right that teachers who actually teach don’t have a voice. Our teaching unions are hopeless–like most British unions, they have more in common with the managerial class than with the poor bloody infantry. That’s why Maggie was able to curtail the privileges of the TUC, and the only real opposition to her trade union legislation came from the CBI, the Treasury and the patrician wing of her cabinet.

      In regard to research, I think the reaction you see is a result of a lot of crap CPD. I’ve recently been digesting a lot of research for the benefit of an HoD who’s using it for departmental INSET, and a lot of it –things like Kirschner, Sweller and Clark–is at odds with the whole-school INSET produced by the SLT. His staff love it–for a change, they’re learning something that makes their lives easier and more rewarding–something that makes sense to them. They’re now a part of the debate.

      I wouldn’t go so far as to categorically dispute everything in the EEF Toolkit, but a lot of their conclusions are ideologically driven. Sadly, policy makers are seldom aware of how little ‘expert’ opinion reflects teachers’ concerns.


  3. “Would you consider yourself to be an eligible candidate for the College you envisage…?”

    I am a teacher. I think teachers should be allowed to be candidates. But I’m not a member.

    “I suppose what I’m saying is, is the length of time that someone’s spent in the classroom, and/or out of the education system, also something that should be considered?”

    By voters, sure, but not by the rules. I think the rules should be about making sure the organisation is teacher led, as it was supposed to be. Anything else is up to the voters.

    “So, my final point is this: The Chartered College isn’t a Union – there to protect the rights of the everyday teacher. So what exactly WOULD be the purpose in a college exclusively populated by people whose only current professional concern is delivering teaching in the classroom?”

    I thought the purpose of the college was to establish teachers as independent professionals. I feel this aim is failed the moment you accept that we need non-teachers to do this for us. Also, you risk duplicating all the power structures that already exist. If I wanted to be trained by educationalists, I could do a postgraduate degree. If I wanted to be told what to do by managers, I could ask the managers I already have. How is the profession empowered by an organisation that is led by the people who already tell us what to do?


    • Thank you Andrew – I think your last statement is an important flip around: If the CCoT ultimately draws on the same Educationalist/Management expertise which are already cascaded-down upon teachers through multiple other channels, what is its actual relevance/difference…?

      I still think that we’re better working to improve what’s managed to get started, but I think your contrary voice on this is hugely useful.


  4. “In the end, classroom teachers didn’t have a hope of being the dominant voice in the Chartered College. The education establishment was too powerful. The Chartered College of Teaching was set up by CPD providers, run by a former headteacher ..”

    It strikes me that a former Headteacher would be ideal to run such: combining Teaching & Leadership ….. a positive, not the way it comes across to me.


    • If the starting point is that the best leaders of the profession are those who currently manage us, what’s the point?


  5. As a novice, seems that the concept of a professional entity to represent all teachers, is unrealistic. Other professions such as medical doctors, engineering disciplines (civil, mechanical, chemical) are much smaller and perhaps the sheer numbers of teachers makes effective representation difficult. Teachers should consider the professional engineering societies and create similar subject specific entities.


    • Subject associations already exist. But, to varying degrees, they have had a lot of the same problems as the Chartered College.


  6. While I share some of your concerns, I’d like to point out that, while I am not currently a serving teacher, I taught for 35 years, some of which was as a headteacher (primary – so I still taught some). I’m now a teacher trainer, which, while you may hate lecturers, is still teaching. In 1980 I sat a qualification to become an Associate of the College of Preceptors (ACP) and later, based on my experience and track record, became a Fellow (FCP). The College of Preceptors changed its title to the more up-to-date College of Teachers and I became an FCollT. This was not the Chartered College we have today but I enjoy what I believe is ‘historical membership’ and retain my FCollT. So please don’t infer that I have no right to speak – although I choose not to get actively involved as I do actually think that those who do should be serving practitioners. Do not either, please, completely discount the College It may not be ideal but, for most of my career, I aligned myself with the case for a professional body. I’m not sure that’s what we’ve got but at least it’s a beginning.


    • I’d be a lot happier with these excuses (and others) if they hadn’t come after the money started to flow on the basis of the College being teacher led.


  7. […] called “fellows”, which included non-teachers, was created. Then the majority of the positions on the ruling council were reserved for […]


  8. […] being fanned by @oldandrew, and you can read for yourself many of his recent thoughts about this here, here, here, here and […]


  9. Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.


  10. […] The Chartered College Of Not Actually Teaching […]



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