Archive for August, 2018


The “teacher led” College Of Teaching. Part 2

August 4, 2018

I’ve been writing recently about how promises that the Chartered College of Teaching would be teacher led have been broken. In my most recent blogpost I wrote about how the politicians who supported the creation of a College OF Teaching, and the coalition of CPD providers who set it up, repeatedly insisted that it would be “teacher led”.

It wasn’t just them. The phrase was widely used to describe the project.

As it became clear that non-teachers would be allowed to join in some capacity (which does not appear to have been in the original blueprint) the phrase “teacher led” began to be used to emphasise who would be in charge.

For example:

As a teacher-led movement for change, the Chartered College has a growing network of over 1,300 regional Advocates

From  the Chartered College website.

It aims to be a voluntary, teacher-led organisation which will support professional development, promote and share evidence-informed practice, and recognise excellence.

From a TES article announcing the opening of the Chartered College.

The College will promote teaching as a teacher-led, independent profession that envisions its own destiny.

From a TES article explaining why the College won’t be like the GTCE.

Another couple of phrases were also used to say the same thing. “run by teachers for teachers” was used to describe the College here, here and here. “led by teachers for teachers” was used here and here. Clearly the words “by teachers for teachers” couldn’t be abandoned, as when the election of the council to lead the College was announced on the Chartered College Of Teaching Website these were retained, but rather blatantly the phrase was now “driven by teachers for teachers”, which suggests that those organising the elections were well aware of what had been promised, and of the need to backtrack.

I had been opposed to allowing non-teachers to join the College, in case they did try to take over. Because of the debate over this issue, supporters of the College had made repeated claims that being led by teachers was non-negotiable. This has led to some remarkable changes of position by supporters of the College. Here’s some of the most remarkable.

From blogger “TeacherToolkit”

In 2016:

I do believe membership should be open to applicants who are teaching in classrooms only. Yes, when asked about role with the College of Teaching and asked about ‘what you do’, your first response should be; ‘I’m a teacher’ and not anything else.

A board of non-practising teachers just makes validity of any college contradictory [sic].  Of course, running such a large-scale institution, led by full-time classroom teachers makes it almost very difficult to manage , but it is not impossible.

In 2018 (here and here):

The notion that a @CharteredColl should only be made up of “teachers” is a sign of cognitive dissonance….

…I stand by what I said.

If teachers believe that “only teachers” can be part of @CharteredColl then a) that’s an insular view and b) it’s a sure sign of cognitive dissonance.

From blogger Tom Sherrington:

In 2015:

Any College of Teaching that ended up not being led by teachers for teachers would fail because few people would join; everyone involved knows this and, therefore, they will make sure that at every opportunity decisions are made to ensure this is what we get.

In 2018:

 Isn’t it in the name? Chartered College of Teaching? It’s not the Chartered College of Teachers.  To me, that’s a significant difference.  We already have unions – with vast memberships – giving teachers a voice as teachers and leaders a voice as leaders.   But the College is for teaching – it’s teaching as a profession that needs an independent, professional voice spanning across roles so that teaching has a collective voice in the political landscape.  This, to me, is more than word play.  There are plenty of people with a role in making teaching an effective evidence-informed confident profession – including people who run schools or groups of schools and whose main work is to train teachers rather than teach students.

But most incredible are those who have gone from a position of defending the College of Teaching on the basis that it would be teacher led, to standing for positions on the board, despite not being teachers. Two of the current candidates stand out in this regard. Professor Sam Twiselton had argued in 2015:

But I think to view the College of Teaching – a membership organisation by teachers, for teachers – as part of a “web of control” is wide of the mark. The independence of the organisation will need to be ensured through the open election of teachers to a body that is led and overseen by teaching professionals, not government officials.

Some may question whether the College will have any real power if it is not able to set policy or operate as a regulatory body – but we need to remember that there are other professions, mainly in medicine, where chartered status is an accepted standard.

As a teacher-led independent body, it’s actually more likely than not to be quite fiercely independent. There is often talk of trusting teachers, but little follow-through. The College presents a great opportunity to do that and do that well. I see no reason to doubt that this body cannot work in this way if the profession has an appetite to take it seriously – and there are early signs that it does.

But the person who stands out for having made the most repeated commitments to the idea that any College Of Teaching be teacher led, and who is now standing against teachers to be on the board, is David Weston.

Also worth listening to this debate here:

A lot of the response I’ve had to raising this, has been people arguing that non-teachers should be allowed to run the professional body for teachers or that “teacher” means “anyone who once qualified to teach” or “anyone whose job involves some teaching”. To even address those would be to reopen a debate that has already happened. It was settled that the College Of Teaching was teacher led. It was settled that teachers were “employed to teach children or young people 0-19 yrs”.

The issue is not that old debate, the issue is the broken promises. A professional body is meant to have ethical responsibilities and it is meant to help improve the standing of the profession. The current Chartered College Of Teaching is one big broken promise. It simply cannot be our professional body when ethically, it is dodgy as hell. And it cannot improve our standing when it has not treated the profession with respect.

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