The first argument is by David Weston. Click here to see the seperate argument by James Abela.
We are more motivated in work when we have professional autonomy and recognition. And yet, in too many schools, the only way teachers are recognised is by taking on more managerial responsibility. Not only that, the majority of our professional life is spent in isolation: planning lessons alone, teaching lessons away from other adults, and marking books by ourselves. For some teachers, the only time another professional enters the classroom with them is to judge them against a series of narrow accountability criteria.
When I visit schools I often find that there is a great level of frustration, particularly among classroom teachers and middle leaders, about the lack of opportunities for growth, development and challenge. Many staff feel that where such opportunities do exist, they are unevenly spread and they often feel stuck, not knowing where to go next.
An idea that has been mooted since 2012, the creation of a professional College of Teaching for (teachers in England), is an exciting opportunity to do something about this, as well as raising the status of the profession more generally.
In consultations so far, the consensus that has emerged is for a voluntary body with no compulsion to join (unlike the old GTC in England) to exist that will focus on professional and career development as well as establishing a repository of professional knowledge for the most effective approaches in the classroom.
Popular ideas include giving teachers access to career accreditations (e.g. Chartered status) and an entitlement to support from peers, a flexible and life-long portfolio of professional learning and access to research and knowledge through a database and regular online publications.
The idea is being spearheaded by the Claim Your College (ClaimYourCollege.org) coalition of teachers and organisations, which will be responding to the recent Department for Education consultation paper where Ministers are exploring how they might support the start-up of such a member-led body while ensuring its independence from them.
The next steps are a number of public meetings in January followed by a public response to the consultation. This would be followed by an open appointment of practising teaching professionals to a project board (and eventually trusteeship) to oversee the transfer of a Royal Charter to the new body.
Nothing is set in stone and the idea simply cannot take flight without the support of thousands of teachers across the country. Find out more about the history and future plans for a new College of Teaching at ClaimYourCollege.org or #claimyourcollege hashtag on Twitter and have your say on what it should do and look like.
David Weston @informed_edu is a former teacher and the Chief Executive of the Teacher Development Trust, the national charity for effective professional development in schools and colleges. Find out more about the Trust’s work at TDTrust.org