New professional body on the agenda


The GTC was never very popular with the teaching profession. Having failed to gain the confidence of its key stakeholders, it was abolished.

From 1 April 2012, the Teaching Agency , a new executive agency of the Department for Education (DfE),  is the body responsible for the following activities in England: the award of Qualified Teacher Status (QTS); the issue of induction certificates; hearing induction appeals; the regulation of the teaching profession.

There have been long-standing concerns that the profession is represented by a number of different unions, which have failed to raise the status of the profession. (the independent sector suffers  from the same affliction). The Times reported  a couple of  weeks ago  that leading head teachers are planning to set up a college of teaching to improve the reputation of the profession and rescue it from “fads and fetishes”.  The Head teachers want the college of teaching to speak for profession and raise standards. The moves are being backed by the Princes Institute of Teaching. The college would be independent from government and provide an alternative voice to the teaching unions, who normally speak on teachers’ behalf. It would be similar to the Royal College of Surgeons, from which advice for the new venture has been sought. Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has criticised the unions for their fixation with “pay, pensions and members’ ideological crusades [rather than] the curriculum, standards and support for children”. Unions compete with each other for members and rarely speak with one coherent voice.  Headteachers and academics attended a recent workshop in London, chaired by Sir Richard Lambert, the chancellor of the University of Warwick, to take the plans forward.

A report of the meeting said that it was agreed that the lack of a strong voice for professional standards in teaching “had led to a vacuum, and that as a result, Government policy had strayed incrementally into areas that should be determined by teachers.”  The calls were backed at a recent Teacher Development Trust event  by Charlotte Leslie, Tory MP for Bristol North, and member of the Education Select Committee, (and former aide to David Willetts). She contrasted the way politicians devolve decisions about medical best practice to the Royal Colleges, while education has no similar body, encouraging political meddling. (not wrong on that count) She proposed a new Royal College of Teaching to collect, research and disseminate effective classroom practice, and to encourage, recognise and accredit the regular and on-going professional development that teachers need to undertake. A Royal College could create a teacher status equivalent to a Consultant Surgeon, with similar public recognition and esteem. Leslie felt that this body would have to be set up by teachers themselves, and not imposed from the government.

Sounds good .  But Unions might see this as a threat, which it probably is ,to their influence.  Although they are keen to raise the status of the profession, unions are not  necessarily  so   keen to do what is needed to achieve this, particularly if it might  threaten  their influence and  leverage.


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